Leonard W. Schroeter
1924 - 2014
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Leonard W. Schroeter

Constitutional lawyer and civil rights advocate, Leonard W. Schroeter, died on April 28, 2014. Born in 1924 in Chicago, he grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and attended Indiana University. In 1943 he interrupted college to enlist in the U.S. Army. He served in the Allied Area Command in Florence, Italy, and later worked for Stars and Stripes. After the war, he attended the University of Chicago, where he received his master's degree in International Relations. His legal career began following his graduation from Harvard University Law School in 1951, when he joined the legal staff of the NAACP's Legal Defense & Education Fund, then headed by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

At the end of 1952, he moved to Seattle to become Northwest director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. He continued to work tirelessly for civil rights, and served as a board member and as president of ACLU-Washington, and in 1964 became the first national board member from the Pacific Northwest. After serving as deputy prosecuting attorney for King County from 1955 to 1956, he started a trial law practice which became Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender in 1968. He earned a national reputation as a plaintiff's trial lawyer and as an advocate for constitutional rights. He was named Trial Lawyer of the Year (1993) by the Washington State Trial Lawyer's Association, and received many other awards and honors in recognition of his professional achievements. A frequent speaker, he published many articles on constitutional law and access to justice.

In the early 1970s he lived in Jerusalem and served as principal legal assistant to the Attorney General of Israel. One of his assignments was to work on the issue of human rights and the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union. During a visit to the Soviet Union in 1972, he met with underground samizdat writers and human rights activists, and for a decade served as their attorney and representative to publishers in Europe and the U.S. He is the author of The Last Exodus, a study of the Soviet Jewry movement.

Len practiced law in Seattle until his retirement in 1989, and was of counsel to Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender. In 1997 he joined the law firm of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Withey Coluccio as of counsel. He continued to be active in a variety of constitutional, civil rights, and human rights causes. He was a leader in the access to justice movement in Washington, and instrumental in the formation of Washington state's Alliance for Equal Justice. He loved their motto, "it's not justice if it's not equal."

He is survived by his wife, Alice, his sons David Michael (Dari Lewis), Pt. Townsend; Daniel Schroeter (Jessica), Minneapolis, MN; Benjamin Schroeter, Seattle; and Joshua Schroeter (Lisa Kartiganer), Seattle; and his stepdaughters Caitlin Davis Carlson and Sara McPhee (Sean), both of Seattle. And his grandchildren, who brought him great joy: Myriam Schroeter, New York City; Naomi Schroeter, Minneapolis, MN; Sophia Berman, Chicago, IL; Ani Schroeter, Jeremy Schroeter, Sam Schroeter, Lucy Carlson, and Sophia McPhee, all of Seattle. He was preceded in death by his former wife, Dorothy Schroeter.

His family is grateful for the devoted and compassionate care he received at Evergreen Adult Family Home where he lived for the last three years.

A memorial gathering will be held in June, date and place to be announced.

Donations may be made in his memory to Legal Aid to Washington Fund (LAW Fund) or Public Justice Foundation. Please sign Len's online Guestbook at www.Legacy.com.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on May 4, 2014.
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9 entries
June 21, 2014
I worked at SGB for 6 months, July 1979-Februray 1980, as a medical legal consultant. Leonard was most gracious and he influenced the rest of my life in so many ways. I spoke to him a few years ago. He was a great man and a fine lawyer. May God bless him. Elliott Oppenheim, MD,JD,LLM Health Law
Elliott Oppenheim, MD,JD,LLM Health Law
June 4, 2014
Len was an exceptional trial lawyer and advocate for civil liberties. I knew him and his family, especially his son David, as a teenager in the 1960's. Len was a pleasure to talk to, always full of ideas and interested in everything. Years later, when I decided to become a lawyer, Len was one of the "role models" I had in mind. He will be dearly missed. -- David Utevsky
May 21, 2014
Len was an inspiration to me in the law that has never faded. Sal Liccardo
Sal Liccardo
May 19, 2014
I worked at SGB for many years and so admired, respected and loved Leonard. His smile could light up a room! He was so very passionate about justice. For all. What an incredible man!!
I'm so very sorry for your loss.
Sue Miller
May 11, 2014
When I was a young UW student, I purchased books from a Swiss bookseller. The books were impounded by the U.S. Post Office as "obscene" and I was threatened with a 30-year prison sentence. I contacted the ACLU and Len Schroeter to the case. He was delighted with a chance to challenge to right of the Post Office to ban books. I'll never forget the blistering brief he submitted, which ended with the statement: "There are far better judges of literary merit than bureaucrats in the postal service." Since all the books were already in libraries across the country, the government folded and released the books to me. Len was great fun, innovative, and a consummate defender of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. I hope that his example has created a legacy for others to follow. Condolences to Alice and the family.
Tamara A. Turner, Seattle
May 8, 2014
Leonard gave me a summer intern job when I was in law school and was forever after a mentor and friend. What I noted from the beginning was how passionate he was about everything he did from the law to his garden. He was always a champion for equal justice, civil liberties, and the constitution. He was a brilliant mind and great trial lawyer. The best decision he ever made was his wife Alice.
May 4, 2014
Len and I go back to Harvard Law. We were neighbors and friends. I never met any one more dedicated to justice for all than Len.
I was in Israel with some refusniks who said no one did any thing for them. When I mentioned Len, their demeanor changed and they said HE did plenty.
He was quite a guy and I was lucky to have known him and count him as one of my friends friends.
Phil Shiekman
May 4, 2014
I am so grateful to have met and been counseled by Leonard. His tireless and groundbreaking work for equality and justice helped to lay the very foundation of our civil rights today.He was a true mensch!
CarolAnn Barrows
May 4, 2014
What a great guy. We will miss him.

Grove Anschell
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