‘Lots of Very Good Lawyers|Are Named Gallagher’

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — “Are you sure you have the right Gallagher?” Montana attorney Tony Gallagher asked when he heard the Ninth Circuit named him this year’s outstanding lawyer in the Western United States. “Because there are a lot of very good lawyers that are named Gallagher.”
     The Ninth Circuit will present Gallagher with this year’s John Frank Award for outstanding attorneys practicing in federal courts in the Western United States during the July 11-14 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Big Sky, Mont.
     The award is named for the late John Frank, a Phoenix attorney who argued more than 500 appeals before the Arizona Court of Appeals, the Arizona Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit, other federal circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 62-year career.
     Gallagher told Courthouse News on Tuesday that he was “humbled and was very shocked when I was called. I even asked, ‘Are you sure you have the right Gallagher?’ because there are a lot of very good lawyers that are named Gallagher.”
     Gallagher, a native of Pennsylvania, has been executive director of Federal Defenders of Montana, a community defender organization, since it was founded in 1992. Based in Great Falls, with offices in Billings, Helena and Missoula, Federal Defenders opened 828 new cases in 2015.
     Gallagher’s 39-year legal career has included more than 400 trials, including arguments before state and federal appellate courts. Among his clients were Leroy Schweitzer and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, during the early stages of that case.
     Schweitzer was leader of the Montana Freemen, a Christian militia that rejected the authority of the federal government and refused to be evicted from a farm in Jordan, Mont., until eight surrendered after an 81-day standoff with the FBI in 1996.
     Gallagher earned his B.A. from Duquesne University in 1971. He studied psychology at the University of Northern Colorado in 1973 and received his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1977. He became an assistant state attorney for Baltimore County in Maryland in 1977, then chief of the office’s Investigations Division before moving to the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland from 1983 to 1992.
     Aside from a brief stint in private practice in the late 1980s, Gallagher has spent his career in government service.
     In 2005, he was named Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year by the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
     At the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference this weekend, 600 judges, attorneys and court staff will converge “for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice.”
     Gallagher said that any success he has experienced in his long career is due in large part to the people he works with on a daily basis.
     “There are a lot of cases where people were charged improperly or incorrectly, or were innocent, and I was just ecstatic when they were found not guilty,” he said.
     “Every client you represent, you want to give them everything you can, and I have been fortunate to have a good staff and a supportive board of directors in my effort to get the best result for our clients.”
     Gallagher says he’s not sure he measures up to previous recipients of the award.
     “I’ve represented a lot of poor people,” he said. “I represented Mr. Kaczynski and Leroy Schweitzer, but most of my clients … people never heard of them.
     “I don’t put myself anywhere close to the Judy Clarks of the world. She is such a wonderful lawyer.”
     Judy Clark, last year’s John Frank award winner, has represented several high-profile defendants, negotiating plea agreements that spared her clients the death penalty. Her clients include Kaczynski, Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph and Jared Lee Loughner, who pleaded guilty to 19 charges of murder and attempted murder for the 2011 Tucson shootings that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed U.S. District Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded a dozen other people.
     “Any success I’ve had in my career is because of the people I work with,” Gallagher said. “I know it’s an old saw, but the reason I won this award is because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.”

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