SEATTLE — The Seattle lawyer representing a U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians has only appeared in military court a handful of times in a career spanning 40-plus years, but he's no stranger to high-profile clients.
John Henry Browne has tried over 250 criminal cases to verdict, representing clients ranging from serial killer Ted Bundy to Colton Harris-Moore, known as the "Barefoot Bandit."
The 65-year-old said he has only handled three or four military cases. The soldier will also have at least one military lawyer.
Browne has been a prominent figure in Washington state legal circles since the 1970s. Tall and stylish, he's known equally for his zeal in representing his clients and his flair before television cameras.
He has handled some of the most high-profile criminal cases in state. In addition to being a lawyer for Bundy, in 1983 he helped Benjamin Ng avoid the death penalty following his conviction in Washington's worst mass killing, the massacre of 13 people at a Seattle restaurant.
In one of his greatest legal victories, Browne ensured that a man who fled to Brazil after setting a fire that killed four firefighters would not face murder charges upon his return because the extraditing country — Brazil — did not have a felony murder statute equivalent to Washington's.
Browne recently represented Colton Harris-Moore, who gained international attention for stealing airplanes, boats and cars during a two-year run from the law. Browne and his co-counsel, Emma Scanlan, helped Harris-Moore reach state and federal plea deals, then persuaded a state judge to give him the low end of the sentencing range: seven years in prison.
Browne graduated from American University School of Law in 1971 and went on to be a Ford Foundation Fellow at Northwestern University School of Law. He began his legal career as an assistant attorney general in Olympia, Wash., the state capital.