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AG-elect Ferguson names Noah Guzzo Purcell as new state solicitor general

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Jan. 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
January 9, 2013 1:35 pm

Attorney General-elect Bob Ferguson has picked Seattle lawyer Noah Guzzo Purcell to serve as his new solicitor general after he takes office next week. Purcell, a Seattle native, replaces Maureen Hart, who is retiring. The move is one of the few announced by Ferguson, a Democrat, as he prepares to take the place of two-term Republican Rob McKenna on Jan. 16.

Purcell is a Harvard trained lawyer from Seattle who once clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and who has provided pro bono legal help to patients in the Plan B contraceptives case – Stormans v. Selecky, according to the AG’s announcement. The Stormans case pits an Olympia pharmacy owner and his religious objections to use of the “morning after” pills against the state Department of Health rules that require pharmacies to stock medications in demand, and the case is an appeal in the federal courts.

Ferguson previously announced his longtime chief of staff from the King County Council, Mamie Marcuss, is taking over that same role at the AG’s Office, and he is retaining McKenna’s chief deputy, Brian Moran, to oversee all legal operations in the agency.

Today’s announcement is here:

Jan. 9, 2013
AG-Elect Ferguson names new Solicitor General
SEATTLE — Attorney General-Elect Bob Ferguson today announced the selection of Seattle attorney Noah Guzzo Purcell as the new Solicitor General for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office (AGO), replacing retiring Solicitor General Maureen Hart.
 
“Washington has one of the most highly respected appellate practices in the nation,” said Ferguson. “As a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk and an outstanding attorney, Noah is among the best and brightest lawyers in our state. He will be a tremendous leader to this outstanding legal team.”
 
The Solicitor General’s Office guides the AGO’s work in appellate cases, provides legal advice on issues of statewide significance, and coordinates the office’s involvement in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, such as the recent challenge to the state’s Top-Two Primary and a case challenging the state’s law requiring the release of signatures on a referendum to overturn the state’s civil union law.
 
The Office also coordinates the AGO’s involvement in “friend of the court” briefs, prepares Attorney General Opinions, handles initiative and referendum issues, and serves as counsel to the Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor, and Administrative Office of the Courts.
 
An attorney in Perkins Coie’s Litigation and Appellate practices, Purcell’s diverse litigation experience includes constitutional issues, antitrust claims, environmental law, preemption, campaign finance, and administrative law. He has worked on voting rights cases throughout the country and is currently representing patients seeking access to medications in Stormans, Inc., et al vs. Selecky, et al.
 
This case, currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, involves a challenge to Washington State’s Board of Pharmacy rules requiring pharmacies to guarantee timely access to medication, including emergency contraception. Purcell has provided pro bono representation to patients who would be harmed if the rules are struck down.
 
Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Purcell served in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of General Counsel from 2009-2010, advising on security and immigration issues and working extensively on the federal government’s challenge to Arizona’s immigration law. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Purcell worked as a law clerk to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel of the D.C. Circuit.
 
“Noah was a terrific law clerk, and he’ll be a terrific Solicitor General,” said former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former New Hampshire Attorney General David Souter.
 
A native of Seattle, Purcell attended Franklin High School, where he was introduced to the law by renowned teacher and mock trial coach Rick Nagel. At Franklin, Purcell also met his wife, Jasmin Weaver. Together they attended the University of Washington, where they both received Mary Gates Leadership Awards for their work founding and running Affordable Tuition Now!, a student advocacy group dedicated to keeping tuition at UW and other state universities affordable. The couple lives in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle with their brand-new son, Desmond, who was born in May.
 
Hart is retiring in January after serving eight years as Solicitor General under Attorney General Rob McKenna. Hart joined the Attorney General’s Office in 1978, and has served as chief counsel to the State Auditor and Office of Financial Management. She also served as chief of two AGO divisions and as the Solicitor General in 1997.
 
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Ferguson is expected to announce other staff changes in the next few days. Details on his transition committee are here.

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