Derek brings more than 20 years of criminal law experience to the Tacoma attorney team of Smith and White. His work as a prosecutor, judge, and defense attorney provide him valuable insight into Washington criminal defense law.
He graduated with honors from Seattle University School of Law in 1996. Before that he attended the University of California, Davis and received a B.A. in International Relations.
Derek handled thousands of criminal cases, first as a prosecutor with the City of Kent in 1995, and then moving to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office in 2002. He has worked on or negotiated more than 15,000 criminal matters. As a prosecutor, Derek has taken more than 150 cases to jury trial. As a defense attorney, Derek has taken more than 30 jury trials to a verdict. He has handled and won cases as serious as Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, and Robbery in the First Degree, but also handled cases all the way to Assault 4 Domestic Violence.
Derek also practices in Federal District Court defending clients in the Tacoma Branch of the Western District of Washington Federal Courts. He handled cases in the Washington State Appellate system including in the state Court of Appeals and Washington State Supreme Court.
Derek served as the head of the domestic violence unit for the City of Kent and supervised the misdemeanor unit before he left to go to Seattle. In Seattle he served in the DUI and misdemeanor trial unit. There he prosecuted notorious strip club owner and alleged mob boss Frank Colacurciofor sexual assault on a waitress in his strip club and twice convicted him. After serving in the trial unit, Derek became the vice and narcotics liaison for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and received the Seattle Police Department Chief’s Award for his role in Operation Sobering Thought. Derek handled the asset forfeiture division of the Seattle City Attorney’s office for two years as well.
Since coming to private practice, Derek has handled high profile murder cases, serious financial crimes, vehicular homicide cases, assault in the first degree and three strikes cases. He also assists in lower profile cases as well seeking resolutions for his clients that are quiet and out of the public eye. His philosophy about handling cases and clients is to try and listen to the wishes of the client and then guide the client through the process, always honoring those wishes. Derek has exceptional reviews on Avvo.com and Google and Yelp for just this reason.
Derek has also presided over thousands of cases as a judge pro tem in the municipal courts in the cities of Federal Way, Kent, Issaquah, Pacific and Des Moines.
Derek volunteers his time to local nonprofits including serving as president of the Tacoma Art Museum Activities Council in 2010 for the Tacoma Art Museum’s 75th Anniversary Gala. He served as the president of St. Mark’s Lutheran by the Narrows church council from 2013-2015, and as vice-president for two years before that. He is an active member in the Sherman Elementary School PTA.
Derek also volunteered for the Washington State Bar Rules Committee for 2010-12 and then served on the Washington State Bar Associations Character and Fitness Board from 2012-2015. Derek is a member of the Robert J. Bryan Ch. XXV American Inn of Court and has been since 2014. Derek is also a member of the Washington Defenders Association.
Derek is a life member of the NRA and a life member of the Washington State Arms Collectors. Derek has competed in International Defensive Pistol Association events and is currently a member of the 2nd Amendment Foundation. He has received extensive training in firearms defensive tactics from a renowned instructor in this area.
A former PADI scuba instructor, in fact he met his wife that way, and an avid reader, Derek does not get to spend as much time on either these days.
He publishes a very tongue in cheek blog about the law here. He has lived in Tacoma since 1993 and, due to the fact that he was moved around a lot as a child and plans to never let that happen again, has petitioned to be considered a native Washingtonian born out of state.
Honors and Awards
Seattle Police Department Chief’s Award
Pro Bono Activities
- President, Tacoma Art Museum Activities Council, 2010
- Vice President, St. Mark’s Lutheran by the Narrows Church Council
- Member, NRA