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Practice Areas:


  • J.D., University of Iowa, 1977, Order of the Coif, magna cum laude
  • B.A., University of Iowa, 1971, Phi Beta Kappa

Boards & Memberships:

  • Washington Coalition for Open Government, Legal Committee Chair
  • Spokane County Bench-Bar-Press Committee
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington
  • Washington State Centennial Committee for Spokane County, former Chair
  • Washington State Bar Editorial Advisory Board, former Chair
  • Spokane Area Economic Development Council, former general counsel and board member, 1995-2007

Duane M. Swinton, Principal


P: 509.624.5265

F: 509.458.2728


Legal Assistant: Terry Erickson

Duane Swinton has a varied media law, employment law, banking and real estate practice. He has represented the media, both broadcast and print, in numerous defamation cases in Washington and Idaho state courts and handles cases involving access to public records and courtroom proceedings in state and federal courts.  He regularly advises media clients concerning pre-publication review of news stories and access issues, bringing to the table practical experience as a former newspaper reporter. He has participated in acquisitions of both print and broadcast companies. He has also represented various financial institutions concerning loan documentation, loan workouts, and bankruptcy proceedings and handles retail and commercial leasing matters for a variety of clients, including retail shopping centers.

Duane has argued numerous cases before the Washington State Supreme Court and the Idaho Supreme Court involving such issues as prior restraint, defamation, access to court, police and school records, and access to court proceedings. He has handled precedent-setting cases at the appellate level on access to preliminary hearings, access to juvenile proceedings, the opinion defense in defamation cases, and prior restraint. Duane regularly advises businesses concerning employment issues and has handled employment discrimination claims before the State Human Rights Commissions and in court and arbitration proceedings

Duane has been recognized as one of the country’s Best Lawyers in First Amendment law.  Best Lawyers, which is now partnered with U.S. News & World Report, is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. 

  • Licensed to practice in Washington and Iowa (inactive).
  • Joined Witherspoon Kelley in 1978.
  • AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America, listed under First Amendment Law, 1994 to present
  • Gonzaga University School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Media Law
  • Guest lecturer on media issues at area colleges and continuing legal education and media conferences

Works Authored:

  • Washington State Bar Association Public Records Deskbook, authored chapter on Investigative Records, 2006.

Representative Cases:

  • Soter v. Cowles Publishing Co., 162 Wn.2d 716, 174 P. 3d 60 (2007) (Access to school accident records).
  • Steele v. Spokesman Review, 138 Idaho 249, 251, 61 P.3d 606, 608 (2002) (Defamation – public figure).
  • Cowles v. Spokane Police Department, 139 Wn.2d 472, 478, 987 P.2d 620 (1999) (Access to police investigative records).
  • C.L.E.A.N. v City of Spokane, et al., 133 Wn.2d 455 (1997) (Spokane downtown redevelopment issues).
  • State v. Loukaitis, 918 P.2d 535, 82 Wash. App. 460 (1996) (Access to juvenile declination proceedings).
  • Brouillet v. Cowles Publishing Co., 114 Wn.2d 788, 796, 791 P.2d 526 (1990) (Access to teacher records).
  • Cowles Publishing Co. v. Magistrate Court, 118 Idaho 753, 800 P.2d 640 (1990) (Access to preliminary hearings).
  • Margoles v. Hubbart, 111 Wn.2d 195, 760 P.2d 324 (1988) (Defamation – actual malice).
  • State v. Coe, 101 Wn.2d 364, 679 P.2d 353 (1984) (Prior restraint).


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