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Russ Brooks, PLF Star Attorney in the Pacific Northwest, Passes Away

An environmental-law expert, Brooks won landmark victories against arbitrary regulations

Bellevue, Washington; February 27, 2007: It is with sorrow that Pacific Legal Foundation reports that Principal Attorney Russell C. Brooks, managing attorney of PLF’s Pacific Northwest Office in Bellevue, Washington, passed away of a sudden heart attack on Sunday, February 25. He was 41.

“PLF has lost a valued friend and a superb attorney, and America has lost one of the leading courtroom defenders of constitutional property rights, limited government, and a balanced approach to environmental protection,” said Rob Rivett, PLF’s president.

Arguably the best-known public-interest lawyer in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Brooks specialized in natural resources law, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), water rights, and property rights. He played a key role in several landmark ESA cases, winning court rulings that struck down illegal ESA listings of Oregon Coast coho salmon, southern Oregon/northern California coast coho salmon, and central valley California steelhead. He defended operation of the Klamath Irrigation Project against various challenges, and won a court ruling invalidating a critical habitat designation for the Western Snowy Plover.

Brooks first won nationwide renown for his 2001 victory in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans, in which he successfully argued that federal officials were illegally undercounting salmon populations in the northwest by excluding hatchery-bred fish from their tabulations. The government’s arbitrary lowballing of the salmon count was harmful to landowners – because the government restricted land use to protect fish that weren’t actually in danger – and injurious to fishermen because it led bureaucrats to mandate unnecessarily low limits on salmon catches. Brooks also argued before the Washington Supreme Court in opposition to the Seattle School District’s policy of using race in assigning students to high schools – a policy that is currently under review by the United States Supreme Court.

“Russ Brooks used his legal skills to help average citizens oppressed by big government,” said PLF’s Rivett. “He fiercely resented arbitrary regulations that cost people jobs and freedoms without accomplishing anything of substance for society or the environment.”

Russ Brooks joined PLF in 1999, after graduating from the University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, where he was awarded the Order of Barristers. He earned his B.A. in Political Science at the University of Texas-Arlington.

Mr. Brooks is survived by his wife, Rhonda; son, Austin, age 5; and daughter, Savannah, age 2. “Our hearts go out to Russ’ family,” said PLF’s Rivett. “They have a father and husband whom they can always be proud of because he was a man of great talent, high principle, and lasting accomplishments for freedom.”

Memorial Service Held at Church On The Ridge
1:00 PM Thursday, February 29th
35131 SE Douglas Street Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(425) 888-7474

For a photo of Russ Brooks please contact Ray Young at (916) 781-0659.

About Pacific Legal Foundation Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the oldest and largest public interest legal organization dedicated to property rights, limited government, and a balanced approach to environmental protection.

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