History of the Center for Justice

Jim Sheehan spent more than 20 years working as a public defender. And then he unexpectedly came into some money.

Rather than taking life easy, Jim decided to put his inheritance to work for the greater good. He created the Community Building and, in 1999, founded the Center for Justice.CFJ founder Jim Sheehan To read an interview with Jim reflecting on the Center’s first decade, go here.

From our start until 2004, we concentrated on poverty law, especially representing parents in dependency proceedings, indigent mothers, parents with mental disabilities, and many other under-served groups.

In 2005, we began focusing our litigation resources on three growing initiatives: regional ecosystem health, human and civil rights, and government accountability. And we continue to address poverty law through our Community Advocacy Program.

From its inception, the Center has also worked to improve the region’s environment and to protect public health from environmental contamination. We’ve put a special emphasis on the Spokane River and our Spokane Riverkeeper program is the centerpiece of this vigorous effort to protect our community’s river and aquifer and preserve citizens’ quality of life.

Here goes a neighborhood: The refurbished Saranac Building was hailed as the state’s “greenest” building when it opened its doors in the fall of 2007. Another Jim Sheehan inspiration, the Saranac hosts more than twenty non-profit organizations and other businesses. The Saranac is just east of the Community Building in downtown Spokane. Photo courtesy of Bob Zeller.

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