Charles Swift

E-mail MeCharles Swift

Seattle, Washington
800-391-7308 (Toll Free)

In 2007, Charles retired from the U.S. Navy, where for the last 13 years he worked in the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG), in addition to his service as a surface warfare officer. While in the JAG Corps, he worked principally in the area of criminal defense, earning a reputation as a premier trial attorney. During his tenure, Charles was involved in litigation in some of the highest profile cases in the U.S. military, from defense of the Navy's use of the Vieques bombing range in Puerto Rico against environmental litigation, to defending senior military officers in complex criminal cases. Most noteworthy is his quest for justice at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluding with the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

Following his military career, Charles was a visiting professor and head of the Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, before leaving to enter private practice in Seattle.

Charles has been a regular contributor on the topics of military law and terrorism for national news programs including MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, NPR, and Fox News. Charles is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, a cum laude graduate of Seattle University School of Law, and holds a Master's Degree with honors in Trial Advocacy from Temple University. He has received numerous awards for his advocacy, including recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus at Seattle University School of Law, ACLU's Roger Baldwin Medal for Distinguished Service, and was runner-up for Lawyer of the Year in 2005 as well as being named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in 2006 by the National Law Journal.

Charles is admitted to practice before the State Bar of Washington, the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, the District Columbia Court of Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Areas of Practice

  • 50% Military Criminal Law
  • 25% National Security Law
  • 10% Licensing, Security Clearance
  • 10% Correction of Military Records
  • 5% Environmental Law

Litigation Percentage

  • 95% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Washington, 2009
  • District of Columbia, 2009
  • North Carolina, 1994
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 2009
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 2011
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2008
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 2011
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2006


  • Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • LL.M. - 2006
    • Honors: Trial Advocacy with Honors
    • Honors: Sole selectee for Adjunct Faculty, 2006-2007
  • Seattle University, School of Law, Seattle, Washington
    • J.D. cum laude - 1994
  • United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
    • B.S. - 1984
    • Major: Engineering
    • Minor: American Military History

Published Works

  • The American Way of Justice, Esquire Magazine, March, 2007
  • Why Now? The Timing of the Guantanamo Trials Is Not an Accident, Slate, February, 15, 2008


  • Visiting Law Professor, School of Law, Emory Law School, Atlanta, GA, 2007 - 2008

Honors and Awards

  • Named, Esquire Magazine as one of the "Best and Brightest", 2004
  • Runner up National Law Journal "Lawyer of the Year", 2005
  • Winner of the American Civil Liberties Union "Roger M Baldwin Medal of Liberty", 2005
  • Named, National Law Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers", 2006
  • Recipient, Distinguished Graduate Award, Seattle University, 2006
  • Co-recipient of the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, 2007
  • Honorary Degree Mount Holyoke University, 2007
  • Honorary JD Georgetown Law, 2007

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
  • Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL)

Past Employment Positions

  • Emory University School Of Law, Atlanta, GA, Visiting Professor, 2007 - 2008
  • Office Of Chief Defense Counsel, Military Commissions, Washington, DC, 2003 - 2007
  • Naval Legal Service, Detachment Mayport, Florida, Officer In Charge, 2000 - 2003
  • Commander, Naval Forces Caribbean & Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, Puerto Rico, Staff Judge Advocate, 1997 - 2000
  • Naval Legal Service Office Northwest, Bremerton, WA, Defense Counsel, 1994 - 1997
  • United States Navy, Judge Advocate General, 1994 - 2007
  • United States Navy, Surface Warfare Officer, 1984 - 1991