Feb 8, 2014 Gidge commented on UW School of Law Drops Plan For Controversial Prosecution Clinic, For Now.
@35: Here's my attempt at a less-jaded answer. For each crime, the legislature sets the maximum sentence, and for felonies, it also sets the standard range for each crime, depending on your criminal history. For gross misdemeanors, like DUI or theft under $750 or simple assault, the statutory maximum is 364 days in jail (it used to be 365, but because the 1 year mark may trigger immigration consequences, that was changed a few years ago). A judge can impose anything under that max, unless it's a DUI, where there are some mandatory minimums (http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/conten…).

For felonies, it's a little more complicated, because the sentencing framework set up by the legislature depends on both your crime and your criminal history. For example, for Assault 2 (i.e. breaking someone's bone, or assaulting them with a knife/gun), the max is 10 years. With no history, the standard range is 3-9 months; with at least 9 prior convictions, the standard range is 63-84 months (and there are 8 steps in between). A judge can rarely go above or below that standard range.

What Jason Lantz is talking about is that although the legislature sets the sentencing range, the prosecutor can influence what standard range a defendant faces by choosing what to charge or what to offer.

Part of the reason for the emphasis on plea bargaining is just the volume of cases going through the system. I don't know the exact numbers, but a SMALL percentage of defendants take their cases to trial (it's less than 10%). Despite that small number, the trial courts are busy all of the time. Without a high percentage of pleas, things would grind to a halt.

Feb 8, 2014 Gidge commented on UW School of Law Drops Plan For Controversial Prosecution Clinic, For Now.
Jason Lantz, I don't disagree with some of your points. Our system is not perfect, and we have to keep thinking about the hard questions. We would be well-served by incorporating more treatment options and restorative justice into the system. There are crimes--particularly driving with a suspended license--which only perpetuate systemic problems. But those issues can't be "solved" in any prosecutor's office. A prosecutor's office can come up with diversion programs, loosen their standards, and take advantage of other alternative programs (like drug court, relicensing, etc.), but there are significant limits. The legislature needs to take action. The solution certainly isn't to just stop prosecuting everyone who shoplifts or commits a vehicle prowl ("petty" crimes, to use your words). That's not practical, and it has real-world implications.

Likewise, you'll be hard pressed to get public support for lightening up on DUIs much more than already happens. There are options--albeit not perfect--for first-time offenders, and people feel strongly about holding repeat offenders accountable. As a practical matter, I'd be surprised if there weren't other reasons (other than heartless prosecutors) why your CDL clients aren't getting their DUIs reduced to Reckless or Negligent Driving.

Having looked at your bio, I see that you work primarily in misdemeanor courts. Restorative justice has its place, but it's incredibly resource intensive, and it does not serve one of the purposes of the criminal-justice system: keeping the community safe. There are violent people for whom treatment and intervention has failed. I'm not saying that we ever throw people away, but when you're looking at people who have committed multiple violent offenses, sometimes it is necessary to take them out of the community for a period. Again--not saying that we give up on restorative justice, but don't sell some Pollyanna vision of a future where we have no prosecutors or defense attorneys.
Jul 22, 2013 Gidge commented on We Did Not Endorse Ed Murray.
Murray also says he's the only elected democrat running for mayor. which is misleading.
Jul 19, 2013 Gidge commented on Bruce Harrell Understands the Challenge of Affording His $1.4 Million Home.
Also, do youth really care about affordable housing?
Jul 12, 2013 Gidge commented on Is West Seattle More Touble Than It's Worth?.
Are they connected with these folks? http://www.gettingitright4ws.org/
May 1, 2013 Gidge commented on Police Throwing Flash Bangs into Crowd "Like Beads at Mardi Gras" at 5th & Olive.
Brendan might be a *touch* biased on this.
Mar 4, 2013 Gidge commented on What City Council Candidate Sam Bellomio Says "You Need to Do".
Ask Mr. Bellomio how many of his small claims suits have been thrown out.
Feb 20, 2013 Gidge commented on Guess Who Just Called the City Council "Terrorists"?.
Again, if this were unique testimony from him, it might be meaningful, given the topic. But when you consider that he calls elected officials terrorists and criminals at almost every meeting--even at the most innocuous meetings--it's a little different.
Feb 18, 2013 Gidge commented on Rumors That Alison Holcomb May Run for City Council.
She should run against Dreyfuss/Conlin!
Feb 18, 2013 Gidge commented on Sam Bellomio Did Not Like What I Wrote About Him.
You're in good company, Dom. He and his friend question the intelligence of every local elected official at nearly ever public meeting. They routinely question elected officials' mental fitness, demand psychological evaluations, and accuse them of being part of notorious crime families. Occasionally they have some good points (yes, it would be nice if the city council had a town hall), but those points are usually wrapped up in their nasty, rambling attacks.