"a criminal justice system that disproportionately criminalizes people of color "

Call me crazy but that may have something to do with the disproportionality of criminal behavior.
Nothing like villainizing an institution and occupation to attract the best people. Yay for social justice.
"people of color" criminalize themselves by committing serious violent crimes at rates that far exceed their population percentage.
Is "social justice" anything like "equal justice under the law"?
Hey Anusel, answer this easy question: Over 50 percent of all annual killings in Seattle are committed by members of which ethnic group that makes up, in total, less than seven percent of Seattle?
A) Kellye Testy is a great administrator. B) training prosecutors is not tantamount to opposing social justice.
I wonder how feverishly the Racist Troll watches Slog each day for his moment to strike.
Answer the question at #5 or shut the fuck up, Joe.
@6 Prosecutors prosecute different things but if your job is to be a key implementer of the drug war then you are most certainly an enemy of social justice (all justice for that matter).
Whites in Seattle need to step up and pick up the slack and commit more drive-by shootings and mob-attacks and quit forcing the African-Americans there to do them all!
The schools was going to pay a King County Prosecutor $12k per month to run the clinic, which is more than many professors make.

There are tons of options for people who wish to become prosecutors. The biggest advocates for the prosecution clinic were people who were already working in prosecutors offices, as there are externship and job opportunities for law students at both King County and Pierce County prosecuting offices.

The clinics that are at the school tend to serve unmet needs. Many of us believe that the core purpose of clinics is to provide practical experience to law students while simultaneously serving the community. The prosecution clinic would be completely different, in that there is no unmet need and it does not serve the community.

Do people not realize that plenty of Rule 9 interns (law students) already work as prosecutors AND get law school credit for it?
It is remarkable how many "social worky" prosecutors think they are doing people a favor by giving them a drug felony conviction, because it moves them up the line waiting for a treatment bed when they get out of prison.
Anonymous comment #11 is worth reading. The others not so much, unless you enjoy trollery.
The only Pulitzer the Stranger has ever won was an article about a horrendous rape and murder focusing on the surviving victim of the crime. If I remember right, she was called the bravest woman in Seattle, which is probably underselling her level of courage, considering her wife was raped and murdered in front of her eyes.

You know who helped her achieve some small measure of justice? The King County Prosecutor's Office. The fact that people in this thread, and at UW law school, think that the prosecutors that help her don't serve the public, and what they do isn't justice, shows just how out of touch some people are.
@5 Is the answer the police Did I get it right?
"prosecution clinic would be completely different, in that there is no unmet need and it does not serve the community."

Tell that to victims of crimes asshole.
"The only Pulitzer the Stranger has ever won was an article about a horrendous rape and murder focusing on the surviving victim of the crime. If I remember right, she was called the bravest woman in Seattle, which is probably underselling her level of courage, considering her wife was raped and murdered in front of her eyes. "

Well that's only because the victims were ideal Stranger demographics. If he'd raped and butchered a couple of middle aged republicans in Bellevue do you think the Stranger would give a sh*t?
@16's right.

Most beginning lawyers (unless they get hired as 80+-hour/week drones by a commercial firm) work as assistant prosecutors. It's probably good that they learn how to do it correctly first.
I quit being a lawyer after I applied for a job with KC Prosecutor's office a couple years back. The position was guaranteed to end on New Years, under minimum wage, no benefits. They got so many applications that they stopped reviewing the ones received after day 1. That should give you an idea of how f-ed up the law world is. So the idea of having unpaid students doing the shitty work that even graduated and accredited law grads were fighting and clawing over is reprehensible. Yes, a lot of law grads get jobs as deputy assistant prosecutors. Yes they prosecute the lowest and paltriest of crimes. But when there are lawyers who need the work, WTF are you doing UW Law? Sweet, Merciful Science I'm glad I don't do this anymore.
@21, how long were you a practicing lawyer before you applied for a minimum-wage, no-benefit job at the Prosecutor's? Depending on the answer to that, maybe your view of the law world isn't that accurate.
The criminal justice system disproportionately prosecutes men. Men who commit crimes.
You realize that "people of color" are also disproportionately the victims of crime, especially violent ones? And that part of their inability to emerge from poverty may be because they are relentlessly preyed upon by criminals?

@24 you should know by now that guilty white Seattle "progressives" hate being confused by such facts.
African Americans constitute less than 7 percent of Seattle's population. Every year more than fifty percent of all murders in Seattle are committed by African Americans. It's in the P-I!
@11 Forgive me, but you are mistaken on a couple of points. The draft memorandum of understanding between KCPAO and UW said the school would reimburse the PAO for the prosecutor's salary, up to $12,000 a month. I don't know why that figure was chosen or who chose it, but the vast majority of prosecutors don't make anything remotely close to that. Moreover, there are plenty of UW professors whose salaries dwarf that of even the highest paid prosecutors (and several, if not many, of those only work full-time 9 months a year). Don't take my word for it, a simple google search will give you the exact figures for yourself. In addition, this idea of "unmet need" is quickly disputed by a short visit to the courthouse. Both prosecutors and their public defender counterparts carry huge caseloads that vastly exceed what one could reasonably expect them to handle and still do the exceptional job of advocacy as the system intended when designed. I grant you that a prosecutor concerned more with winning than justice can do great harm to the community and the idea of justice - just as a lazy or uncommitted public defender can, or a judge that puts their own ego above simple fairness. The problems facing our criminal justice system are real and palpable, but no one group is responsible. Prosecutors don't create the laws they are responsible for enforcing, legislatures do, with the approval of the people who elect them. Many prosecutors, partnering with their colleagues on other side, work towards improvements in the system that can benefit all of us - things like treatment courts (King Co. has drug court, mental health court, and is working on a Veteran's court) which are designed to get people out of the system, and projects like LEAD which is designed to keep people out of the system in the first place. Villifying prosecutors as the responsible party for this country's social and racial injustices is shortsighted and likely to draw attention away from the real solutions to these problems.
@16, yes, violent crime should be prosecuted but the misdemeanor system the students would work in is a travesty. I am a criminal defense attorney. It is a massive oppression machine that create unthinking prosecutorial automatons enforcing strict guidelines set by their superiors. They have no regard for the special circumstances of any individual and view everyone in their court as nameless defendants who deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law per their guidelines.

For example, let's say a defendant will lose his livelihood and ability to support his family if the prosecutor doesn't take this into account in plea-bargaining for a DUI charge because he drives a commercial motor vehicle for work. The prosecutor will say "that's too bad. My negotiating table doesn't allow me to take that into account." This leads to an unemployed person, greater poverty, and affects not only the defendant but all his family. Another example would be a non-US citizen. Let's say it would help if the prosecutor crafted a plea bargain that would avoid deportation. Again, they will likely not take this into account and lack creativity in applying their guidelines set forth by their superiors. Or what about the poverty crime of driving while suspended for not paying traffic tickets. This charge usually leads to a snowball effect where a person has to drive to work to support his family and accumulates thousands of dollars in fines and ongoing criminal prosecution for being poor.

Our misdemeanor system is all about punishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with social justice. The good results we are able to get our clients usually come from litigation tactics against intern prosecutors. It has nothing to do with prosecutors voluntarily doing the right thing.

What we need is restorative justice where victims are made whole and people get treatment but defendants are not made outcasts. If they have a clinic that can promote that system from within, then it would make sense for the school to be involved.
"doesn't take this into account in plea-bargaining for a DUI charge because he drives a commercial motor vehicle for work."

So only rich people should be prosecuted for DUI?

Wow, equal justice!

" It has absolutely nothing to do with social justice."

Our constitution is based on equal justice, not some vague political belief system called 'social justice' pushed by the left wing.
In response to this article, my friend at the local Prosecutor's office posted this today on facebook:

"On Friday night, I spent two hours in a defense interview with a domestic violence victim who had been beaten for over a year by her drunk boyfriend and strangled multiple times to the point she thought she was going to die, all while her 3-year old son looked on, covering his ears and crying. This victim was grilled by the defense attorney about her mental health history, her sexual history, and asked what she thought about the fact that she was sending "the love of her life" away to prison. The victim was sobbing by the end. Afterward I answered her questions, reassured her that none of this was her fault, and I talked to her about constructive resolutions to the case. Then I came home to find out that what I do is "antithetical to the public interest."

This charismatic, skillful attorney could have made a fortune in the private sector, if not for a real desire to serve the public interest. Perhaps this clinic isn't a good option for the school at this time, but bashing prosecutors does nothing to advance social justice.

@30 Please, wife beaters and rapists are exempt from Slog's 'hug-a-thug' crowd.
@30 it's not your friend individually that's the problem, it's the system. Prosecutor's always pick out the most violent and heinous crimes to justify the whole system. Why didn't your friend point out the 100th person he prosecuted for petty theft or driving suspended or malicious mischief domestic violence for breaking a plate?
@30 did your friend mention that the King County prosecutors plea-bargaining policies have overloaded the court to the point that some cases take up to two years to get a trial? Or that in Washington the defendant has to show up to every pretrial hearing which can mean many many days away from work and family when a lawyer could easily appear on his behalf?
Hey, troll, you're leaving out a LOT of criminal behavior. The stuff like securities fraud that craters the world economy? That's white folks at work. Of course, they don't get punished.
I'm confused. Do prosecuting attorneys determine the terms of punishment upon those who are successfully prosecuted? Do they establish sentencing guidelines?
Prosecutors sit in a position of power more than defense attorneys. If they really want to change the world of criminal law, they will become prosecutors and use their prosecutorial discretion for justice, as they see it.
@35 - no. The legislature does.

@28 - what you're arguing for is preferential treatment, not justice. The idea that somebody who drives drunk but has a CDL and drives a truck for a living should get a better deal than someone who doesn't is the opposite of justice, not an example of it.
@35 usually, yes. The law typically provides for extreme punishment so if a defendant loses at trial they will suffer greater than if they take the prosecutors plea bargain. Therefore, the prosecutor exercises her discretion to offer a plea bargain that is less than the consequences the defendant would likely suffer if he loses at trial. The prosecutors discretion gives her power to set the terms of most punishment. It is negotiated but there is no doubt that the prosecutor has the power. The defense attorney usually only gains the power position through pretrial litigation and suppressing evidence. The system is designed to coerce defendants into forgoing their right to a jury trial in lieu of the punishment offered by the prosecutor through a plea bargain.

@28 social justice acknowledges that a just system is not one size fits all. In some jurisdictions prosecutors absolutely take into account what we call equitable factors such as unusually disparate impacts, however, in King County this is being taken into account much less frequently. There's no doubt that some people will suffer much greater punishment as a result of their particular circumstances and this absolutely should be taken into account to meet the ends of justice. We need to implement restorative justice that crafts individual solutions to make victims whole, provide for treatment, do justice and make sure we are not creating more problems in our society then we had before people entered the system. The current system is counterproductive. I work in it and see it every day.
Although each defendant does have a right to a jury trial, the US Supreme Court has acknowledged that we have a plea-bargaining system rather than a jury trial system. If the defendant is convicted at trial, then the judge decides that sentence within the guidelines provided by the law. However, the judge will almost always follow a plea bargain.
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.
@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 (…).

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.

"social justice acknowledges that a just system is not one size fits all"

So kind of like Alabama in the 50s.
Mr. Gidge, the prosecutors have been granted substantial power and resources compared to the defendants in their system and the defense bar. Therefore, they have a responsibility to try to improve the system and make it better.

As for my clients, the vast majority of the time I'm able to achieve their goals. However, it is usually not because the parties sit down and discuss what makes sense in a particular case based on the unique circumstances of each case. Instead, it's usually based on leveraging the mistakes and violations of rights by the officer in the case that I use in pretrial litigation and plea-bargaining. It would be nice if the parties could work together to achieve social justice.

Also I believe anonymity is toxic to public discourse. I discloses my name?
"Also I believe anonymity is toxic to public discourse. "

I feel the same way about ambulance chasing personal injury attorneys.

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