Friday, May 25, 2007

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng Dead at 68

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng died last night after suffering a heart attack. He was attending a Nordic Heritage Museum event at the University of Washington and was rushed to Harborview Medical Center.

It's not surprising that he was at a community event -- especially at the University of Washington -- because he often was, and he loved this university. His final hour was at the county hospital just up the hill from the county courthouse where he served for decades.

Norm Maleng, a Republican, was elected King County Prosecutor in 1978 and re-elected seven times, often by a landslide. (He received 97% of the vote in the last election!) He was unsuccessful in his bids for state-wide office, losing runs for governor and for attorney general.

Maleng was widely respected -- by Democrats and Republicans, by prosecutors and defense attorneys -- for his integrity and compassion.

Last fall the ABA Criminal Justice Section honored Maleng:

During the Disaster Preparedness Conference in New Orleans, the Minister of Justice Award was presented to Norman Maleng, King County prosecuting attorney, Seattle, Washington. Maleng served as King County prosecutor since 1978. In that capacity he has embodied the principles enunciated in the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, Prosecution Function, particularly: “The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.” His impact on the justice system has been statewide and beyond with involvement in victims’ rights, laws involving the civil commitment of sex offenders, and a Juvenile Justice Act that provides an improved framework to intervene in the life of a troubled youth.

Criminal Justice, Winter 2007, at 61. Maleng served at the chair of the Criminal Justice Section in 2003-2004.

His ties to the University of Washington School of Law were long and tight. He served at editor-in-chief of the Washington Law Review as a student, and volunteered in many capacities as an alumnus. The UW law school's Alumni Association honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 and the Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Alumni Public Service Award in 2004. At the time of his death he was president of the Washington Law School Foundation and co-chair of the law school's capital campaign.

Both local dailies have long obituaries:

* Longtime prosecutor Norm Maleng dies, Seattle Times, May 25, 2007.
* Norm Maleng Dead at 68, Seattle P-I, May 25, 2007.

See also this profile excerpted from Washington Law and Politics and Dan Satterberg, Dedicated Prosecutor Keeps Swinging Away, Bar Bull., June 2005.

Update: See May 26 post.

1 comment:

Mary Whisner said...

Several days ago, I got a message asking me to moderate a comment posted to this message. The anonymous writer challenged me by saying "I am certain the moderator will never let this post reach the public eye... and thus becomes complicit in the treachery Maleng and Hunsinger prepetrated on good people in Seattle . . ."

The writer was correct: the moderator does not choose to post his or her comment.

I'll offer a compromise, somewhere between simply deleting the comment and posting it as written: I'll summarize what I see as the writer's message, while taking away some of the writer's strong rhetoric. (The strong imagery the writer used is not absent from blogs and other forums; I just choose not to have it here.)

The writer suggests that Maleng's career achievements are more than offset by his mistakes. The writer disagrees strongly with prosecutors' decision not to prosecute Jerramy Stevens, who was accused of rape, and certain other UW athletes. The writer suggests that this prosecutorial decision imperilled many women.

For more on the Jerramy Stevens case, see Convicted of assault and accused of rape, star player received raft of second chances, Seattle Times, Jan. 31, 2008. That story was part of a series, Victory and Ruins: The disturbing story behind the last great UW team -- and how its legacy still casts a shadow on the Huskies.