Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prosecution of Low-End Drug Offenses

Culture Clash: City and County Prosecutors Clash over Drug Prosecutions, The Stranger (Seattle), Nov. 11, 2008:

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr is taking a different approach to closing the half-million-dollar funding gap at his office than his counterparts at King County. While King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg is diverting about 2,300 low-level drug cases away from prosecution and jail to help shave roughly $4 million from his budget, Carr is digging in his heels at city council meetings and defending an enforcement-heavy approach to low-level drug-possession charges.
One commenter points out an important difference between the county and city:
Satterberg has two levels of court to work with – the Superior Court, which can handle felonies, and the District Court, which cannot. Because of this, he can send his felony drug cases from Superior Court down to the lower court to be treated as gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors.

In contrast, Carr only has one court system – the Seattle Municipal Court. This is the equivalent of King County District Court, in that it too only handles gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors. Carr, unlike Satterberg, has no lower court to “divert” his drug cases to.

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