Washington State Court of Appeals Judge (Div. 1) – Judge David Mann

Candidate Questionnaire

1. Your name

Judge David Mann

2. Candidate for:

Washington State Court of Appeals Judge (Div. I) — Incumbent
Party Affiliation: N/A

3. Campaign information

4. If elected, what positive changes will you champion that will benefit the 31st LD?

Unlike other elected officials, judges are not able to champion direct changes for the voters.  We are obligated to interpret the law and follow precedent in deciding a complex mix of legal and factual issues.  Many of the cases we hear have a direct bearing on the lives of all citizens, while others only impact only those in unique situations.  However, our work has great meaning to those who have trusted us to make fair and impartial decisions.

5. What are the three most critical issues you expect to encounter in the office you are seeking?

a. Division 1 of the Court of Appeals accepts review of all appeals filed from the trial courts in Northwest Washington. This means the Court reviews and decides more than 700 cases per year.  It is critical that we study the record and the law in each case thoroughly and issue timely and thoughtful decisions that can be understood and followed by our trial court judges and citizens.

b. In large part because of State budget issue, the judiciary lags behind on providing easy and open electronic access to court records. We need to keep moving forward on implementing a court-wide system that will bring easier access to all citizens.

c. Division 1 of the Court of Appeals has a significant number of very experienced judges. Unfortunately, this means that the Court will likely lose many outstanding judges over the next several years due to retirement.   As the newest member of the Court it is incumbent upon me to quickly gain experience and institutional knowledge.

6. Please give us an example of when you had to a make a critical decision that, due to its impact on others, was difficult. Tell us why you made your decision and what, if any, actions you took to mitigate any negative results.

I was recently asked to review an appeal of a sentencing decision in a very difficult gang-related shooting that resulted in the death of one of the victims.  The defendant and victims were 16 years old at the time of the shooting.   Under state law, the defendant was tried as an adult.   Then, due to mandatory sentencing requirements, the defendant was sentenced to over 60 years in prison – effectively a life sentence.  While the shooting was obviously horrific, the U.S. Supreme Court has made very clear over the past several years that states can no longer sentence children defendants to life in prison without first fully exploring and understanding their background, family situation, susceptibility to violent surroundings, and potential for rehabilitation.   While my decision upheld the conviction, I did send the case back to the trial court for resentencing after taking into account the required child related factors.  

7. What methods will you employ to communicate with your constituency on a regular basis?

The judges of Washington’s Court of Appeals uniformly find that most citizens do not even know the Court of Appeals exists, much less what it does.  The Court of Appeals was established more than 40 years ago as an intermediate appellate court to hear arguments and rule on cases appealed from Superior Courts and administrative agencies.  Prior to that date, appeals all went directly to our State Supreme Court, so the creation of the Court of Appeals freed our Supreme Court to rule on matters of broad legal consequence.   One of my goals after this election will be to enlist my colleagues in an educational effort throughout King County.  This is a critical time for the judiciary.  Citizens – and particularly our young people – need to understand and appreciate the important role courts play in our democracy.

8. What other information would you like us to consider?

Here is a synopsis of my background for your consideration:

I was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to fill a vacant seat on the Washington State Court of Appeals and was sworn in as a member of that Court in August 2016. State law requires that I stand for election to retain my seat in 2017.

With undergraduate degrees in geology and geophysics, I worked as a professional in that field for six years before attending law school.  I then launched a 25-year legal career in the State of Washington where I emphasized public interest litigation and appeals on behalf of regional, state and local citizens’ groups, tribes, and individual property owners.  One of the highlights of my career as a lawyer was a successful argument in the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have served as a Board Member of Conservation Northwest, the Northwest Fund for the Environment, and the Washington Environmental Council. My wife, photographer Ellen Witebsky, and I enjoy travel, backpacking, horses, furniture-making, and running the trails of the great Northwest.

I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Signed at: Seattle, WA





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