King County Prosecuting Attorney – Dan Satterberg

Judicial Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Dan Satterberg
  • Position Sought: King County Prosecuting Attorney (Incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 33rd
  • Democrat: Yes

Campaign Information

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

I am a Seattle area native, a graduate of Highline High School and the University of Washington undergraduate and law school.

In 1985 I joined the King County Prosecutor’s Office in the Criminal Division and spent the next five years trying all types of cases. Norm Maleng asked me to be the office gang prosecutor in 1988, and two years later when Chief of Staff Bob Lasnik became a Superior Court judge, Norm asked me to fill that role. I was just 30 years old when I began a wonderful 17 year stint as Chief of Staff.

When Norm died suddenly in May 2007, I ran to succeed him and lead the office. We are a big office, with 240 attorneys and 250 staff. We handle approximately 18,000 criminal cases a year and also we provide legal counsel to all parts of King County government. It is a great job with no dull moments, even when we might wish for one.

I met Linda Norman in law school on Orientation Day and we married right after the Bar exam. We have two wonderful adult children, James and Katie who are recent graduates of the UW. Among the many activities we enjoy is our eight-piece classic rock dance-party band, The Approximations.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team of talented and dedicated deputy prosecutors and professional staff. Together we have built one of the finest prosecutor’s offices in the nation. To continue to lead our office in service of justice is my greatest professional honor.

2. What law firms or public law offices (i.e. King County Prosecutor’s Office) have you worked for? Have you served as a prosecutor or a public defender? Please include dates, and title for each position that you have held, as well as areas of law practiced.

King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office:
-Criminal Division (1985-1990)
-Chief of Staff (1990-2007)
-King County Prosecuting Attorney (2007-present)

3. Have you ever served as a mediator or arbitrator? (If so, please describe your experiences.) If you are an incumbent, do you perform settlement conferences?


4. Have you been a judge pro-tem? If so, what was that experience like? What did you learn from it?


5. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?

Integrity, curiosity, work-ethic and decisiveness.

6. What prompted you to run for this office? What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?

I am running for re-election in order to continue to serve the people of King County and the cause of justice, as well as to move forward with the work that I have begun undertaking progressive criminal justice reform in our office. Throughout my career I’ve led with my values, which have always aligned with core Democratic principles:
-I am 100% Pro-Choice, and have received past support from NARAL;
-I was among the first elected endorsers of marriage equality and have always spoken out for LGBTQ+ rights;
-I was the first prosecutor to endorse I-594, establishing universal background checks for private firearm purchases;
-Building on unflinching support for firearm reforms, I proudly supported I-1491 (Extreme Risk Protection Orders), and have dedicated a full-time team that has removed dozens of guns from people in dangerous situations;
-I am a strong advocate for and have lobbied for abolition of capital punishment in Washington State;
-I’m an original partner in Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs, our public health approach to drug addiction that replaces criminal justice for possession of small amounts of narcotics.
-I developed community-based diversion programs for juveniles and supported a bill to reduce the number of juveniles in adult court and prisons.

7. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

Since I filed for re-election, I have received a strong groundswell of support from voters and from organizations and elected officials I’ve been working with for decades in the service of King County. I have an active campaign that will appeal to voters by making them aware of my values and record. I am meeting with and speaking to community groups, Democratic LDs, progressive advocacy organizations, elected officials, and others, and plan to be knocking on doors and talking directly with voters.


Part II – Position-specific

1. Do you support making it easier for Washingtonians who are not members of the bar to access public records, particularly at the Superior/District court levels, where per-page fees are charged?

Yes. In my office we have a team of people who do nothing but respond to public records requests. WE do not charge for that.

2. Do you have any thoughts on how our courts should address the growing use of smartphones during court proceedings, particularly by jurors?

When selected for a case jurors should not use cell phones during proceedings, obviously. The more significant issue is the use of the Internet to do independent research on a case history or a disputed scientific fact at issue. The blanket instruction from the court usually covers the temptation of jurors to research the law, facts or issues.

3. Is Washington relying too much on court fees to cover the cost of operating our judicial system? How do you believe our courts should be funded?

Yes. Our courts should be funded out of the general fund. I supported the Legislature’s bill restricting Legal Financial Obligations last year, as well as eliminating the 12% interest rate the clerks assess on outstanding fines and fees.


Part III – Access to Justice

1. If elected, how will you work to improve access to justice, particularly for communities and constituencies that do not understand the American legal system?

The victims of crime tend to be among the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our community. In our office, we have staff who work as victim advocates, and we provide access to civil legal aid through a new program called Project Safety. We have adopted standards to consider potential immigration consequences of criminal convictions and are working with immigration attorneys to make sure that we do not unwittingly make a person more vulnerable to potential deportation by ICE.

2. What does the phrase Black Lives Matter mean to you as a judicial candidate?

It means that we have a moral imperative to address the racially disproportionate effects of the criminal justice system. I have made mandatory for my office training on cultural competency and implicit bias, and brought in speakers to address racial history in our nation, like Jeff Robinson of the ACLU, who gave a 3-hour talk to my office about history lessons we were never taught.

I also have formed an African-American Advisory Council which meets quarterly to discuss issues of justice and community engagement with young people caught up in the court system. The members of this Council represent sectors of education, government, clergy, social services, and formerly incarcerated.

We know that our drug control policies have relied too heavily on the criminal justice system, with racially disproportionate impacts. As prosecutor, I have been at the forefront of criminal justice reform, developing a program for the diversion of drug offenders that has become a national model: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), our public health approach to drug addiction that replaces criminal justice for possession of small amounts of narcotics. Since 2007, the percentage of inmates in Washington State prisons serving sentences only for drug crimes has steadily, and rapidly, declined. We are making progress, but there is much work still to do.

I have also initiated and supported clemency applications for 17 men and women, mostly African-Americans, who were given life sentences, most under our state’s three-strikes law. I have opposed this law’s “one size fits all” approach and have pushed the legislature and prosecutors to reform it. Meanwhile, we have an active clemency and second-look practice in my office and invite cases to review for potential support.

3. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?

Here is what I have been working on:
-Divert more cases away from the court system to a community-based accountability response.
-Build a public health response to drug possession cases and cases influenced by mental health concerns.
-Return discretion to sentencing courts, and expand the clemency process for second-looks at older cases.
-Keep serious juvenile cases in juvenile court, and expand the jurisdiction of the court so that young people do not wind up in adult prison.
-Reform our expectations of prison conditions, programming and outcomes.
-Support the 8,000 people who are released from Department of Corrections each year in WA, to reduce recidivism, improve public safety and avoid building the next prison.


By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Dan Satterberg

Date: 06/15/2018

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