Report: Long case-filing delays and dismissals continue in Seattle City Attorney's office

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes' office declines to file charges in almost half of all non-traffic-related criminal cases that Seattle police refer for prosecution, according to a new report released Monday by the Downtown Seattle Association.

Holmes' office also takes six months on average to file cases when a suspect is not in custody, and four out of 10 non-traffic misdemeanor cases filed by Holmes' office "achieve no meaningful resolution," according to the report.

"Police spend tens-of-thousands of hours developing misdemeanor cases that either never get filed or the cases sit at the City Attorney's Office for such a long time that they eventually get dismissed," according to report. "And many businesses that face major issues with crime under-report it because doing so seems fruitless."

At the time, staff for City Attorney Pete Holmes said they are facing technology, funding and manpower issues.

However, in dozens of cases reviewed by KIRO 7 it appeared that no additional police investigation was needed before filing charges.

That is something also reflected in the Downtown Seattle Association Report released Monday.

On the campaign trail in 2009, Holmes made it clear he wanted changes in the City Attorney's office. One clear area of change is the overall number of cases filed.

In 2011, Holmes office filed 33 percent fewer cases than his predecessor did in 2009, according to Seattle Municipal Court records obtained by KIRO 7. Most of the reduction is in cases other than domestic violence and drunken driving. Follow this link to see the case filings from 2008 through 2016.

In 2010, Holmes' first year in office, he fired 14 attorneys and replaced some with less-experienced lawyers, according to a Seattle Times report. He also added two administrative positions. In that article, former Criminal Division Chief Bob Hood said, "I have never seen a more inept, disorganized and, quite frankly, vindictive transition than this one in 30 years of public life."

The report released Monday was created by Scott Lindsay, a former public safety advisor to former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray who lost to Holmes in 2017, the most recent election for Seattle City Attorney. Lindsay or members of his campaign were not sources for KIRO 7's 2017 investigation.

Lindsay's report released Monday is a follow-up to his look at a sample of 100 prolific offenders, their repeat criminal behavior and their cycling through the criminal justice system.

"Nothing has changed since these issues were flagged in the business associations' first report: it would take at least an additional $2 million per year for enough prosecutors and staff to consider all cases for filing within 48 hours of receipt, and seeing the cases through to disposition," Holmes said Monday in a statement. "I'd welcome the input of anyone wanting to develop a strategy for how to best increase funding for my office - hopefully this funding would be coupled with sufficient resources for Courts to fashion remedies that best minimize recidivism, substance abuse, and mental health issues."

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