Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg will not seek re-election
King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced today that he will not seek re-election. In a video announcement (see below) released to the press, Satterberg noted his long standing admiration for his predecessor Norm Maleng and his successes such as being among the first to have a remote domestic violence protection order service, the establishment of a "data dashboard" providing information to the public on the office's performance, the creation of diversion programs to help prevent crime, and also the challenges of high case loads. He expressed his faith that the office would be able to get through the current overload and serve justice more efficiently.
Satterberg said he intends to serve out his last year, "determined to finish well."
Here's the text of his statement (video can be seen below)
Hello, I am Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney. Thanks for sharing a couple minutes with me today from the studios of King County Television.
2022 marks my 37th year as a member of this office; the 15th year as the elected Prosecuting Attorney.
In many ways, this is the most important year of my service, with our team facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic.
It will also be my last year with the office. After four terms, I have decided to not seek re-election this year.
Serving in this office has been an extraordinary privilege for me, and being the elected PA is the best job that I could ever have, but it’s not the only thing that I ever want to do with my life.
I have been a part of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office since I was a Rule 9 intern at Juvenile Court in 1984. The next year I was hired as a deputy prosecuting attorney, and the amazing journey began for me.
After 5 years as a criminal deputy, trying all types of cases, in 1990 I was appointed to be Chief of Staff by then-Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng.
Norm took a chance on me. I was 30 years old. We were nothing alike. He was the dairy farmer from Acme. I was the bass player from Burien. Norm taught me so much about the role of the prosecuting attorney, and also just about being a decent human being.
For some people in the office today, Norm is a legendary figure – the kind of person they name courthouses after.
For me and other old-timers in the office, we remember Norm as a gentle and thoughtful and principled man, an eternal optimist and a man who suffered so publicly after his daughter Karen was killed in a sledding accident in 1989. He taught us all how to live after life’s toughest blow.
Working with Norm will always be the highlight of my career, and his mentorship prepared me to take over upon his death. His death in office at the age of 68 is also a lesson that I take as I reflect on how to spend my finite years.
All the smart people I have ever known will take a moment in a situation like this and thank their partner because a career is a shared experience. I met Linda Norman on the first day of law school in 1982. We got married two weeks after the bar exam. We’ve raised two wonderful children while each pursuing meaningful legal careers. She’s a leader in the legal team at Microsoft and the X-Box general counsel, which she calls the department of fun.
We’ve been there for each other throughout this whole time, and spending time at home with Linda during COVID period has convinced me that home is where I want to be.
There will be time for further reminiscence, and reflections on how much has changed since 1985, how much remains to be changed in the criminal justice system and I have 358 days left in my term.
So, what now?
I am determined to finish well. Over the next 12 months we will cement the gains and the innovations and adaptations from the last 15 years. We’ll also look for the positive lessons that we have learned during this time of COVID.
- When the pandemic started, we were the first in the state and one of the first offices in the nation to have a 100% remote domestic violence protection order service. That meant that people who were trapped at home with abusers no longer needed to physically come down to the courthouse to get court-ordered protection.
- We were also one of the first in the state and one of the first in the nation to create a data dashboard – revealing in great detail our work, our priorities and the challenges that await. We make informed decisions based on this data. It’s right there on the front page of our office website for anyone to see.
- We are also launching new and innovative community partnerships and diversion programs with trusted community non-profit organizations that are here to help victims of crime as well as the people who have caused the harm.
- I am encouraged by the support of the County Executive and County Council for our community-based diversion programs. We have the goals of interrupting violence, of decreasing crime, and creating community connections that are part of accountability.
- We’ve done all of this while also filing roughly 25-30 cases felony every day. These are the most serious crimes that occur in King County – murders and assaults, armed robbery, residential burglaries, sexual assaults, child abuse, among many others. Most of our cases never make the news -- but we’re in court every day, trying jury trials, filing serious violent cases and resolving cases. During the COVID period, things have slowed, but never stopped.
Today, many of our Criminal Division team members are carrying extraordinary caseloads. It will take time, it will take talent, it will take additional resources. But we will get through and we will meet this challenge.
Across the country, election for the office of prosecuting attorney elections are drawing widespread attention.
People are intensely interested in our work, in the power we wield, in the decisions that we make, the things that we do that shape the justice system here locally.
I believe when people look objectively at the work done in this office, they too will see the thoughtfulness that is given to each case.
There are so many people in our office who I am extraordinarily proud of and do extraordinary work every day on behalf of the people of King County.
I do expect that whoever is astute enough to be elected to serve in this role in November will also be smart enough to see and recognize the brilliance of the people who make up this office.
It is an office that needs a leader for sure, but it’s fundamentally strong with outstanding people and a strong culture. This office is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
This office also has a culture of continuous improvement. Our team has shown the courage to change. We’ve taken a deep dive into our policies and practices looking through the lens of equity and social justice. We approach our work with humility and a willingness to learn.
This office that we have built together, it’s a special one. We are not perfect, but we are also not afraid to critically examine ourselves and our work.
James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.”
Our work brings us face-to-face with the truth about systemic racism and racial injustice that’s inherent in criminal justice law and policies. Our work requires us to commit to a remedial learning of American history to see and learn and feel the uncomfortable truths about our nation’s history.
We have worked to share our power and our challenges with the community that we serve, and by doing that to increase justice and decrease suffering.
We thoughtfully divert and deflect select cases away from the system and into the community. And we work together to build community-based public health responses to behavioral health needs of the people most marginalized among us.
We support re-entry after prison, we support second looks and clemency and re-sentencing to make sure that we get it right. And we work for more humane conditions in our prisons, in our jails and for opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to succeed once they are out.
Our office is a national model with recognized subject matter experts in so many disciplines. You know who you are. It’s been my honor to be associated with each and every one of you.
There are more than 575 employees in our office serving in the Criminal, the Civil, the Family Support divisions, Juvenile Division and in the front office. But the backbone of the office has always been the many support staff who make everything work. The public may not see their names on court documents, but we all know that they’re the ones who do the work and make this office work for the people of King County.
For the remainder of 2022, and for many years beyond, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will be a public law office that expects excellence, embraces innovation and lives up to its mission statement: to do justice for the people of King County.
Thank you for this unique opportunity to spend my entire career here in this office. Every day has been a privilege, and I will embrace each remaining day as your Prosecuting Attorney until I retire on December 31st, 2022.
Until then, be healthy, be safe, and be well.