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caption: Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, along with King County director of public defense Anita Khandelwal, are asking that Seattle Municipal Court's head judge step down.
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Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, along with King County director of public defense Anita Khandelwal, are asking that Seattle Municipal Court's head judge step down.
Credit: Patricia Murphy

200 people may be off the hook for outstanding warrants in Seattle

Pete Holmes, the Seattle city attorney, asked a court to quash 200 nonviolent misdemeanor warrants.

The Seattle City Attorney asked the Municipal Court to consider quashing warrants for certain low-level, nonviolent convictions.

Many of the 208 people were convicted years ago for prostitution or driving with a suspended license, offenses that often fall heavily on people of color.

City Attorney Pete Holmes said the effort aims to correct inequities in the justice system.

“We are going to be able to help our community members emerge from the shadows, and not be living their day-to-day lives in fear of having some ancient warrant come back and trigger an arrest — a disruption in their lives that ultimately costs all of us far too much,” Holmes said.

Having an outstanding warrant makes it harder to get a job and secure housing. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said this move is one step to get at a systemic problem.

“We recognize that our criminal justice system has disproportionately impacted people of color. And we want to ensure our officers can focus on the most violent offenders and protect public safety," Durkan said.

Seattle Municipal Court judges will have the final say. So far there’s no timeline for that decision. But if the court agrees with the city’s motion, the effort will continue.