Pete Holmes (politician)
|Holmes addressing the crowd from the main stage of the 2012 Seattle Hempfest|
|Seattle City Attorney|
January 1, 2010
|Born||Peter S. Holmes
March 21, 1956
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Residence||Seward Park, Seattle, Washington|
|Alma mater||Yale College (B.A. 1978)
University of Virginia School of Law (J.D. 1984)
|Website||City Attorney Pete Holmes|
Pete Holmes is the Seattle City Attorney. He was elected in November of 2009, defeating incumbent Tom Carr by a wide margin. He has stated that he will seek reelection for another term as City Attorney in 2013.
Previous to his election, Holmes served as an original member of the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB), a citizen review board which reviews police policy and procedures and maintains civilian oversight of the police department. He served as chair of OPARB between 2003 and 2008, where he advocated for public release of police records and OPARB reports.
Early life and education
Holmes was born in Richmond, Virginia, and grew up in Buckingham County where he attended school. He went on to obtain a bachelor of arts from Yale College, majoring in American studies with a concentration in energy and environmental sciences. He graduated in 1978, and went to work at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington D.C. In 1984, he earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, he moved to Ohio, and then Seattle to begin practicing bankruptcy law. He remained in private practice for over 25 years.
In March 2009, Holmes announced that he would challenge incumbent City Attorney Tom Carr, largely because of disagreements over the handling public disclosure for OPARB and police records. The campaign soon revealed substantial philosophical differences between the two candidates as to the role of the City Attorney. Carr stated that his role was to represent city government and provide "neutral legal advice," whereas Holmes stated that he would act as an advocate for the people of Seattle, and would work in their interest.
Holmes won widespread support from area Democrats, including the King County Democrats, as well as the 11th, 37th and 43rd District groups, while Carr drew support from the Seattle Police Officer's Guild and a former federal prosecutor. Holmes stated that he would not prosecute people for possession of marijuana, in line with a 2003 voter-approved initiative making it the lowest priority for law enforcement, whereas Carr maintained that prosecution of possession "in conjunction with other crimes" was within his authority as City Attorney. Eventually, Holmes received endorsements from both The Seattle Times and The Stranger, in large part due to the fact that he was seen as more accountable to the public.
Holmes won the election by a 26 point margin.
Holmes' first term has been an eventful one for the City, as evidenced by some of the high-profile activities he has been involved in. In the winter of 2010 and 2011, opponents of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel collected signatures to place on the ballot both an initiative and a referendum opposing the project. The initiative, prospectively named I-101, would seek to void the contracts made between the City of Seattle and the State of Washington necessary to proceed with construction, while the referendum sought to approve or reject the contracts once they had been finalized by the City Council. In March, Holmes filed a motion with the King County Superior Court seeking declaratory judgment against the proposed referendum, on the grounds that referenda are typically used to seek citizen review of legislation, and that voiding of administrative contracts was an improper application of the referendum process. Despite drawing criticism from tunnel advocates and local media, Holmes said that he was not attempting to block the referendum as such, but rather to ensure that it would be enforceable if approved by voters. The presiding judge ruled that the referendum would go to the ballot, where construction of the tunnel was eventually approved by voters. In a separate move, Holmes sued to prevent Initiative 101 from making the same ballot, arguing that a city initiative did not have the power to prevent the state from constructing a state highway. In this case, the judge agreed, and Initiative 101 was struck from the August ballot.
Shortly after taking office, Holmes began asking prosecutors in the Attorney's Office to seek 364 day maximum sentences for misdemeanor crimes. This was in response to federal legislation which treats all misdemeanor crimes with year long sentences as felonies when the defendant is not a citizen of the United States. In cases like these, immigration authorities are automatically alerted and deportation proceedings started, even for longtime legal residents. Through reducing sentences by one day, Holmes hoped to avoid these automatic deportations and allow for greater flexibility in the system. A year later, the Washington State Legislature changed the maximum sentence for misdemeanor crimes to 364 days, in part at Holmes' urging. Legal residents convicted of felonies, as well as misdemeanor domestic violence, still face deportation under the law.
In the months after Holmes was elected, arrests for possession of marijuana increased significantly, but none of these cases were prosecuted. While one case was filed, the office stated that this was an error, and in other respects Holmes abided by his campaign promise not to prosecute cases of marijuana possession. He authored an editorial in the Seattle Times calling for legalization, and has since endorsed a state initiative to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adult use.
In the summer of 2011 and away from City Hall, Holmes began to advocate vocally in support of Washington Initiative 502, a state ballot initiative aimed at legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adult recreational use. As one of the earliest sponsors of 502, Holmes edited drafts of the initiative and secured the support of John McKay, a former United States Attorney. He spoke at Hempfest, an annual gathering advocating legalization of marijuana, where he supported 502's passage on behalf of New Approach Washington, the initiative's sponsor. A "front rank campaigner" for legalization, Holmes frequently provided his legal opinion in local press, radio, and television broadcasts, and took part in public debates as an advocate of legalization where he framed the issue as a method of confronting racially disproportionate drug enforcement.
On Election Day, Initiative 502 passed by ten points. Since, Holmes has worked to clarify the details of the new law, and has stated a commitment to work with federal regulators and Justice Department officials to reach agreement on how Washington's legalization will be affected by federal law. The depth of Holmes's involvement in I-502 was such as to lead to what the state's Public Disclosure Commission characterized as inadvertent, minor violations of state law, due to his failure to consistently keep his advocacy completely separate from the marijuana policy aspects of his city work.
In 2011, the Seattle Police Department was subject to a Department of Justice investigation, which found that officers had engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive use of force. The Justice Department alleged that one in every five uses of force by an officer violated the Constitution's protections against illegal search and seizure, and further noted concerns about discriminatory policing, though no specific violations were identified. Seattle Police Chief John Diaz reacted with skepticism, claiming that there were concerns with the validity of the Justice Department's report. On March 29, 2012, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a plan to reform the police department which promised "20 initiatives in 20 months." The so-called "20/20" initiative was criticized by Justice Department representatives for failing to set measurable goals for enforcement. In two separate letters addressed to Holmes, Justice Department attorney Jonathan Smith accused City officials of negotiating in poor faith after several documents related to the investigation were leaked by the City. Shortly after this, Holmes sent the mayor's office a strongly worded letter urging him and the City's negotiating team to cooperate with the Justice Department, and warning that the July 31 negotiating deadline set by the Department was likely the last chance for the City to avoid a federal lawsuit. Following a series of last-minute negotiations, the City and Justice Department arrived at a workable compromise on July 26; a settlement agreement announced the next day included substantial reforms of police practices.
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- Intern, Unpaid (12/7/11). "Goodbye, Slog!!!". The Stranger. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "About Pete Holmes". Seattle City Attorney's Office. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Perry, Nick (10/1/12). "Seattle city attorney candidates object -- to each other". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Holmes, Pete. "Briefly About Me". Washington State Bar Association. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
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- Holden, Dominic (12/9/10). "One Anti-Tunnel Campaign Calls the Kettle Black". The Stranger. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
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- Lindblom, Mike (3/29/11). "City attorney sues to prevent tunnel vote". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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- Thompson, Lynn (4/13/11). "Seattle City attorney files suit against another tunnel measure". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Thompson, Lynn (7/18/2011). "Judge keeps anti-tunnel Initiative 101 off Seattle ballot". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Editorial Staff (7/16/2010). "Law tweak injects fairness for noncitizens charged with misdemeanor crimes". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Sullivan, Jennifer (7/21/12). "New state law protects legal immigrants' rights". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Holden, Dominic (8/17/10). "Pot Paradox". The Stranger. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Holden, Dominic (8/3/11). "Pot Arrests More Than Double in 2010; Holmes Still Won't Prosecute". The Stranger. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Heffter, Emily (1/15/10). "Seattle's new city attorney to dismiss cases of pot possession". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Holmes, Pete (2/16/2011). "Washington state should lead on marijuana legalization". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Johnson, Gene (6/22/11). "Activists: New Wash. pot push calibrated to voters". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Shapiro, Nina (26 September 2012). "Alison Holcomb: Pot Mama". The Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- "Speakers List". Seattle Hempfest. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Connelly, Joel (23 November 2012). "McGinn and challengers: The race for mayor begins". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Martin, Jonathan (10 October 2012). "Lively debate over I-502, the marijuana measure, draws big crowd at the UW". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Tan, Thanh (27 September 2012). "Rewind: Live chat on legalizing marijuana in Washington". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Martin, Jonathan (6 November 2012). "Voters approve I-502 legalizing marijuana". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Martin, Jonathan (23 November 2012). "Seattle police guide to legal marijuana goes viral". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- McCue, Duncan. "Legal marijuana". CBC Television. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Young, Bob (2013-01-18). "City Attorney Holmes cited for minor violations /". Seattle Times.
- Carter, Mike, Miletich, Steve, and Jennifer Sullivan (12/16/11). "Diaz on DOJ report: 'Department is not broken'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Carter, Mike (3/30/12). "Seattle mayor announces broad initiative to improve police force". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Miletich, Steve (6/26/12). "Records show deep split between federal, city officials on SPD fixes". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Miletich, Steve, Carter, Mike (7/17/12). "City attorney rebukes McGinn's DOJ strategy". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Carter, Mike, Miletich, Steve (7/27/12). "SPD faces new oversight, scrutiny of use of force". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
|Seattle City Attorney