As a King County Superior Court judge, I strongly believe that the courts must play a role in addressing racial inequities. The stark racial disproportionality we, as judges, see in arrest rates, prosecutorial charging rates, pre-trial holds and convictions must be addressed. The issues are complicated, and the solutions are far from simple, but it is incumbent upon us to actively remedy inequitable treatment. Examples of areas where judges must weigh in include:
- The practice of detaining individuals charged with property crimes before they are brought to trial;
- The failure of our state to provide attorneys to indigent litigants for family law matters involving children;
- The stringent drug laws that penalize individuals who sell small quantities of illegal drugs as a direct result of their addictions;
- The need for enhanced and more readily available basic needs for indigent individuals including housing, mental health care and addiction treatment;
- The heavy caseloads public defenders carry, a weight so great that it creates inequitable outcomes between those who have money to hire an attorney and those who do not; and
- The ultimate solutions to many of these issues must come from the Legislature, not the courts. But it is incumbent upon us, as judges, to provide the legislature with our first-hand observations of what we see in our courtrooms every day.
We, as judges, cannot ignore the context in which our court exists – one that has been historically unfair to people of color, immigrants, women, individuals struggling with poverty and persons with mental health issues. We will only exacerbate the already existing inequities if we ignore them in the manner in which we administer the court.
-Judge Maureen McKee, King County Superior Court, Pos. 5 (Incumbent Candidate Running Unopposed)