Shocking News of the Day

Back in the 2009 City Attorney’s race, in a response to a question about pursuing low-level marijuana cases, Tom Carr replied:

You’re apparently reading from the Stranger. You’re talking about relatively small numbers. We do between a hundred and 200 cases a year. Whether we prosecute depends on the report that’s in front of us; whether or not it’s a case. Most of our marijuana cases are cases that come in when we’ve got another crime, so someone gets in a bar fight and they have marijuana in their pocket. That’s pretty much all we do.

So now that Pete Holmes has taken over Carr’s office and announced that he’s no longer prosecuting people for marijuana possession, what’s he finding out?

As PubliCola reported (via Twitter) from our Town Hall event with City Attorney Pete Holmes last night, Holmes’ new criminal division director Craig Sims is in the process of reviewing all outstanding marijuana prosecutions pursued by former City Attorney Tom Carr.

Interestingly, although Carr insisted repeatedly that he was only prosecuting cases with associated crimes (e.g., resisting arrest with pot in your pocket), Mulady says most of the cases Sims has reviewed so far are “stand-alone marijuana cases”—the sort of cases the city attorney and police were explicitly instructed not to pursue after the passage of Initiative 75, which made marijuana possession the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.

No kidding! So an overzealous law enforcement official with a penchant for nanny crusades was lying about what his office was doing? Who could’ve seen that coming?


  1. 1

    FricknFrack spews:

    Hmmm, so was that the reason for Holmes firing those 14 persons in the office for “philosophical disagreements with him”?

    This seems like a reasonable start, Carr always seemed like a loose cannon.

  2. 2


    It’s just occurring to me now that they should have asked how many of those cases began explicitly before election day versus after, or a month by month breakdown–that sort of detailing is trivial to put together.

    I’d love to see if any of these happened while the former CA was campaigning one way and then doing something else.

  3. 3

    nemo spews:

    Well, it looks like that ‘hidden hand of the market’ is finally making it’s presence known in the affairs of DrugWarriors…as in it’s getting too expensive for the taxpayers for law enforcement to hunt down and incarcerate pot smokers. Got lots better things to do than waste money on that, like catch murderers, rapists, child molesters, those sorts. You know, the ones that might shoot back?

  4. 4


    Why is this shocking?

    I thought that Carr’s limited enthusiasm for NOT enforcing this law was the cause celebre of the campaign?

    It would be interesting to take a similar look at charges of trespass, jay walking, seat belt, 3o mph in a 25 mph zone, etc. etc.

    For that matter can anyone rell me what is indecent exposure?

    Hell, did you y’all know that consuming alcohol in a public space w/o a permit it illegal too? Imagine what would happen if that were enforced for every 4th of July, at the Locks on Sunday, or Woodland Park?

    Ever see a cop measure the distance between a smoker and the bar entrance?

    We will always have nuisance laws.

  5. 6

    Alki Postings spews:

    This is why it’s import to just legalize marijuana or just have it stay illegal. These sort of in between laws that say “don’t make it a priority” are too vague and always up to interpretation. I’m not a pot smoker myself, but it pisses me off to see our law enforcement spending a second of valuable time on this sort of nonsense.

    We put up with alcohol fueled domestic violence, bar fights and drunk driving all to protect our “freedom” to have alcohol, so just add marijuana in there and be done with it.

  6. 7

    ArtFart spews:

    Interesting that almost the entire section of the Times’ Sunday rotogravure was essentially an extended editorial about why Uncle Frank and the gang think Greg Nickels got tossed out of his job. It churns through all kinds of stuff about our former mayor’s being (in their opinion) too heavy-handed with environmental issues and development. It doesn’t mention anything about the issue brought up here, or Nickels/Carr’s attempt to impose a set of nightclub ordinances even worse than had been proposed by Mark Sidran–and then that stupid, ham-fisted night-club “sting” a couple years ago when they ran into significant opposition. Or, for that matter, the flap about vice cops going in the back room, letting strippers actually get them off, and then busting them.

    Then there’s the Nickels’ participating in the “war on homelessness” by declaring war on the homeless themselves…

  7. 8

    SJ spews:

    @7 Fart

    I think Nichols lost because from the beginning he followed a machine democrat model is a city where the machine does nto work all that well for dems.

    His machine consisted of an amalgam of Seattle downtown developers and the unions .. an unholy alliance reminiscent of Lee Atwater’s invention.

    The problem with these machines is that the average Seattle Jo and Jane really do not care a lot what the union of developer bosses have to say.

    Seattle used to be a city of neighborhoods. That is still true though the composition of the hoods is changing. Nickles never did succeed in getting the locals on his side.

    Seattle is also the exemplar for special topics folks … pot, bikes, nightclubs, green-ness, the schools, …. Nickles never got any of these folks on his side either.

    The good news is that money and unions is not (always) enough to win in. The bad news is that LOCAL politics remain supreme nad the Dem party, like Greg N., is NOT doing a very good job of watering its grass roots.

    This is the same lesson we are sadly seeing being played out in Mass. The Dem party needs to wake up, FAST!

  8. 9

    secondary charges spews:

    are also bullshit.

    IF the prosectors don’t got the goods on the so called primary charge of assault, robbery, whatever, then using a m.j. to nail the guy as a so called secondary charge is just unfair anyway.

    Memo to prosecutors:

    -charge, try and convist when you got the goods.
    –if not, DON’T. Maybe they’re not guilty!
    –don’t use bullshit minor charges for selective prosecution to backstop your own lack of proof on the primary charge, that’s cheating.

  9. 10

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    SJ spews:

    This is the same lesson we are sadly seeing being played out in Mass. The Dem party needs to wake up, FAST

    They are too arrogant and out of touch to wake up. Progressivism is a fantasy world SJ…perpetuated by a bunch of elitists and sucked up by a bunch of over-educated idealists who fail to understand the economy and that we must pay back all this massive debt Obam-Mao and his goofballs are manufacturing.

  10. 11

    ArtFart spews:

    @8, @10 If somehow you’re both right, gentleman, (and you may well be) we’re doomed to see an alternation between one brand of incompetence and hubris to another, rolling the Good Ship America from side to side until it eventually capsizes.

  11. 12

    noinjustice spews:

    I have posted this before and I will post it again.
    Alcohol prohibition ended when jurors would no longer convict anyone of an alcohol related crime. Marijuana prohibition is ending the same way. It is getting very hard for prosecutors to get a conviction on any marijuana charge. Most of the time they won’t re-try.
    Please see the website of the fully informed jury association (