King County Executive Dow Constantine announced three Administrators who will preside over inquests, taking over many of the duties formerly performed by District Court judges. Executive Constantine also named a Pro Tem Attorney to facilitate the process, and released his letter ordering an inquest into the death of Damarius Butts.
In his Executive Order signed Oct. 3, 2018, Executive Constantine instituted a number of reforms to inquests that investigate the circumstances surrounding law-enforcement involved deaths. The King County Council appropriated $700,000 for inquests in the 2019-2020 budget.
Today, Executive Constantine announced the inaugural staff of the new inquest process.
A pool of retired judges will serve as Administrators to oversee the process. They will ultimately decide the questions posed to the six-member jury.
Retired King County District Court judge. Currently, sits as a pro-tem judge for city municipalities as well as the Chair of the National Judicial College Faculty Council to secure experienced judges to teach newer judges in all aspects of their judicial office. Additionally, he teaches a variety of courses in Evidence, Search and Seizure (4th Amendment), and Judicial Ethics as well as contracts with the Washington State Supreme Court/Office of the Administrator for the Courts to teach a comprehensive 4-week online course involving Search and Seizure issues to new judges in the State of Washington.
Retired King County Superior Court judge. He currently mediates and arbitrates over civil cases. He co-founded and chaired the Special Committee on Asbestos Litigation, developing a nationally respected process for resolving asbestos cases. In addition, he has arbitrated over business litigation and professional liability; probate, property and personal injury; and family law. He taught courses on Police, Law and the Community; Substantive Criminal Law; Negotiation and Client Counseling.
Retired King County Superior Court judge. His experience includes over 14 years of Superior Court trials. Presided over hundreds of proceedings of varying complexity, both civil and criminal ranging from: charges of homicide, sexual assault, and theft to claims of personal injury, employment discrimination and contract and property disputes.
A Pro Tem Staff Attorney will assist the Administrator and serve as facilitator.
Served as a Judge Pro-Tempore at District and Municipal Courts across King and Pierce counties to include: criminal, infraction, protection order, asset forfeiture and small claims. Previously, he was a trial attorney for 17 years.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will continue to assemble the investigative files, and make the recommendation to the Executive to order an inquest, as required by County Charter.
On May 20, 2019, Executive Constantine sent a letter to Hon. Jim Rogers, presiding judge of King County Superior Court, ordering an inquest into the death of Damarius Butts. This begins the process of scheduling a courtroom and jury selection. Butts, 19, was killed by Seattle Police on April 20, 2017, after stealing items from a downtown convenience store and exchanging gunfire with police.
The date of the inquest has not yet been scheduled.
- List of pending inquests
- Letter to Hon. Jim Rogers Re: Order of Inquest into the death of Damarius Butts
- Oct. 3 press release: Executive Constantine announces new process for police inquests
For more information, contact:
Alex Fryer, Executive Office, 206-477-7966