Criminal Prosecutions and Victim’s Assistance.
About two-thirds work of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is directed toward criminal prosecution and serving the needs of victims of crimes. We resolve most cases through settlement because justice and protection of victims often can be obtained through negotiation with defense counsel. Where settlement is not possible, we try cases in the District and Superior Court, and defend convictions on appeal to the Washington Court of Appeals, the Washington Supreme Court, and sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court. We use a variety of tools to resolve approximately 1600 cases per year:
• Some people go to prison.
• Others are appropriate for therapeutic courts such as drug court and mental health court. A team of experts will be involved in the evaluation process.
• Other cases result in diversions or continuances for reduction of charges where the offender has little or no criminal history and public safety issues are thoroughly addressed.
• Others serve a jail sentence, serve time on electronic home monitoring, or perform community service or pay fines.
In all scenarios, community safety, what serves the victim and what is best for the offender in terms of punishment or treatment designed to reduce recidivism are evaluated.
Our Crime Victims’ Coordinator advises crime victims know their rights under Washington’s statutes, lets victims know court dates, sits with victims during interviews with defense attorneys and in court hearings, and helps victims access financial services for things such as counseling and restitution.
We handle child support enforcement matters. Washington State is among the top states in collecting child support but we only collect about 50 cents on the dollar. We run an aggressive program for getting absent parents to comply with their court-ordered child support obligations—or face contempt of court proceedings.
• Alarm Ordinance. In 2017, we drafted an ordinance to increase public safety by requiring registration of security alarms.
• Shooting Area Ordinance. In 2017, we drafted changes needed to No Shooting Area Ordinance which added safety by prohibiting shooting into a no shooting area from outside the area and increased public safety in Ocean Grove and Chimacum Creek.
• Commercial Shooting Facility Moratorium. In 2017, the Board of County Commissioners and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office asked this office to draft an ordinance to address the need for a comprehensive commercial shooting facility ordinance that increases public safety and protects commercial shooting facilities in the future for use by residents and law enforcement.
Major cases testing our land-use laws have been successfully resolved, assuring local control over our laws and policies.
• Shoreline Master Program Upheld. We successfully defended the County’s Shoreline Master Program through appeals to the Growth Management Hearings Board, the Thurston County Superior Court, the Washington Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Washington.
• Shoreline Master Program Permit Requirements. We upheld the requirement of a Shoreline Master Program conditional use permit for proposed geoduck farming operations in Shine.
• Pleasant Harbor Master Planned Resort. We worked with the Board of County Commissioners, the Department of Community Development, the Developer and affected Tribes to draft comprehensive development agreement and development regulations for a proposed development on Black Point in Brinnon.
Solid Waste Enforcement.
Along with County’s Environmental Health, we obtained an abatement order and a contempt order against a property owner who was operating an illegal junk yard with over 100 junk vehicles.
Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act Counseling.
We regularly provide advice on issues related to open government such as the Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act.
In small counties in Washington State with less than 40,000 people the Prosecuting Attorney also serves as the County Coroner. Thanks to a very good working relationship with the Sheriff's Office, all deputy sheriffs are also deputy coroners. That said, the prosecutor and the deputy prosecutors will respond to all complex cases where foul play may have occurred and coroner calls within the City of Port Townsend 24/7/365. The role of the coroner is to determine cause and manner of death. We frequently work with a pathologist who performs autopsies at our direction.
Service on Teams.
Prosecutors serve on several teams, including risk management, Juvenile Offender Information Network, mental health court, drug court, TOPSIDE court for juveniles, a domestic violence team, and a child abuse team. Involvement in these teams provides for better communications in the event of a critical incident, they provide training, they act as a sounding board for complex cases needing real world solutions and they are a source of expertise within the law and justice community. Finally, these various teams and groups provide an incubator for the birth of fresh ideas that lead to the creation of such things as drug court and mental health court and other programs that lead to a healthier community.