Tuesday, October 4, 2022
HomeOpinionThe Times recommends: Adam Eisenberg for Seattle Municipal Court

The Times recommends: Adam Eisenberg for Seattle Municipal Court




With continuing community concerns about crime and the city’s legal system, attention has focused on Seattle Municipal Court.

Voters would be well-served by returning Judge Adam Eisenberg to the bench. His work on effective interventions, particularly with domestic violence offenders, serves as a model for how best to balance public safety with second chances.

Seattle Municipal Court handles misdemeanor crimes that carry a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail for such offenses as driving under the influence, domestic violence, theft and trespass. Its seven elected judges and five magistrates also hear civil infractions and other offenses under Seattle Municipal Code and state laws.

Chosen by his colleagues to serve as Presiding Judge of Seattle Municipal Court, Eisenberg helped create the Domestic Violence Intervention Project. This is an alternative to jail, focusing on individualized treatment for those who commit violence against their intimate partners.

While the Domestic Violence Intervention Project has been relatively uncontroversial, that has not been the situation with Community Court, a release-first program which allowed cases to be resolved with relatively minimal obligations while avoiding incarceration.

Last April, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison wanted to change the agreement between her office and Seattle Municipal Court that automatically sent repeat offenders to Community Court. After some back and forth, the court consented to allow more leeway on how those cases are handled. Eisenberg agreed with the City Attorney’s position.

“I believe it was appropriate for the prosecutor to have that discretion,” he said, adding that he still retains the ability to direct people to Community Court, although it was not suitable for every offender.

Eisenberg is challenged by Pooja Vaddadi, an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law. She previously served as a public defender. An accomplished attorney, Vaddadi has not made a convincing argument for change.

In her campaign material, Vaddadi said she wants to “elevate the standard of judicial competence,” although she concedes she never argued a case before Eisenberg. Instead, she told the editorial board that the entire Seattle Municipal Court bench handed down rulings that were “nakedly biased in favor of the prosecution.” She added: “Nobody is getting a fair shake in that court.”

One can assume that Vaddadi would seek to remedy that perception by bringing her own strong opinions to the bench. Seattle residents would not be well served by such a jurist.

Eisenberg’s experience and community values make him the best choice. Voters should return him to Seattle Municipal Court.

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