The House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advance Rep. Chris Gildon’s House Bill 2465 Wednesday. Gildon, R-Puyallup, introduced the bill as a means of increasing transparency for elected prosecutors.
“As an elected official, you can visit my website and see exactly how I’ve voted on every bill since I joined the Legislature,” said Gildon. “That same level of transparency does not exist for elected prosecutors.”
Some of Gildon’s concern about this issue stems from findings in a report titled System Failure 2: Declines, Delays and Dismissals. According to this report, the Seattle city prosecutor denied taking action on 17% of cases presented by law enforcement in 2007. That number grew to almost 50% in 2017.
While Rep. Gildon understands there may be valid reasons not to prosecute, such as lack of evidence, that high of a percentage does raise concerns.
“I understand there are several factors that contribute to a prosecutor’s decision to act on a particular case or not and I do not want to interfere with their discretion,” added Gildon. “However, I strongly believe the people of Washington have the right to know how prosecutors are conducting business so they can determine if they approve of their elected officials’ actions or not.”
This bill would require all elected prosecutors to submit an annual report stating, at minimum: the number of cases presented by law enforcement, the number of cases prosecuted, the number of cases dismissed without action, and a short narrative explanation of the prosecutors’ actions.
The bill now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.
The 2020 session is scheduled to run 60 days and end on March 12.