Pete Holmes – City of Seattle Attorney
Pete has been an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs, dismissing all pending marijuana possession cases upon taking office on Jan. 1, 2010, and declining to file any subsequent charges. The following year, he became a primary sponsor of Initiative 502, culminating in Washington’s historic 2012 vote to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. He remains active in shaping Washington’s fledgling regulated marijuana industry.
Also in his first year in office, Pete acted to dramatically reduce prosecutions of DWLS3 (driving while license suspended, third degree), otherwise known as “driving while poor.” He instructed prosecutors to stop requesting suspended jail sentences totaling 365 days in order to avoid mandatory deportations of documented immigrants convicted of minor crimes. The following year, Pete helped convince the Legislature to limit the maximum jail sentence for every misdemeanor in the state to 364 days, thus limiting the reach of dysfunctional federal immigration laws across the state. Pete is an ardent supporter of Seattle’s Race & Social Justice Initiative.
Pete has long been an advocate for police reform. Shortly after taking office, he ended a decades-long practice of outsourcing the defense of officers to a private law firm. Officers now are ably represented by in-house police action attorneys, as well as outside counsel when conflicts arise. The City’s defense of Section 1983 claims in the Western District of Washington is ongoing even as the Seattle Police Department (SPD) works with a federal court monitor to end unconstitutional policing practices documented by the U.S. Justice Department in a 2011 investigation, pursuant to a pending consent decree. Pete was appointed in 2002 by City Council as an original member of SPD’s first civilian oversight body, the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, and served as chair from 2003 to 2008.
As City Attorney Pete has worked to make Seattle municipal government more transparent. He was appointed to the State Sunshine Committee by Governors Gregoire and Inslee. On the national front, Pete is proud to be a founding member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence and Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, and is a longtime member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
Before his election, Pete worked as a business litigation attorney in Seattle for almost 25 years. He graduated from Yale College in 1978 with a B.A. degree in American Studies, concentrating in Energy and Environmental Sciences. He worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., in Washington, D.C., before entering the University of Virginia School of Law, where he earned his J.D. in 1984.