Seattle prosecutors this year already have filed as many homicide cases as they did for all of 2007, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Twenty-seven homicide cases were filed by June, equaling the respective totals for 2007 and 2006. The sudden spike stems mostly from an unusually violent spring, including nine homicide cases filed in one month. Homicide cases take a large amount of resources; the increase is amplifying concerns about anticipated budget cuts that could cost 30 deputy prosecutors next year, said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
The county’s criminal justice system, which includes the jail, sheriff, and courts, could face $33 million in cuts in 2009, including $3.7 million for the prosecutor. Satterberg anticipates having to shift resources from drug possession cases and property crimes in which losses were below $10,000, which could flood municipal courts. Satterberg plans to meet with mayors and city attorneys around the county about shifting lower-level caseloads to municipal and district courts. Despite the increase in cases filed, local violent crime rates declined last year. Seattle experienced the lowest overall crime rate in 40 years and the county homicide rate dropped 13 percent.