Seattle Municipal Court has issued an Order defining the process to vacate as many as 542 people’s marijuana possession convictions by mid-November. City Attorney Pete Holmes partnered with Mayor Jenny Durkan in pursuing a motion to vacate the prior convictions earlier this year.
Per the Court Order, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office will provide Seattle Municipal Court with each defendant’s last known address. The Court will then mail notice to each defendant, providing each person the opportunity to object to their conviction being vacated or to ask for individualized findings. After 33 days of the notice being mailed, each person who did not respond will have their conviction automatically vacated (approximately mid-November).
“Take a moment to recognize the significance of the seven judges finding that ‘setting aside the conviction and dismissing the case serves the interests of justice.’ We’ve come a long way, and I hope this action inspires other jurisdictions to follow suit,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. “542 people have criminal records for holding something we can buy in retail storefronts today. In two short months, thanks to our Seattle Municipal Court judges, those convictions will be history.”
“We’ve taken another important step to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs, and to build true economic opportunity for all. Because of the advocacy of our City Attorney, the Seattle Municipal Court agreed with our request to act in the name of justice,” said Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “For too many who call Seattle a home, a misdemeanor marijuana conviction or charge has created barriers to opportunity – to good jobs, housing, loans, and education. It created a permanent criminal record that traveled with people their whole life. And we know now that it disproportionately targeted communities of color. While we cannot reverse all the harm that was done, we will continue to act to give Seattle residents – including immigrants and refugees – a clean slate.”
In April this year, the City filed a motion with Seattle Municipal Court asking the Court to vacate the convictions for Possession of Marijuana from 1996 through 2010. When City Attorney Pete Holmes was elected in 2010, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office stopped prosecuting marijuana possession cases. In 2012, Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, which eliminated state criminal penalties for possession of personal use of marijuana for adults.
Members of the public can confirm whether they have a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction by visiting the Seattle Municipal Court’s portal using the “Defendant Search” in the left-hand toolbar. Any members of the public who need clarification on their marijuana possession conviction may call the Seattle Municipal Court at (206) 684-5600.