King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg has announced that he is not seeking re-election.
“In many ways, this is the most important year of my service, with our team facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic,” Satterberg said in a Jan. 7 announcement. “It will also be my last year with the office. After four terms, I have decided to not seek re-election this year.”
Satterberg is in his 15th year as the county prosecuting attorney, and this year also marks his 37th year with the King County office. He is retiring Dec. 31, 2022.
His career began in 1984 when he was hired as a Rule 9 intern in juvenile court. The next year, he become a deputy prosecuting attorney. He spent five years as a criminal deputy until 1990, when he was appointed chief of staff by the late Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng.
Maleng died in 2007 at age 68 due to cardiac arrest during a University of Washington event. Because of Maleng’s passing, Satterberg was appointed interim prosecuting attorney and was elected to the position that same year. He then ran unopposed in the 2010 and 2014 elections.
“Norm took a chance on me,” Satterberg said. “Norm taught me so much about the role of the prosecuting attorney, and also just about being a decent human being.”
A career is also a shared experience, he said. Satterberg met his wife, Linda Norman, on their first day of law school in 1982. The couple married two weeks after the bar exam and have raised two children together, he said. She is a deputy general counsel for the Xbox group.
“We’ve been there for each other throughout this whole time, and spending time at home with Linda during the COVID period has convinced me that home is where I want to be,” he said.
Over the next 12 months, Satterberg said he plans to continue the necessary gains, innovations and adaptions of his last 15 years in office.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) was the first in the state to offer fully remote services for domestic violence protection orders. It was also one of the first to create a data dashboard in 2020 to detail the types of cases filed, provide data on felony referrals, show demographics of filings and more.
Satterberg acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused backups in case filings at King County court, saying “things have slowed, but never stopped.”
As of spring 2021, the office is experiencing a backlog of over 6,000 open felony cases in need of plea negotiations or trial.
The next person to hold the prosecuting attorney title is expected to operate through the lens of equity and social justice with a willingness to learn, he said.
Satterberg is the fourth man to hold the position since 1949, according to the Seattle Times.
“People are intensely interested in our work, in the power we wield, in the decisions that we make, the things that we do that shape the justice system here locally,” Satterberg said. “I believe when people look objectively at the work done in this office, they too will see the thoughtfulness that is given to each case.”