September 15th, 2020
Introducing the Honorable Judge Dave Larson. Running for Supreme Court, Position 3 in Washington State.
Written by: Natalie Gauvin & Michelle Darnell
Edited by: Desiree Lindsay
“We need vigorous debate on reforming our justice system and the current system frowns upon that approach. In the effort to improve our courts, we need to do a better job listening to the voices of those that we are supposed to be serving.”
Judge Dave Larson believes we need strong, informed, and reasoned influence on our state’s highest court. Improving our justice system is one of the big reasons he decided to run, believing there needs to be more viewpoint diversity on the Court and a greater respect and appreciation for our State and Federal Constitutions.
The Seattle Times publicly endorsed him for state Supreme Court, Position 6 (2016). The Times stated that, “Larson has the trial, bench and civic experience to be a strong justice” and went on to state that, “he has adjudicated thousands of cases since his appointment to the bench in 2008, pushed for innovative reforms and earned deep community respect.” Read full article here.
Larson admits that judicial campaigns are hard to follow because the real issues facing the judiciary and the public are often avoided but he also believes that we can do better to make judicial races relevant to voters, especially this year. The biggest of these issues include:
- How to properly address the individual and community impacts from addiction, untreated mental illness, and homelessness
- How to address issues of race and the courts
- The impacts of COVID-19 on the courts and the public
- Developing a more public rule-making process
- How to make the system more affordable and accessible to people that need to seek justice
- Judicial campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of money in judicial elections
- The influence of partisan politics in judicial races
- The need for more leadership and experience on our state’s highest court regarding the administration of justice
Larson is challenging the traditional way that we handle cases involving mental health and substance abuse issues. Many of his proposed reforms will also address racial inequality in our courts.
He is proposing common sense and cost-effective alternatives. Larson says, “Currently, we downplay minor first-time offenses as “just misdemeanors” and then wonder why those first-time offenders become chronic offenders. It’s because we need to do more to identify root causes the first time someone is in court and not wait until someone’s life is out of control before we engage in serious intervention.”
The traditional punitive approach thus far has been more damaging than it would be if we treated root causes early. So rather than the current system of using a punitive approach as the default method for addressing first time criminal behavior, then later a therapeutic approach for chronic repeat offenders, he would like to see it in reverse. Larson says, “We need therapeutic intervention first when we can still stop a pattern before it gets out of control. We can then ramp up to more expensive interventions if early intervention doesn’t work to stop criminal behavior.”
Larson believes that the early intervention approach is much more cost effective, yet he is open to a much-needed vigorous discussion. “I am not the type of public official that simply identifies problems without providing suggested solutions, but I am also not the type of person that thinks that I have all of the answers; I see disagreement as an opportunity for growth and understanding not as a challenge to my power or esteem.”
In “Justice Involved Therapeutic Intervention” Judge Larson shares a revolutionary approach to responding to non-violent drug offenses and misdemeanors and addressing inequalities that now plague our courts. This model prioritizes therapeutic and early intervention in an effort to curb behavior that too often spirals toward more serious criminal behavior, destroys life and property, and contributes greatly to homelessness. This is done by providing more intentional linkages and partnerships between the courts and existing resources for behavior health, education, job training, housing, and employment. Read Judge Larson's full "Justice Involved Therapeutic Intervention" here.
Judge Larson balances his zeal for upholding the Constitution and protecting individual rights such as the right to life, liberty, and property, with a sincere passion toward those disadvantaged by a broken system. With over 35 years’ experience as a trial judge, trial attorney, and mediator, Judge Larson has the skills, integrity and deep regard for justice and equality for all that we need on the Washington State Supreme Court during these turbulent times.