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Monday, 12 March 2012

GARY LITTLE




Gary Little

The following article has been sent by a user at TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY via Proquest, an information service of the ProQuest Company
THE GARY LITTLE CASE -- COVERING UP CASES OF JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT
[SUNDAY Edition]
Seattle Times
Seattle, Wash.
Aug 21, 1988

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pagination: A18
ISSN: 07459696
Abstract:

Judges in this state are elected by the public to serve the public. When
questions are raised about judicial conduct, they should be handled in
as public a way as possible.

Questions about King County Superior Judge Gary Little's behavior had been
raised over a period of years - by the prosecuting attorney's office, by
fellow judges, by news reporters, by individuals who said they had been
sexually exploited by Little. But few were ever resolved publicly.

Thus, the public generally either was unaware - or learned only belatedly
- of information about Little that had been placed in the commission's
hands on several occasions as early as 1981 and as late as last month.
Mostly, the information concerned Little's out-of-court contacts with juvenile
offenders.
Copyright Seattle Times Aug 21, 1988

Full Text:

Judges in this state are elected by the public to serve the public. When
questions are raised about judicial conduct, they should be handled in
as public a way as possible.

Questions about King County Superior Judge Gary Little's behavior had been
raised over a period of years - by the prosecuting attorney's office, by
fellow judges, by news reporters, by individuals who said they had been
sexually exploited by Little. But few were ever resolved publicly.

Primary responsibility for dealing with several of those questions lay
with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, created in 1980 under a
voter-approved constitutional amendment. Voters were told that the commission's
main purpose was to promote public confidence in the judicial system.

But the commission has not achieved its primary objective, mostly because
of a mania for secrecy. It has allowed its concern for protecting judges
against unfounded or frivolous complaints to overbalance the public interest.
Its effectiveness also has been constrained by an ill-advised, self-imposed
rule against investigating matters antedating the commission's establishment
eight years ago.

Thus, the public generally either was unaware - or learned only belatedly
- of information about Little that had been placed in the commission's
hands on several occasions as early as 1981 and as late as last month.
Mostly, the information concerned Little's out-of-court contacts with juvenile
offenders.

Little enjoyed a professional reputation as a brilliant attorney and an
able jurist. There was nothing conclusive in his public record to warrant
removal from the bench. But rumors continued to circulate about the matters
referred to the commission and, with the approach of a re-election campaign,
reporters from both Seattle dailies began to reinvestigate in greater depth.
Little then announced abruptly that he would not seek a third term and
would leave the state.

The investigative reporting continued, which turned up shocking reports
of sexual abuses of juvenile males as long ago as the 1960s. Only hours
before The Post-Intelligencer's articles were published, Little took his
own life.

If any lesson is to be learned from all this, it is that the process for
dealing with such issues needs to be changed to prevent the neglect of
responsibility that occurred in Little's case.

Lucy Berliner, at the Harborview Medical Center sexual-assault center,
said the failure to remove Little may have contributed to the tragedy.

"It should have been more openly addressed,'' Berliner said, "than the
way it has been. I think when he was a judge and he was in trouble and
people knew about this, that should have been enough cause for him not
to be a judge.''

Richard Holmquist, chief civil deputy in the prosecutor's office, also
put the case into clearer perspective.

"Nobody's interest was served by a system that took seven years for the
truth to come out,'' said Holmquist, who had handled the early probes of
Little's out-of-court activities. "That can't be right.''

Indeed, it was not - and is not - "right.'' The system failed the public,
and it failed Gary Little.
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