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Seattle's city attorney calls on former federal attorney to help clear criminal division's case backlog

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison has turned over top leadership in her department, calling it "new energy."

SEATTLE — It is one thing to talk the talk of a campaign, and another to walk the walk as an elected official. 

On Wednesday, new Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison got an earful in a face-to-face visit with residents of the Chinatown International District. 

Then on Thursday, she announced she was bringing in former U.S. Attorney Brian Moran to help her criminal division clear a backlog of more than 4,000 cases, boost hiring and advise on near-term criminal priorities. 

Davison has officially been in office for just days. She is the first woman to ever hold the office. She has vowed to "make sure that our laws are meaningful." 

Nora Chan is banking on it. The longtime resident of the International District told Davison that her neighbors, friends and business owners are sick of the graffiti, garbage, and crime that has littered her home. 

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"If I come to eat here, I've lost my appetite," said Chan as she showed Davison an alley where the trash has piled up. Next door, a business owner has replaced his windows. "He's really scared, so he put the woodblocks in the windows."

Chan, who was flanked by other community elders, believes public safety leaders have neglected the diverse, culturally rich neighborhood. 

"We need to make sure we're providing the public safety piece," acknowledged Davison while sipping tea at the Tai Tung Chop Suey restaurant on King Street. 

She's already turned over top leadership in her department, calling it "new energy," but also saying it will take time to chart a new course. 

She fully admits that up in the street, in Little Saigon, an open-air drug market is a problem and should be a focus of a "public safety partnership." But Davison also said her department is dealing with a 4,000-case backlog.  

"My top priorities right now is going to be how do we focus on that now, cause right now, it would be insurmountable to look at that because cases are going to the back of the line with my predecessor," she said. 

Davison said she'll outline a couple additional policy statements in the coming weeks.  

Chan said, after the walkabout, she's ready for some steps in a different direction and believes her community needs it because right now, "that's not being fair, because these people can't complain."

Meanwhile, Davison described Moran as "one of the most distinguished prosecutors in Washington state history." 

“I am committed to making the City Attorney’s Office one of the premier municipal law departments in the country. This project is an opportunity to work with one of the most experienced leaders in the criminal justice field to create timely justice for victims, fair outcomes for defendants, and improved public safety for our city," Davison said in a statement. 

Moran served 15 years in the state's Attorney General's office. 

“I share her vision for a criminal justice system that is not only fair and just, but one that is also responsive to the needs of Seattle’s residents," he said in a Thursday statement. 

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