James Konat has been with the King County prosecutor’s office since 1989. He has successfully prosecuted several high profile cases, according to the Seattle Times. But his career ended abruptly when he chose to make some highly questionable comments to witnesses in a murder case.
Konat has been on leave, using up vacation time, since last summer. His resignation went into effect just a few weeks ago on February 3. The city says that his exit from the office was voluntary and he was not fired.
The statements made by Konat were racially charged and ethically questionable, to say the least. In prosecuting suspected murdered Kevin L. Monday, Jr., Konat treated black witnesses to an interesting line of questioning.
He asked them about a street code among black people, something that he said was well-known by rarely talked about. When questioning them, he referred to law enforcement as the “PO-leese,” using a racially mocking tone. During his closing arguments in the case he said “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police.”
Monday was convicted of first degree murder and assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison. But, the state Supreme Court reversed his conviction on account of Konat’s behavior and granted Monday a new trial.
According to the Supreme Court ruling, Konat’s behavior caused the jury to question the reliability of black witnesses based on nothing more than their race. One justice called Konat’s comments “repugnant” when ordering the new trial.
Konat is said to have many “successes” while working as a King County prosecutor, gaining convictions in several high profile cases including that of South Part killer Isaiah Kalebu and several other killers. But his aggressive practices in court may have eventually cost him his job.
Monday is now preparing to go back to trial for charges that he fired ten shots, killing Francisco Roche Green. He is also accused of firing into a vehicle and wounding both the driver and the passenger.
Konat is preparing for his own case, defending himself in front of the state bar. Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler filed a bar complaint after the case came to light last summer.
Defendants, no matter how well-publicized or gruesome their crime, deserve the right to a fair trial. In this case, Monday’s jury was tainted by racist comments by the prosecutor, which were eventually grounds for a new trial.
Whatever charges you are facing, you want to know that you’ll be treated fairly at trial and throughout the criminal justice process. If you are accused of a crime and in need of assistance, contact our attorneys for a free defense consultation.