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Supreme Court candidates spar over editorial withdrawing support for Sanders
Posted by Cathy McLain
From Times staff reporter Steve Miletich
Bainbridge Island attorney Charlie Wiggins seized Wednesday night on a Seattle Times editorial withdrawing its endorsement of state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders over Sanders' recent assertion that African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
Wiggins, who is seeking to unseat Sanders in Tuesday's general election, read from this week's editorial at the Maple Leaf Community Council's candidate forum in Seattle.
Sanders, in a brief response, said if "telling the truth" can't win him the endorsement of The Times, then "so be it."
Sanders' campaign has issued an e-mail to supporters calling a Seattle Times news story last week on Sanders' remarks an "outrageous October surprise."
Referring to Sanders' comments, the e-mail says, it's "a simple truth and everyone, African American or white, knows that it is true. But it is politically incorrect to say so."
Supporters are asked in the e-mail to contribute money so Sanders' campaign can "fight back as quickly as we can."
During an Oct. 7 court meeting on fair treatment in the courts, Sanders, who is seeking a fourth term, and Justice James Johnson, who was re-elected in the August primary, disputed the view that racial discrimination plays a significant role in the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison.
Johnson also used the term "poverty pimp," an apparent reference to people who purportedly exploit the poor in the legal system, say those who attended that meeting.
African-Americans represent about 4 percent of Washington's population but nearly 20 percent of the state prison population. Similar disparities nationwide have been attributed by some researchers to sentencing practices, inadequate legal representation, drug-enforcement policies and criminal-enforcement procedures that unfairly affect African-Americans.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this item.
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