Day four after Judge Michael Hecht’s convictions, and he still hasn’t resigned from the Pierce County Superior Court. A bad omen.
You’d think there’d be some easy, quick way to pry a man off the bench after his criminal conduct has been established under the law’s strictest test: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But in Washington, getting rid of a felon-judge is more complicated than it ought to be. Pierce County officials may have to force the issue and simply cut off Hecht’s $148,000 salary – for which he’s been doing nothing – once he’s sentenced in three weeks.
One of the problems here is lack of precedent. Washington – unlike, say, New Jersey or Illinois – doesn’t have much experience with criminals on the bench. Hecht’s case is unique. It appears that the state has never before had to deal with a superior court judge who persists in office after being convicted of a felony, in this case threatening to kill a man (in addition to the misdemeanor of hiring a prostitute).
There appear to be three major options. Read more »