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So why didn’t a better lawyer – not Hecht – run against Armijo?

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm with 6 Comments »
October 30, 2009 11:07 am

Take a couple steps back from the scandal over Judge Michael Hecht’s criminal convictions and misconduct. Behind it all is unspoken taboo among the Pierce County bar against challenging sitting judges.

The only reason Hecht got elected to the Pierce County Superior Court in the first place last fall was the vulnerability of the judge he challenged, Sergio Armijo. Many of the county’s practicing attorneys will acknowledge that Armijo was not one of the supernovas of the judicial galaxy.

There’s a slew of outstanding lawyers out there who might have run against Armijo last year, defeated him and done a better job on the bench. None of them did. Among the county’s better lawyers, challenging a sitting judge violates some Emily Post rule about legal manners. Just isn’t done. Not polite.

By default, that leaves someone like Michael Hecht to challenge a visibly weak incumbent. Surprise! Voters wind up turning out the visibly weak incumbent without knowing much about the new guy, who’s been flying under the radar screen.

(Hecht didn’t take part in our candidate endorsement process last year. We went with Armijo simply because we had the heebie jeebies about Hecht. He’d come in for an interview in 2004, when he also ran against Armijo, and we didn’t like the vibes.)

Next time there’s a vulnerable judge up for election, would some well-qualified, ethical lawyer please set aside the etiquette book and offer the voters a real alternative?

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. ldozy1234 says:

    Can we send this plea across the board here in Pierce for ALL elections? We either get politically inbred repeaters or the wild card. Would love to see some real challengers begin coming forward not from the local political gene pool.

  2. Not everyone has the backbone for the fallout.

  3. ldozy1234 says:

    Or the backbone to keep from getting sucked into the murk……………….

  4. jimkingjr says:

    Next time there is an incompetent judge on the bench would the News Tribune PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE not twice endorse him for re-election?

  5. Patrick O'Callahan says:

    Next time there’s a Sergio Armijo on the bench would someone PLEASE PLEASE give us a better alternative (two elections in a row!) than Michael Hecht?

  6. The advantage of incumbancy is so strong that it discourages many good attorneys from sacrificing their income and continuing practices for an uncertain chance to perform public service.

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