Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Hecht sentence slammed

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Nov. 20, 2009 at 9:51 am |
November 20, 2009 11:17 am

We received this letter today from Joseph J. Hesketh III, the father of one of the young men who testified against former Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht. It’s too long to run as a letter to the editor (we have a 250-word limit), so he agreed to let us post it here.

Justice served?

What has happened to justice in Pierce County? Hundreds of citizens in this county have been arrested and booked for offenses as minor as shoplifting, jay-walking and spitting on the wrong part of the street. Many of these citizens have spent a considerable amount of time in Jail awaiting administrative hearing (arraignment) to determine what official charges will be levied against them.

Then we have the former Superior Court Judge Michael A. Hecht. At his sentencing hearing he was sentenced to 30 days, converted to 240 hours of community service. Is this justice? Not in my opinion.

Mr. Hecht complained to the presiding judge that he has extensive health problems. How is that different from the scores of citizens who also have health problems and end up in jail, many times without these health issues being addressed due to day of the week, staffing or a number of other reasons?

There are citizens who have served months in jail without ever being convicted of things like DUI, yet Mr. Hecht will not serve any time as a convicted felon!

Mr. Hecht complained that he has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation (and that) he and his family have suffered severe embarrassment in the public eye. The witnesses have also suffered severe public embarrassment. The young men who testified may have made a lot of bad decisions in life and must live with their decisions and face the consequences of their decisions.

The fact that Mr. Hecht was not booked upon his initial arraignment coupled with the fact that he has not expressed any remorse for his actions, yet is only sentenced to 240 hours of community service, does not equal justice.

If justice in Pierce County were truly blind, then Mr. Hecht would have been administered a minimum mandatory 30-day jail sentence with no room for negotiations. It is perceived that he has not had jail time included because he was in the judiciary system and not just a citizen of the community.

How can the judicial system restore faith in the system with this type of sentencing? It cannot. It is time that we are all treated that same. Justice should be equal for all individuals, not just those in higher levels of society.

Joseph J. Hesketh III

The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for Report violators to