This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
The criminal justice system abounds in people, procedures and places: judges, courtrooms, attorneys, indictments, trials, appeals and jail cells.
But all of it stands on something insubstantial: trust. It’s not good enough that the system is fair. It must also be perceived as fair by the public.
That’s why the Pierce County Council should tread carefully as it revises its process for filling vacancies on the bench. It should not involve parties with vested interests in how cases turn out – including the Prosecutor’s Office.
There’s been a flurry of maneuvering, on and around the council, over the appointment of a replacement for Judge Jack Nevin of the District Court. (Nevin will soon move to the Superior Court.)
The council hasn’t made such an appointment since 2003, but the process it used nine years ago is theoretically still in place. The council then relied on a list of candidates supplied by a six-member panel.
That committee consisted of two members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, one representative of the Minority Bar Association, a representative of the state court administrator, plus the County Council’s lawyer and the District Court’s presiding judge.
They proposed a handful of candidates; the council chose from the list. Read more »