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.

Tag: Michael Hecht


The slow track for Hecht’s removal

Not only can we not recall Judge Michael Hecht after his felony conviction yesterday, prying him out the usual way – through an ethical complaint – looks like it would take forever.

When judges act badly, the constitutional recourse is to ask the state Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigation. If it finds misconduct serious enough, it recommends that the state Supreme Court dismiss the judge. The court does its own review and hearing, then decides.

A complaint has been filed in Hecht case. But the commission isn’t scheduled to hear it until Feb. 22, which would make it more than a year that Hecht has been collecting his salary and occupying a seat on the Pierce County Superior Court without hearing cases. Who knows how much longer the actual dismissal might take on this path.

Can’t the commission act any faster? I asked Reiko Callner, its executive director, to explain why the procedure can’t be fast-tracked:

“That is relatively fast tracked,” she said. “We’re not built for speed. Our scheduling depends on the scheduling of attorneys in the case and the scheduling of the panel members. What we have to do is corrale all those schedules together and put it at th earliest possible date.
Read more »


Hecht’s goodbye is 10 months overdue

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

We are not counting on Judge Michael Hecht’s sense of decency. But if he still possesses any vestige of one, he will resign immediately from the Pierce County Superior Court bench.

A jury found him guilty Wednesday of hiring one young prostitute, a misdemeanor, and threatening to kill another, a felony. Every hour he remains on the court is a further disgrace to the bench.

State law appears to mandate automatic dismissal of any judge convicted of a felony. The trigger point, presumably, will be his formal sentencing next month.

Were Hecht capable of shame, it would never have come to this. He would never have filed for office, knowing the personal scrutiny his election might bring. He would never have taken the oath of office almost 10 months ago, the day after this newspaper reported he’d been under criminal investigation by Tacoma police. He’d have stepped down long, long ago, rather than cling to his $148,000 salary despite being barred from the courtroom by scandal.

It’s not a matter of being innocent until proven guilty. Hecht has known all along that, until recently, he was frequenting the young male prostitutes who sell themselves on Tacoma’s Antique Row.
Read more »


One of Hecht’s worries is NOT a recall drive

My first thought upon getting word Wednesday that Judge Michael Hecht had been convicted was: recall.

We were even talking about turning our oped page into a recall petition, if Hecht didn’t step down from the bench in short order.

As it turns out, recalling a judge is not so easy. In fact, it seems to be impossible in this state. Below is an exchange (read it from bottom up) I had today with the Secretary of State’s office. “Dave” is David Ammons, the office’s media guy. Katie Blinn is the state’s assistant director of elections (knows her stuff).

The constitution exempts judges from the recall procedure, and they have a separate removal-disciplinary process. I imagine that’s to shield judges from getting jacked around by harassing recall petitions because somebody didn’t like an unpopular decision.
Read more »


Joseph Pfeiffer needed help, not Hecht

I spent a good part of Monday in the courtroom, watching the trial of Judge Michael Hecht. It was one of the sadder and more sordid moments of my career.

There’s not much doubt that Hecht had sex with Joseph Pfeiffer, a street kid born on June 8, 1988 – the criminal dispute is over whether Hecht paid him for it. On the stand today, Pfeiffer testified that, for oral sex and masturbation, Hecht would pay him “10, 20, 30, sometimes 40 dollars – I don’t know, it just depended.”

Pfeiffer said he used the money to support

Read more »