This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
The Pierce County Council’s determination to get rid of a Superior Court seat is looking less wise by the day.
Last week, after Judge Michael Hecht resigned from the court’s Department 9, the council quickly voted to dismantle the entire department. It was an emergency ordinance, adopted unanimously without hearing or opportunity for outside questioning.
A less hasty process would have turned up a serious problem: The action may be flat illegal. Presiding Judge Bryan Chushcoff has raised this possibility, as has the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association President David Snell and Doug Vanscoy, the chief civil deputy of the county prosecutor’s office.
The chief legal concern is that Department 9 was created by the Legislature, and the county government – a creature of the state government – may well have no authority to undo that legislative act. This is a Civics 201 kind of question that would occur to any good attorney specializing in local government. An issue so serious shouldn’t be arising after the fact; the County Council should have first bothered to explore the implications of what it was doing.
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