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Local bar president: Restore Hecht’s Superior Court seat

Post by David Wickert on Nov. 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm with 3 Comments »
November 9, 2009 2:22 pm

The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office isn’t the only organization questioning the legality of eliminating the Superior Court seat held by Judge Michael Hecht.

In a letter to the County Council last week, David Snell, president of the Tacoma/Pierce County Bar Association wrote that it is “not clear to me that the council had the legal authority to cut this position, or that the proper procedure for doing so was followed.”

Snell expressed his “dismay and disapproval” of the council’s “hasty decision” to eliminate Hecht’s seat last week. He urged the council to reconsider.

“Eliminating this department will compound an already desperate insufficiency and backlog of criminal and especially civil cases,” Snell wrote. “This is a huge gift to insurance companies, negligent defendants and career criminals. If regular people cannot get their day in court for several years, I would classify our system as broken.”

You can read Snell’s letter here.

Council members contend Superior Court actually will see an increase in manpower this year and no loss next year.

Hecht has been on leave and hasn’t heard a case for months. The council stipulated that the rest of this year’s Hecht pay should be used to hire pro tem judges to hear cases.

And they note that next year the state will pay for a new Superior Court commissioner in Pierce County. Though not a judge, council members say the commissioner can handle arraignments currently done by judges. So even with Hecht’s seat gone, the commissioner would free up a Superior Court judge next year, council members argue.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. sleelaw72 says:

    Commissioners cannot hear personal injury cases or any other civil cases (save for family law) so civil litigants, particularly plaintiffs do not benefit at all with the council’s decision. If you are injured and the responsible party won’t pay, good luck trying to get justice in Pierce County. Instead you will get numerous continuances with no guarantee of getting out. Pierce County Citizens are getting shafted because they pay taxes to have an effective system of justice when in truth there is little if any. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

  2. GOPGirl says:

    I’m a little confused… Don’t we have a member of the Bar sitting on the council? I was under the impression CM Bunney was a bar member. So why are they being written a letter concerning legalities of the councils actions? Does the council not have 2 additional staff (that I am aware of, Susan Long and Jeff Cox) that serve as legal counsel? Why is this even an issue? I believe that this falls under the category of budgeting, not legalistics, and sorry folks, there’s just not room in the budget for the 9th.

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