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.