Updated below with more comment from the governor’s office
The Pierce County Council has asked Gov. Chris Gregoire not to fill the Superior Court seat recently vacated by Judge Michael Hecht.
In a letter dated Monday, the council lays out its legal argument that its decision to eliminate the court seat is legal, despite arguments to the contrary by the local prosecuting attorney’s office, County Executive Pat McCarthy and the local bar association.
In the letter (you can download a PDF copy here), council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, quotes a state law authorizing Pierce County to have no more than 24 Superior Court judges. Bush argues that the law gives the council discretion to determine the exact number of positions.
“The decision to authorize a judicial position must take into account the county’s need as well as its ability to fund that position,” Bush wrote (the salaries of Superior Court judges are split between the county and the state).
“The question is whether the state legislature, in recognizing and granting the authority to local legislative bodies to authorize new judicial positions, intended that such decision would be irreversible, that it would remain in place in perpetuity,” he wrote. “We believe that was not the intent…”