In recent months many criminal defense attorneys have been avoiding having their cases heard by Judge Ed McKenna in the Seattle Municipal Court. The King County Department of Public Defenders (DPD) has filed affidavits of prejudice in more than 200 cases to disqualify the judge. This equates to twice the number of filings than all the other six judges in the court combined. City Attorney Pete Holmes and the Director of the DPD, Anita Khandelwal, are among the two most vocally opposed to McKenna.
Affidavits of Prejudice
Lawyers practicing in Washington State are able to file these one-page documents to request another judge. These filings against McKenna are based on the belief that he is unfair and imposes excessively harsh sentences. These filings tend to occur early on before the hearings of these criminal cases commence.
Reputation for Harsh Sentences
Many defense attorneys simply feel that their clients are placed at a disadvantage when they have penalties imposed by Judge McKenna. He has allegedly ignored sentencing recommendations that both sides believe to be just. Holmes and Khandelwal have stated that McKenna has criticized many who favor shorter sentences.
In a case involving defendant Francisco Calderon, who pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, there was a joint recommendation that he be ordered to undergo treatment. McKenna sentenced the man to 364 days in jail despite having already served 50 days in jail. The attorneys have also accused the judge of contacting the media to attend sentencing hearings. The actions were intended to show that he simply “upholds the laws” and he feels his sentencing is fair and consistent.
Commission on Judicial Conduct
Voters in Washington supported an amendment in 1980 that led to the creation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC). This entity is composed of 11 individuals that govern ethical considerations that relate to judges. The CJC's mission is described as being to ensure “a fair and reasonable process for handling complaints” that involves judges. They are empowered to investigate these matters and in rare circumstances may order that a judge be removed.
Views of Seattle's Mayor
KOMO News conducted an interview with Mayor Jenny Durkan recently where she was asked about this ongoing feud. She assumed a rather neutral stance and stated that she wants to keep focused on “making sure people are held accountable for committing crimes and offering treatment options.” She explained that the debate is evidence that these attorneys are passionate about their work. She said that both sides have engaged in a workgroup recently to create potential solutions.
King County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Attorney Steve Karimi provides tenacious legal defense on behalf of clients who face allegations of criminal activity in the greater Seattle region. He carefully analyzes the facts and evidence of each case to create a comprehensive strategy of defense. Those who are seeking aggressive defense counsel are encouraged to contact the office at (206) 621-8777 today for a consultation.