MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle Judge McKenna responds to allegations, will not step aside

Apr 26, 2019, 6:15 AM | Updated: 11:15 am

Judge McKenna Seattle Municipal Court...

(KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Following a letter from City Attorney Pete Holmes and Department of Public Defense Director Anita Khandelwal asking that Ed McKenna step down from his role as Seattle’s Presiding Municipal Judge, Judge McKenna has responded.

RELATED: Has Seattle Judge Ed McKenna stepped out of line?
RELATED: Spending a day in a Seattle courtroom

“I am declining your suggestion to step aside,” McKenna wrote in a letter addressed to Holmes and Khandelwal, acquired by The Seattle Times. “I was elected to this position by my peers and enjoy continued support from the bench. The court, as the judicial branch of City government, is a separate branch and independently elected and should act free of outside influence.”

In the original letter from Holmes and Khandelwal, the city’s two top legal authorities objected to McKenna’s criticisms of prosecutor sentencing recommendations. Holmes and Khandelwal also took offense at McKenna’s participation in a Downtown Seattle Association City Maker breakfast, moderated by KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. McKenna spoke about the challenges he faces as a judge at the forum.

“We are very clear that we have profound concerns about the conduct of Judge McKenna and believe that he is in violation of the canons of judicial conduct,” Khandelwal said.

They went on to accuse him of inviting the public and KOMO 4 reporter Matt Markovich to his courtroom to see him impose a sentence of 364 days in jail on one defendant, even though the prosecution and defense had already agreed on the 50 days already served.

Markovich has since dismissed the claim as “laughable,” saying that he was in the courtroom that day working on a story about Seattle’s habitual offenders, and had received a tip about the hearing from a source unrelated to the court.

“What Pete Holmes is asserting is absolutely untrue,” Markovich told The Dori Monson Show on Thursday.

Markovich’s story aired on KOMO 4 about a month later, just after a report of Seattle’s 100 prolific offenders, commissioned by neighborhood districts and the city’s tourism industry, was released. According to the study, 100 prolific offenders are responsible for 3,500 crimes committed in Seattle — and rather than being put behind bars for extended periods of time, these offenders keep getting released onto the streets.

“What’s finally happening is we’re starting to show what happens in these court cases,” Markovich said.

In McKenna’s own response, he “categorically” denies claims that he violated the canons of judicial conduct, and asks that Holmes and Khandelwal “initiate an effort to publicly correct” their allegations.

KIRO 7 TV contributed to this report

MyNorthwest News

Washington State University (WSU) President Kirk Schulz, left, and his wife Noel Schulz speak durin...

Steve Coogan

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announces plan to retire in 2025

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announced his plan Friday to retire in June 2025. He has held the position since 2016.

11 hours ago

Photo: Then-Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., speaks on Nov. 6, 2018, at a Republican party election nig...

Bill Kaczaraba

Boos, chaos at Washington GOP convention over gubernatorial candidate endorsement

The state GOP convention going on in Spokane is looking more like a demolition derby than a meeting of the minds.

12 hours ago

wsp charges protest I-5...

Heather Bosch and Kate Stone

Charges filed against protesters who shut down I-5 in Seattle

Charges have been filed against six protesters who were involved in the pro-Palestinian protest that shut down I-5 in Seattle on Jan. 6.

14 hours ago

Image: The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) closed part of Interstate 90 on Fr...

Steve Coogan

I-90 reopens after a closure due to an emergency tree removal

I-90 reopened after needing to close Friday afternoon due to an emergency tree removal, the Washington State of Transportation said Friday.

17 hours ago

The WNBA's Seattle Storm opens new facility in Interbay. (Seattle Storm X post)...

The MyNorthwest staff with wire reports

Seattle Storm unveil new Interbay practice facility, alternative uniforms

The $64 million facility in the Interbay neighborhood is an upgrade for the WNBA's Seattle Storm, which also debuted new alternate uniforms.

20 hours ago

Starbucks noise...

Bill Kaczaraba

‘What’d you say?’: Starbucks attempts to tamp down the noise

The coffee retailer, Starbucks, aims to reduce noise levels and enhance accessibility through strategic changes.

21 hours ago

Seattle Judge McKenna responds to allegations, will not step aside