KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Gee & Ursula: Should judges be elected or appointed?

Mar 7, 2024, 11:58 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm

court gavel...

Gee & Ursula take on the question: Should judges be elected or appointed? (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

It’s an age-old question: Should judges be elected or appointed? Gee & Ursula took on the topic after The Seattle Times reported the Seattle City Attorney’s Office doesn’t want any future criminal cases to be heard by first-term Municipal Court Judge Pooja Vaddadi.

The office detailed mounting concerns about Vaddadi’s conduct and rulings from the bench that have prevented the city from receiving fair hearings and trials, according to a memo sent to assistant city attorneys last week obtained by the The Seattle Times.

“So now essentially, this judge is not going to be able to handle arraignments, pretrial hearings or trials for new cases,” Ursula Reutin explained. “Even though the courts are already stretched. So these cases are going to have to be assigned to other judges and fillings.”

City Attorney doesn’t have confidence in Vadaddi

Vaddadi is a former public defender who was elected to the bench after defeating the incumbents in Nov. 2022. The problem is the City Attorney’s Office claimed that she has routinely overruled other judges’ findings of probable cause to arrest a suspect or do a search and she has also repeatedly failed to find probable cause in cases where it clearly exists.

“In other words, they think she is incompetent and doesn’t understand the law,” Ursula said. “It looks like The Seattle Times tried to reach out to this particular judge, but I don’t think that she is responding to comments for requests.”

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Therefore, Gee and Ursula said the Vaddadi case begs the question: Should judges be elected or appointed? In the Vaddadi case, she beat the incumbent.

“Now I just ask anyone filling out ballots, ‘Do you even know anything about the judges you’re being asked to vote on?'” Ursula said.

How much information do we have about judges?

Gee said many times he voted based on a rating from the King County Bar Association.

“You’ve got to realize that is just one source,” Gee said. “But again, in the case of a judge like this, I would say this makes a great case for having judges appointed.”

Ursula said she felt judges should initially be appointed by an independent commission.

“But then I think they should be voted on so people can just say, ‘Hey, are you doing a good job or not?'” Ursula said. “I think that would be the best compromise.”

Video: Gee & Ursula discuss the rules of the skies for airline passengers

Although Gee said he does his due diligence by reading up on the judge in the pamphlet.

“But I don’t know this judge from anywhere. And I make my decision on this pamphlet,” Gee said. “That’s very little info.”

Gee explained that he’s clear on the topic. He wants judges to be appointed.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: Should judges be elected or appointed?