Seattle's city attorney actually wants a judge to resign because he chose to put a 55-year-old man, who had just racked up his 72nd criminal conviction, in jail.
Here's what happened
In November, Francisco Calderon, a 55-year-old homeless man, punched complete stranger Mat Xavier in the mouth. Calderon was arrested and charged with assault after the victim called 911. Calderon eventually pleaded guilty to the crime.
This was Calderon's 72nd criminal conviction. According to a report from KOMO-TV, 14 of the 72 were felonies.
The local outlet reported that despite the circumstances of the arrest, third-term City Attorney Pete Holmes recommended that Calderon get a plea deal that would have kept him out of jail by giving him two years of probation and requiring him to get a mental health check and enroll in substance abuse treatment.
"I think it's in the community's best interest to receive this kind of treatment and rehabilitation," Calderon's public defender told the judge. He added that his habitual re-offender client "clearly got the message that's he's on thin ice."
How the judge responded
Municipal Judge Ed McKenna didn't see the agreed-upon plea bargain as the best course of action for the safety of Seattle's law-abiding population, given Calderon's very lengthy criminal history and the fact that he had to literally be dragged out of his jail cell into court at one point.
"As a judge, I have a duty and responsibility to protect the citizens of Seattle and impose a sentence that I think is going to provide protection," McKenna said in court before sentencing Calderon in January. "I don't think this court is willing to risk having someone else assaulted."
McKenna then gave the defendant the maximum allowable sentence for fourth-degree assault: 364 days in prison.
As a result, Holmes wants McKenna to resign.
A letter from Holmes and Seattle Director of Public Defense Anita Khandelwal says that, by sentencing Calderon to jail despite the plea bargain, McKenna violated judicial ethics rules and should step down. The letter also calls the 364-day maximum sentence "extraordinary."
"The City Attorney and the Public Defender are adversaries in the courtroom and disagree on many matters of criminal justice policy; rarely do we stand together on issues," the letter reads. "We do so today because of our shared concern that you are disregarding your duty to act with impartiality and integrity."
In turn, McKenna responded with a letter of his own, writing that, "The citizenry of Seattle expects and demands that elected leaders work together to solve problems facing our city.
"I intend no actions and I'm not asking you for an apology," McKenna added. "I simply ask that each of you initiate an effort to publicly correct your errors."
McKenna also found support in the form of an editorial by the Seattle Times, criticizing Holmes's actions.
"This was a political hit," the newspaper's editorial board wrote. "Public confidence in Seattle's criminal-justice system is at a low point and not because McKenna is discussing problems from his vantage point, presiding over the state's busiest courtrooms."
The effects of Seattle's drug, homeless, and crime problems have become an issue of nationwide discussion and were the subject of the recent KOMO documentary, "Seattle is Dying."
Seattle is Dying www.youtube.com