Michael Hecht

TACOMA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-The newest judge on Pierce County Superior Court in Washington won't be hearing criminal cases any time soon, an official said.

The (Tacoma, Wash.) News Tribune reported Tuesday that Judge Michael Hecht, who was sworn in Monday, faces allegations that he patronized a male prostitute several years ago and recently threatened to kill him.

The newspaper said state Attorney General Rob McKenna's office is reviewing an investigation by local authorities.

Hecht,58, who is married, has denied any wrongdoing, his attorney, Wayne Fricke, said. The allegations were raised before the election by supporters of outgoing Judge Sergio Armijo.

In an e-mail to the county's other judges, Prosecutor Gerald Horne explained his position.

"I told them that we weren't going to set any criminal matters in front of Judge Hecht at this time," Horne was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "Although I regret feeling compelled to take this action, I felt it to be necessary and in the best interests of the public we serve."

Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff said there has been no decision regarding Hecht's judicial assignments, the newspaper reported.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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