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AGO 1955 No. 143 - October 03, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

DISTRICTS ‑- HEALTH, JOINT ‑- ATTORNEY

Director of Joint Health District may select attorney for district; neither prosecuting attorney is by law counsel for the district.

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                                                                 October 3, 1955

Honorable Hewitt A. Henry
Prosecuting Attorney
Thurston County Court House
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 143

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion on the following paraphrased question:

            When a health district is comprised of two or more counties is the prosecuting attorney of one of the counties the proper legal officer or shall the health district select its own legal representative?

            It is our opinion that the health district should select its own legal adviser.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 70.46.020 provides the authority for the creation of multi-county [[multicounty]]health districts.

            RCW 70.46.080 provides that where a health district includes more than one county the treasurer of the county having the largest population shall be the treasurer for the district and the auditor of the county with the largest population shall keep the records of the health district.  The statute is silent as to the question of legal representation.

            In the case ofIn re Phillips' Estate, 193 Wash. 194, our court has held that the legislature will not be assumed to have unintentionally omitted language  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] from a statute which on its face is definite and unambiguous.

            It is noted that RCW 70.46.070 has given to the director of the health district the power to employ "technical and other personnel" with the approval of the board.  Such authority is, in our opinion, broad enough to cover the employment of necessary legal counsel.  It must be remembered that the health district board will have two of the three county commissioners from each county concerned as members and it would appear that each county's interests will be adequately protected insofar as the selection of competent counsel is concerned.

            We hope this information will be of service to you.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

B.F. RENO, JR.
Assistant Attorney General

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