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AGO 1953 No. 92 - July 15, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

COURTS --  SUPERIOR COURT CLERKS' FILING FEES UNDER SPECIAL STATUTES

Inasmuch as section 1, chapter 213, Laws of 1941, requires the presentation of a petition to and the entering of an order of the superior court, it is our opinion that the fee to be charged by the clerk of the superior court should be that prescribed for civil proceedings, together with such other fees as are regularly charged parties commencing civil actions.

Under the provisions of chapter 133, Laws of 1953, which provides for the entry of the decree by the superior court regarding the sale, lease or other disposition of public property, it is our opinion that the fee to be charged by the county clerk should be that prescribed for civil proceedings.

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                                                                    July 15, 1953

Honorable R. DeWitt Jones
Prosecuting Attorney Clark County
301 Court House
Vancouver, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 92

Dear Sir:

            We acknowledge receipt of your letter of June 25, 1953, requesting our opinion on the following questions relating to the filing fees chargeable by the county clerk under special statutes:

            (1) Under the provisions of chapter 213, Laws of 1941, what fee should be charged for the filing of the petition in the entry of the order in connection with legal publications?  Should this be filed, numbered and indexed with the civil cases, or should there be a separate index and file classification kept by the county clerk?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            (2) Under the provisions of chapter 133, Laws of 1953, which provides for the entry of the decree by the superior court re: sale, lease or other disposition of public property, should a fee be charged by the county clerk, and should it be indexed as a civil case or separately indexed and classified for filing?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            The fees to be charged by the county clerk of the superior court in both of the above instances should be those prescribed for civil proceedings, together with such other fees as are regularly charged parties commencing civil actions.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            We enclose a copy of a prior opinion, addressed to the prosecuting attorney of Clark County July 9, 1941, wherein we advised:

            "Inasmuch as section 1 of Chapter 213 of the Laws of 1941 requires the presentation of a petition to and the entering of an order by the Superior Court, it is our opinion that the fee to be charged should be that prescribed for civil proceedings in the first paragraph relating to fees to be charged by the Clerk of the Superior Court, together with such other fees as are regularly charged parties commencing civil actions."

            In response to your second question, concerning chapter 133, Laws of 1953, relating to the sale, transfer, exchange or lease of publicly owned property, that section provides in part:

            "* * * That such property is determined by decree of the superior court in the county where such property is located, after publication of notice of hearing is given as fixed and directed by such court, to be either necessary, or surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the state or of such municipality or any political subdivision thereof concerned, which requests authority to transfer such property."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            RCW 36.18.020 provides in part:

            "Clerks of superior courts shall collect the following fees for their official services: The plaintiff, or other party instituting any civil action or proceeding, * * * shall pay a fee of five dollars;"

            We are aware that chapter 133, Laws of 1953, contemplates an intergovernmental transaction involving publicly owned property.  However, the word "fee" has been defined to mean a charge for service.  Hudson v. Bertsch, (Ida.) 220 Pac. 109.  Our supreme court, inState ex rel. Hamilton v. Ayer, 194 Wash. 165, expressly held that the provisions of RCW 36.18.020 (RRS 491) place the state in the same position as private litigants insofar as its liability for costs and filing fees payable to the clerk of the superior court is concerned, except as otherwise provided by statute.

            At page 168 of that opinion, the court said:

            "That this was the legislative intent, is further shown by the fact that, if the legislature had intended to exonerate the state completely from liability for costs, it could have done so specifically, as was done with respect to state inheritance tax litigation.  * * * Our attention has been directed to no specific statutory exception applicable to the present case."

            Finding no specific statutory exception applicable to the statute in question and recognizing the fact that the statute requires the county clerk to perform a service, we advise that the county clerk should charge the regular fee chargeable for civil actions, and that such papers should be indexed as a civil case.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

PHYLLIS DOLVIN
Assistant Attorney General

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