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AGO 1952 No. 231 - January 29, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

JUSTICE COURT DISTRICTS ‑- EFFECTIVE DATE OF ‑- NO POWER TO APPOINT JUSTICE NOW.

Our conclusion is that no appointment can be made now for a justice court district, although the committee may establish a district at this time.

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                                                                 January 29, 1952

Honorable James E. Duree
Prosecuting Attorney, Pacific County
P.O. Box 552
Raymond, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 231

Dear Sir:

            This is to acknowledge your letter of January 11, 1952, in which you asked:

            "Can the justice court district committee as established by chapter 156 of the Laws of 1951, establish a justice court district at this time and have the County Commissioners appoint a justice of the peace to preside in said court until the election of 1954?  This of course being applicable to Pacific County, Washington."

            Our conclusion is that no appointment can be made now for a justice court district, although the committee may establish a district at this time.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Justice court districts were authorized by chapter 156, Laws of 1951.  Section 8 of the act sets forth the persons who shall comprise a justice court district committee, and that they shall meet prior to January 1, 1954.  Section 8 further provides that such districts may be established by resolution of the board of county commissioners before July 1, 1954.  Section 10 of the act provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "There shall be one justice of the peace elected for each justice court district at the general election to be held in November, 1954, and quadrennially thereafter, and their terms of office shall be for four years from the second Monday in January following their election and until their successors are elected and qualified."

            Section 13 provides as follows:

            "Upon the second Monday of January, 1955, each justice of the peace of a precinct which is a component part of a justice court district shall deliver to the justice of the justice court district, the docket books, records, accounts, funds, and papers pertaining to his office, or relating to any suit, matter, or controversy committed to him in his official capacity, and the justice of the justice court district may thereupon proceed to hear, try, and determine such matter, suit, or controversy, or issue execution thereon, in the same manner as it would have been lawful for the justice before whom such suit or matter was commenced to have done."

            In our view, sections 8, 10, and 13 indicate that it was the legislature's intention that justice court districts are not to go into effect until January, 1955, following the November election of 1954.  Section 8, in our view, was only intended to authorize the committee to get started now in forming their districts, should they desire to establish justice court districts.

            There is no authority, either expressed or implied, in chapter 156 for appointing a justice now for a justice court district.  We feel the absence of any power to make an appointment now indicates that the justice court districts were not intended to function until 1955.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Accordingly, in our view, the committee may now form a district which may be adopted by the county commissioners, but the districts may not function as such until after the election provided for in section 10.  Consequently, no justice may be appointed now for such a justice court district.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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