Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1952 No. 235 - February 07, 1952
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

BONDS OF DEPUTIES OR EMPLOYEES OF COUNTY OFFICIALS.

County commissioners may require bonds of employees or deputy county officers and set the amount of the bond; such bonds should run to the State of Washington unless a specific statute requires that they run to the county, and such bonds should also run to the superior of such deputy or employee.  The duty of approving such bonds rests with the county commissioners who may set the conditions which should be similar to the conditions imposed upon the county officer whose deputy or employee is concerned.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 February 7, 1952

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney Lewis County
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 235

Dear Sir:

            This is to acknowledge your letter of January 25, 1952, in which you asked:

            "Kindly give me the answer to the following questions based on Chapter 260 of Laws of 1943.

            "I. Does this statute authorize every elective county official who has employees or so-called deputies to require a bond from those employees or deputies?

            "II. If the answer to No. I is yes, does anyone other than such elective official have any control over the amount that the bond should be?

            "III. In the event the answer to question No. I is yes, to whom should the bond run?

            "IV. Is it the duty of the Prosecuting Attorney to approve or disapprove such bonds?

            "V. What should the form of the bond be; in other words, what should be its conditions."

            Our conclusion is that the county commissioners may require bonds of employees or deputy county officers and set the amount of the bonds.  Such bonds should run to the State of Washington, unless a specific statute requires that they run to the county, and such bonds should also run to the superior of such deputy or employee.  The duty of approving such bonds rests with the county commissioners, who may set the conditions, which should be similar to the conditions of the bond of the county officer whose deputy or employee is concerned.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 260, Laws of 1943 (Rem. Supp. 1943, § 4200-5b) provides as follows:

            "Whenever any county officer shall require any of his deputies to give bond the premium therefor shall be paid by the county in the same manner as are other county expenses."

            This act has now been codified as a part of RCW 36.16.070.  This RCW section also embraces most of the provisions applicable to your inquiries, for it contains portions of approximately ten Remington sections dealing with deputies and bonds.  Rather than attempt to cite these many Remington sections, we feel it is more convenient and proper to refer to RCW.

            RCW 36.16.070 provides as follows:

            "In all cases where the duties of any county office are greater than can be performed by the person elected to fill it, the officer may employ deputies and other necessary employees with the consent of the board of county commissioners.  The board shall fix their compensation and shall require what deputies shall give bond and the amount of bond required from each.  The sureties on deputies' bonds must be approved by the board and the premium therefor is a county expense.  No deputy or other employee shall receive larger compensation than provided for the officer employing him.  (Emphasis supplied).

            "A deputy may perform any act which his principal is authorized to perform.  The officer appointing a deputy or other employee shall be responsible for the acts of his appointees upon his official bond and may revoke each appointment at pleasure."

            From this section it appears that the answer to your first and second inquiries is that the board of county commissioners shall determine what deputies or employees shall be bonded and the amount of the bond.

            Chapter 260, Laws of 1943, which you referred to, and which has been incorporated into the above quoted RCW section, apparently was intended only to prescribe who was to pay for the premium on deputies' bonds and was not  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] intended to provide who decided which deputies were to be bonded.

            In answer to your third question, it is our conclusion that deputies' bonds should run the same way as the employing official's.  Thus, a deputy prosecuting attorney's bond should run to the State of Washington since Rem. Rev. Stat. § 4129 (Now incorporated into RCW 36.16.050) requires the prosecuting attorney to enter into a bond to the State of Washington.  Whereas, Rem. Supp. 1943, § 4107, specifies that the county treasurer's bond shall run to the county.

            InWhatcom County v. Schuman, 12 Wn. (2d) 290, 121 P. (2d) 378, it was held in effect that Rem. Rev. Stat. § 9930, which provides:

            "'All official bonds required by law of officers shall be in form joint and several, and made payable to the state of Washington, in such penal sum and with such conditions as may be required by law.'"

            did not apply to county commissioners since Rem. Rev. Stat. § 4046 specifically provided that county commissioners shall give a bond to the county.  In light of this case, we feel that county officers' and their deputies' or employees' bonds should run to the state except where the statute dealing with the particular office expressly provides otherwise.

            Accordingly, in respect to this inquiry, we feel the deputy's or employee's bond should run in the same manner as is provided for the bond of the employing county official.  In addition, however, we believe such a bond should run to his superior, as our statutes make an officer responsible for the acts of his deputies or employees.

            In respect to your fourth inquiry, it is our conclusion that the duty of approving the bonds of deputies rests with the board of county commissioners.  RCW 36.16.070 quoted above, expressly provides that "sureties on deputies' bonds must be approved by the board."  This conclusion is also consistent with Rem. Rev. Stat. § 9934 (RCW 36.16.050 and 36.16.060).  We found no provision imposing any such duty on the prosecuting attorney.  In this connection, however, we point out that by virtue of RCW 36.27.020, paragraph 11, the prosecuting attorney is required each year to examine the bonds of all county officers and report to the county commissioners any defects in such bonds.  Since the prosecutor is  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] legal adviser of the county commissioners, the commissioners may seek his approval as to "form" as to any such bond.

            As to your last inquiry, we feel the condition of a deputy's bond should be the same as prescribed by law for the county elected officials.  The statutes in respect to deputies are silent in this respect.  However, it appears to us that since deputies have the same powers and duties as their principal, the conditions of their bond should be the same as required for the elective official.

Yours very truly,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

DON CARY SMITH
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo