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AGO 1951 No. 180 - November 28, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

MICROFILMING COUNTY CLERK'S RECORDS

A county clerk is not relieved from the requirement of making original entries and maintaining dockets by authority to microfilm documents.

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                                                               November 28, 1951

Honorable Hugh H. Evans
Prosecuting Attorney
Spokane County
Court House
Spokane 11, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 180

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter inquiring whether the microfilming of documents may take the place of, and be used in lieu of, making entries by the county clerk pursuant to the requirements of Rem. Rev. Stat. §§ 75 and 1372.

            It is our conclusion that microfilming of documents does not serve to eliminate the requirement for original entries under Rem. Rev. Stat. §§ 75 and 1372.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 75 of Remington's Revised Statutes, which is § 2179, Code of 1881, as last amended by § 1, chapter 130, Laws of 1923, requires the county clerk to keep a docket and minute book, a journal, an execution docket and certain other records in which entries shall be made.  That statute prescribes that these documents shall be well bound books.  Section 1372 of Remington's Revised Statutes is § 2, chapter 156, Laws of 1917, part of the probate code. This section requires the county clerk to keep a journal in which shall be entered all orders, decrees and judgments and the minutes of the court; also, records of wills, letters testamentary, and bonds, which documents are required to be recorded.  This section also prescribes that a record of claims be maintained upon a page where separate ruled columns shall be set out and certain data entered in a prescribed sequence.  That statute also requires the keeping of a memorandum of the files.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Chapter 223, Laws of 1949 (§ 1257-4 Rem. Supp. 1949) in section 1 reads as follows:

            "The head of any business or the head of any state, county or municipal department, commission, bureau or board may cause any or all records required or authorized by law to be made or kept by such official, department, commission, bureau, board or business to be photographed, microphotographed, photostated or reproduced on film for all purposes of recording documents, plats, files or papers, or copying or reproducing such records.  Such film or reproducing material shall be of permanent material and the device used to reproduce such records on such film or material shall be such as to accurately reproduce and perpetuate the original records in all details, and shall be approved for the intended purpose by the State Auditor."

            Section 2 of the act permits such copies to be received in evidence as original records.  The statute, however, does not repeal any prior act relative to county clerks.  The portion of the statute above quoted permits microfilming, "for all purposes of recording documents, plats, files or papers or copying or reproducing such records."  This language all relates to the reproduction of documents in full.  The recording of an instrument means copying by reproducing the entire document.  Beatty v. Hughes (Cal.) 143 P. (2d) 110; White v. Stenis (Miss.) 118 So. 102.  This statute thus gives authority to photograph, microfilm photostat or reproduce on film all documents required by any law to be reproduced.  There is nothing in the statute to indicate that minute entries of such documents may be eliminated, that notations may be dispensed with, or even that the method of binding reproduced documents into books, when specifically required by statute, may be dispensed with.

            Chapter 223, Laws of 1949, refers to several types of reproduction.  Copies made by photographing may be bound in the same manner that copies produced by hand may be bound.  There is no necessary inconsistency between the requirement that the documents required to be recorded be kept in well bound books and the provisions of chapter 223, Laws of 1949.  Thus, the latter does not work any implied repeal of the provisions of the prior statute relative to records to be maintained by clerks of superior courts.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Under the provisions of chapter 223, Laws of 1949, photographic processes may be used wherever reproductions of documents are required.  This would include the reproduction of documents required to be recorded in books, but, in our opinion, the requirements for making original entries as provided in sections 75 and 1372 of Remington's Revised Statutes are not eliminated.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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