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AGO 1951 No. 049 - May 28, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICE HOURS OF COUNTY CLERKS.

County clerks will keep their offices open on all judicial days for the same hours as were effective prior to the passage of chapter 100, Laws of 1951.

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                                                                   May 28, 1951

Honorable Robert T. Hunter
Secretary and Treasurer
Superior Court Judges Association
Court House
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                            Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 49

Dear Judge Hunter:

            I have your letter of May 15, 1951, in which you request our opinion as to whether county clerks have authority to close their offices on Saturday upon the resolution of the county commissioners allowing the same under chapter 100, Laws of 1951.

            It is our conclusion that chapter 100, Laws of 1951, does not apply to county clerks and they are not authorized to close their offices upon the basis of a resolution of the county commissioners pursuant thereto, but must keep their offices open on all judicial days.

                                                                    ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 100, Laws of 1951, amends section 36.16.100 RCW [[RCW 36.16.100]]so that it now reads as follows:

            "All county and precinct offices shall be kept open for the transaction of business during such hours as the board of county commissioners shall by resolution prescribe."

            Section 4, chapter 100, Laws of 1951, reads:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The provisions of this act shall not apply to the courts of record of this state or to their officers nor to the office of the Attorney General and the Lieutenant Governor."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It will be noted that the provisions of chapter 100, Laws of 1951, are not applicable either to courts or to their officers.  We believe that there is no substantial question that the county clerk is an officer of the court.  His powers and duties as enumerated in chapter LVII of the Laws of 1891 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 77) are concerned almost entirely with the courts.  While we are aware of no case in this jurisdiction which specifically states that a clerk is an officer of the court, the following cases from other jurisdictions are to this effect:  Matney v. King, 20 Okla. 22, 33 Pac. 737; First Trust Joint Stock Land Bank of Chicago v. Ferguson, 22 Iowa 987, 267 N.W. 103,U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Company v. State, 65 Ariz. 212, 177 P. (2d) 823.

            The duties of the clerk of the superior court are, in our opinion, so obviously concerned with the court that we see no escape from the conclusion that he is an officer of the court within the meaning of section 4, chapter 100, Laws of 1951.  Section 2, chapter LVII, Laws of 1891 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 73, 36.08.09 RCW [[RCW 36.16.090]]) provides:

            "* * * Each clerk of a superior court shall keep his office open for the transaction of business on every judicial day from eight to twelve in the forenoon, and from one to five in the afternoon."

            It is our opinion that the statute just quoted governs the office hours of the county clerks, except as modified by chapter 113, Laws of 1941 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 9963-1).

            RCW 36.16.100 does not purport to be the whole of chapter 113, Laws of 1941, but is only derived from it.  Its amendment makes a substantive change in the law only insofar as it is applicable.  In compiling the Revised Code of Washington chapter 113, Laws of 1941, was divided into two sections and in one chapter of the code is shown as 36.16.100 [[RCW 36.16.100]], and in another chapter of the code as 42.04.060 [[RCW 42.04.060]].  Thus, a change of 36.16.100 [[RCW 36.16.100]]does not amend the whole of chapter 113, Laws of 1941, but changes only that code section shown as 36.16.100 [[RCW 36.16.100]], chapter 113, Laws of 1941, but changes only that code section shown as 36.16.100, but by the provisions of section 4 nothing in the act applies to the officers of the court.  Consequently, it is our opinion that as to a county clerk who is an  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] officer of the court, the hours previously in effect continue in force.  Business days for the office of county clerk are judicial days.  Therefore, the office of the clerk is required to remain open on each judicial day for the transaction of business from nine o'clock A.M. to five o'clock P.M., except as such officers may, during the months of June, July and August, open their offices at eight o'clock A.M. and close at four o'clock P.M.  When Saturday is a judicial day such offices may be closed at one o'clock P.M.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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