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AGO 1950 No. 383 - November 14, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE ‑- FEES FOR TAKING BAIL

A non-salaried justice of the peace is entitled to a fee of seventy-five cents for taking recognizance of bail in the situation where a traffic violator promises to appear and then posts bail.

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                                                               November 14, 1950

Honorable Robert E. Conner
Prosecuting Attorney, Chelan County
Fuller-Quigg Building
Wenatchee, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 383

Attention:  Mr. Jon H. Phelps, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of October 19, 1950, you requested our opinion on whether it was proper for a non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace to charge a fee of seventy-five cents for taking recognizance of bail in a situation where a traffic violator has promised to appear and later posts bail.

            Our conclusion is:

            A non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace is entitled to a fee of seventy-five cents for taking recognizance of bail in the situation where a traffic violator promises to appear and then posts bail.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, p. 394, Laws of 1919 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 1864) prescribes the fee a non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace is entitled to receive, and provides, in part:

            "For taking recognizance of bail, including justification ......................................                                     ....................................75."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The above section was interpreted in the case of Furnia v. Grays Harbor County, 158 Wash. 619, 291 Pac. 1111.  In this case, the court recognized that non-salaried justices of the peace were entitled to some small compensation for almost every act they are called upon under the law to perform.

            In the instant situation, the justice of the peace may not in the strict sense of the word "take recognizance," but he nevertheless, in our opinion, renders the services contemplated by section 1864, supra.  For one thing, he must be available to accept the bail when it is posted.  Also, he is accountable for the money he receives which, in turn, entails maintaining a bookkeeping system.  Furthermore, he issues receipts to those who post bail.  These acts or services, in our opinion, entitle the non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace to the fee provided in section 1864, supra.

            In theFurnia case, supra, the court on page 626 said:

            "A construction of the statute which would require non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace, who are compensated solely by fees paid for specific services rendered, and who are required, on demand of the proper officers, to render services for and on behalf of their respective counties and the state, to render such services gratuitously, should not be indulged in unless it clearly appears that the law admits of no other construction.  * * *"

            In our opinion, section 1864, supra, does not mean that a non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace is entitled to the particular fee in question only in certain bail situations.  We feel the statute means that in every instance, where bail is posted with a non-salaried [[nonsalaried]]justice of the peace, he is entitled to collect the fee prescribed for the services he renders in connection therewith.  It is for rendering the services discussed above that allow the justice of the peace to charge the fee, and it is not the formality of "taking recognizance" that warrants the charge.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Asistant Attorney General

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