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AGO 1950 No. 303 - July 18, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Penitentiary warden must take responsibility for transporting prisoners for court appearances.

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                                                                    July 18, 1950

Honorable Van R. Hinkle,Supervisor
Department of Public Institutions
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                     Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 303

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of February 3, 1950, in which you request the opinion of this office on the following question:

            "When an inmate of a penal institution is ordered to appear in court is it the responsibility of the institution or the sheriff of the county involved to arrange custody and transportation to court and return to the institution after the court appearance?"

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            The penal institution involved is required to arrange custody and transportation when required to produce inmates by court order.


            Section 437, page 212, Laws of 1854 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 1067) provides as follows:

            "The writ shall be directed to the officer or party having the person under restraint, commanding him to have such person before the court or judge at such time and place as the court or judge shall direct to do and receive what shall be ordered concerning him, and have them and there the writ."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "If he had had the party in his custody, or under his restraint, and has transferred him to another, he shall state to whom, the time, place and cause of the transfer.  He shall produce the party at the hearing, unless prevented by sickness or infirmity, which must be shown in the return."

            The above quoted sections clearly indicate that a writ of habeas corpus is directed to the person having the petitioner under restraint and that it is the duty of such person to produce the petitioner in court.

            In the case of inmates of the state penitentiary, a writ of habeas corpus or order to produce is directed to the superintendent.  It is his duty to comply with the writ or order.

            As we are unable to find any other statutory or other authority on this point, we must conclude that the responsibility and expense fall upon the institution whose duty it is to provide the service.  Provision may properly be made in the penitentiary budget to cover necessary expenses in connection with required attendance of inmates in court.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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