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August 17, 1970
Honorable E. R. Whitmore, Jr.
Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney
P.O. Box 596
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 111
We acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 5, 1970, raising a question as to the amount of salary payable to the court reporter for the judicial district comprising Chelan County.
As you have correctly pointed out, the salaries of court reporters are governed by RCW 2.32.210 which provides, in material part, as follows:
"Each official reporter shall be paid compensation as follows:
"(1) In judicial districts comprised of class AA counties, such salary as shall be fixed by the judges of said counties and approved by the board of county commissioners of said class AA counties;
"(2) In judicial districts comprised of class A counties, six thousand dollars per annum;
"(3) In judicial districts comprised of first class counties, five thousand seven hundred seventy-five dollars per annum;
"(4) In judicial districts having a total population of seventy thousand and under one hundred twenty-five thousand, five thousand two hundred and twenty-five dollars per annum; in judicial districts having a total population of forty thousand and under seventy thousand, five thousand one hundred dollars per annum; in judicial districts having a total population of twenty-five thousand and under forty thousand, four thousand eight hundred dollars per annum.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]] "Said compensation shall be paid out of the current expense fund of the county where court is held.
". . .
"The salaries of official court reporters shall be paid upon sworn statements, when certified as correct by the judge presiding, as state and county officers are paid."
Your letter pertaining to this matter reads, in material part, as follows:
"Where the preliminary report of the 1970 U. S. Census shows that the population of Chelan County dropped from more than 40,000 population to less than 40,000, what is the effect on the salary of the court reporter in light of RCW 2.32.210 (Chapter 95, Laws of 1969)?
"I would presume that this means that her salary drops from $10,500 per annum to $6,600 per annum effective April, 1970. . . ."
If the salaries of court reporters were expressly keyed to the "last preceding federal census", as are the salaries of county elected officials under RCW 36.17.020, your presumption would necessarily be correct.1/ However, as indicated in our opinion dated October 30, 1964, to the Administrator of the Courts, copy enclosed, federal census data is not the only evidence of population which can be considered in determining the population of a judicial district for the purpose of ascertaining the salary properly payable to its court reporter.
Accordingly, reading the above quoted provisions of RCW 2.32.210 with this point in mind, and noting again the concluding paragraph which provides that:
"The salaries of official court reporters [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] shall be paid upon sworn statements, when certified as correct by the judge presiding, as state and county officers are paid."
it would seem plausible to us for you to take the following position in advising on this matter: So long as the presiding judge of the judicial district is satisfied ‑ during this present period of preliminary census figures only and prior to certification of the official census data for the district in question ‑ that the population of his district is 40,000 or more, and is willing to certify the payment of a salary to the court reporter of the judicial district based upon this population determination, the amount thus certified by the judge as being the correct salary of the court reporter might properly be paid.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistant [[assistance]]to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/Accord, State ex rel. Jordan v. Dehart, 15 Wn.2d 551, 131 P.2d 156 (1942).