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AGLO 1971 No. 003 - January 07, 1971
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                  January 7, 1971
 
 
 
Honorable Hubert F. Donohue
State Senator, 11th District
Route 2, Box 13
Dayton, Washington 99362
                                                                                              Cite as:  AGLO 1971 No. 3 (not official)
 
 
Dear Sir:
 
            We acknowledge receipt of your recent letter requesting our opinion as to the ability of the incumbent justice of the peace for Columbia county to continue in office after having attained the age of 75, in view of the provisions of § 1, chapter 6, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            The 1969 enactment to which you have referred reads as follows:
 
            "A justice court judge shall retire from judicial office at the end of the calendar year in which he has attained the age of seventy-five years.  This provision shall not affect the term to which any such judge shall have been elected or appointed prior to the effective date of this act."
 
            It is our understanding that Columbia county is not presently operating under the provisions of the 1961 justice court act ‑ chapter 299, Laws of 1961.  Accordingly, the term of office of a justice of the peace in that county continues to be governed by RCW 3.04.080, which reads as follows:
 
            "Every justice of the peace shall hold office for a term of four years and until his successor is elected and qualified."
 
            In view of this provision, together with the second sentence of § 1, chapter 6, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., supra, it would be our opinion that your incumbent justice of the peace, whose most recent term of office commenced prior to the effective date of the 1969 enactment, may remain in  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] office until his successor is elected and qualified without regard to his age.  The second sentence of § 1, chapter 6, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., expressly states that the provisions of the act, requiring the retirement of a justice court judge at the end of the calendar year in which he has attained the age of seventy-five years ". . . shall not affect the term to which any such judge shall have been elected or appointed prior to the effective date of this act."
 
            Under the provisions of RCW 3.04.080, supra, the term of office which the justice of the peace in question was serving when § 1, chapter 6, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., became effective (i.e., on August 11, 1969, ninety days after the end of the 1969 special session), had a duration of four years ". . . and until his successor is elected and qualified."  Therefore, because of the failure of a successor to have been elected and qualified for the position in question at the 1970 election (as described in more detail in your letter) the term of office which the incumbent justice of the peace was serving at the time the aforesaid 1969 enactment became effective, is still continuing ‑ thus the applicability to the situation of the second sentence of the 1969 act.
 
            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
 
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General
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