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AGO 1964 No. 109 - June 24, 1964
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


The statutory venue of justice courts defined in RCW 46.52.100 has not been superseded by the rules for courts of limited jurisdiction adopted by the supreme court.

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                                                                   June 24, 1964

Honorable Will Bachofner
Chief, Washington State Patrol
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 109


Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on the following question:

            Are the provisions of RCW 46.52.100 relating to venue in the case of violations of the motor vehicle code still in effect?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.


            Prior opinions of the attorney general1/ have held that the venue provision in RCW 46.52.100 applied to all violations under the motor vehicle code.  Copies are enclosed for your convenience.

            RCW 46.52.100 continues to read, in so far as is material, as follows:

            "Venue in all justice courts shall be before one of the two nearest justices of the peace in incorporated cities and towns nearest to the point the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] violation allegedly occurred:  Provided, That in counties of class A and of the first class such cases may be tried in the county seat at the request of the defendant."

            Your opinion request, however, was prompted by the possibility that the rules for courts of limited jurisdiction, recently adopted by our state supreme court, may have superseded this statutory provision.

            We have reviewed the general, civil, criminal and traffic rules for courts of limited jurisdiction (hereinafter referred to as rules), and they contain no provisions which specifically repeal laws controlling jurisdiction or venue.

            Under the general rules, Rule J 2. provides:

            "These rules shall govern the procedure of civil, criminal, and traffic cases in all courts of limited jurisdiction inferior to the Superior Court.  They shall be construed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.  Failure to set forth herein any provisions of common law or statute, not inconsistent with these rules, shall not be construed as an implied repeal thereof."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is true that the supreme court by rule may alter procedural regulations controlling legal proceedings.  Its rules, however, do not abrogate previous statutes with which they do not conflict.  (RCW 2.04.200.)

            We are of the opinion that RCW 46.52.100 is clearly consistent with the supreme court's rules for courts of limited jurisdiction and has not been superseded thereby.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We therefore conclude that venue for motor vehicle violations remains unaltered by the recent rules adopted for the courts of limited jurisdiction.2/

             We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/AGO 55-57 No. 122 [[to Ella Wintler, State Representative on July 29, 1955]]; AGO 55-57 No. 118 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Lewis County on July 20, 1955]].

2/Lest there be any confusion, however, as to the scope of our conclusion reference should be made to the provisions of § 118, chapter 299, Laws of 1961 (cf. RCW 3.66.070), which reads:

            "All criminal actions shall be brought in the justice court district where the alleged violation occurred:  Provided, that (1) the prosecuting attorney may file felony cases in the district in which the county seat is located and (2) with the consent of the defendant criminal actions other than those arising out of violations of city ordinances may be brought in or transferred to the district in which the county seat is located."

This statute affects only those counties which are governed by the provisions of the new justice court system established by chapter 299, Laws of 1961, i.e., class AA and A counties (King, Pierce and Spokane) and the counties electing (as only Jefferson has done to date) to come under the coverage of the new system.  In all other counties, RCW 46.52.100,supra, continues to apply.

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