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AGO 1958 No. 183 - April 23, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE AUDITOR ‑- GARNISHMENTS ‑- WARRANTS ‑- WARRANT PAYABLE TO JUDGMENT CREDITOR IN GARNISHMENT PURSUANT TO ORDER OF COURT.

The auditor is required, under RCW 7.32.060, 7.32.070 to issue a warrant to the order of the judgment creditor in garnishment when directed by the superior court to do so.

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                                                                   April 23, 1958

Honorable John G. McCutcheon
Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County Court House
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 183

Attention:  Mr. Keith D. McGoffin, Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir :

            You have requested our opinion as to whether or not the state auditor has authority, under RCW 42.24.030 and RCW 7.32.070, to comply with the garnishment orders of the superior court, by issuing warrants payable to the judgment creditor in garnishment.

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 42.24.030 requires all persons furnishing materials or rendering services to execute a certificate that the materials or services have been furnished or rendered and that the debt is just, due and unpaid.  This law was enacted in 1891, and required the certificate to be a part of the voucher for services.  The voucher, as to employees, was executed on the payroll.  Your question arises because, by amendment of 1957, the statute requires all legislators, officers and employees to execute the certificate as a part of their endorsement on the warrant that is issued for services.

            In 1933, the legislature enacted a statute providing that the state should be subject to garnishment in the superior court.  RCW 7.32.060, 7.32.070.  This  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] provided in part (RCW 7.32.070):

            "No regular judgment in garnishment shall be entered against the state of Washington or any municipal corporation, but the judge of the superior court, or justice of the peace shall by written order command the auditing officer, or body of such state of Washington or municipal corporation to audit andpay to the judgment creditor the amount due from the garnishee to the principal defendant, not exceeding the amount of the judgment in the main action, whereupon the same shall be paid by the garnishee: . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Since the auditor is required to pay to the judgment creditor the amount due to the employee (not exceeding the amount of the judgment) the prior requirement in the Laws of 1891 requiring the employee to execute a certificate on his voucher was, to that extent, modified.  The garnishment statute is plain, that the auditor is to pay in accordance with the order of the court.  If failure of the judgment debtor to sign a certificate were to preclude payment, then absence, death, or refusal to sign would defeat the purpose of the statute.  In so far as they relate to expenditure of state funds, the certificate and garnishment statutes are inpari materia and must be read together so as to give effect to each.

            The amendment of 1957, i.e., the new RCW 42.24.030, merely changed the manner in which the certificate was to be presented.  Where the check, pursuant to order of the court, is made payable to the judgment creditor, it must be endorsed by the judgment creditor and the statute does not apply.  Where the amount due the employee exceeds the judgment, the balance will, of course, be paid by separate warrant drawn to the order of the employee.

            We are aware of RCW 43.09.090, enacted in 1915, and amended in 1957, which makes it unlawful for the auditor to issue any warrant except upon vouchers for services rendered or materials furnished, duly certified and authenticated.  This, like the certificate statute, must be read in pari materia with the garnishment statute.  The subsequent enactment of RCW 7.32.070 in 1933 must be deemed to have authorized the issuance of a warrant pursuant to the order of the superior court.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

HAYDN H. HILLING
Assistant Attorney General

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