Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1996 NO. 2 > Feb 6 1996

In the absence of specific legislative direction to the contrary, the state and the counties are each legally responsible for one-half of the employer contributions required to be made to provide fringe benefits for superior court judges.

AGO 1975 NO. 3 > Feb 10 1975

(1) Where the salary of a superior court aide is fixed by statute, or by the county commissioners or other legislative authority pursuant thereto, a judge of the court is without power to set a higher salary by a directive or order in a nonjudicial proceeding; the court may, however, entertain an action for a writ of mandamus to require the salary fixing authority to raise the salaries of its personnel, but it will only be justified in granting the writ if, applying recognized judicial standards, it finds that the legislative authority involved has acted arbitrarily or capriciously.  (2) Under RCW 2.28.139 it is the obligation of each county (acting through its county commissioners) to furnish the courtroom and related necessary facilities for the conduct of the superior court; if the county fails to do so, the court may order the sheriff to provide the requisite facilities at county expense or, if this administrative remedy fails, the court may compel the commissioners to comply with the requirement of the statute by issuance of a writ of mandamus in a judicial proceeding ‑ subject to a right of appeal and all other procedural requisites of a regular court case.

AGO 1999 NO. 4 > May 12 1999

1. The Commission on Judicial Conduct lacks authority to divide its members into separate investigatory and adjudicative panels.   2. It is not a “temporary disability, disqualification, or inability to serve” for a member of the Commission on Judicial Conduct to have participated in the investigative phase of a complaint or case; this fact would not justify empaneling the member's alternative to serve in his/her place during the adjudicative phase of the same proceeding.   3. The Commission on Judicial Conduct may not use its alternative members to serve as “permanent” members as part of a scheme to divide the Commission into investigatory and adjudicative panels; the constitution evidences an intent that the same body exercise both functions.

AGO 1968 NO. 11 > Mar 5 1968

Under the provisions of RCW 2.24.010, as amended by chapter 87, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess., the superior court judge or judges of a multicounty judicial district may, in his or their discretion, continue to appoint a court commissioner for each county situated within the judicial district or, in the alternative, appoint a single court commissioner to serve the entire judicial district.

AGO 1984 NO. 13 > Jun 6 1984

A lawyer (including a retired former judge) who does not otherwise hold a judicial office but who has been appointed to serve as a judge pro tem of a superior court pursuant to RCW 2.08.180, as a judge pro tem of the court of appeals pursuant to RCW 2.06.150, or as a justice pro tem of the State Supreme Court pursuant to Wash. Const., Art. IV, § 2(a) is not thereby authorized to solemnize marriages under RCW 26.04.050.

AGO 1992 NO. 13 > Jun 30 1992

1.  Article 28 of the Washington Constitution (Amendment 78) provides that an independent salary commission shall set the salary for district court judges.  With regard to part-time district court judges, the commission has set the salary based on the proportion of full-time work for which the part-time judge is authorized.  The county legislative authority determines the proportion of work for which the part-time district court judge is authorized. 2.  Prior to 1991 the commission had not established a salary for part-time district court judges.  Amendment 78 provides that salaries in effect in 1987 shall remain in effect until changed by the commission.  Thus, part-time district court judge salaries were set pursuant to RCW 3.58.020 until 1991 when the commission changed the salary.  At that time, the salaries were properly set by the commission. 3.  RCW 3.46.060 provides that a nonattorney can seek election as a district court judge under certain circumstances.  A nonattorney district court judge can seek reelection if he or she is a registered voter of the district court district, and has been elected and has served as a district court judge.  A nonattorney district court judge with these two qualifications can seek reelection even if the population of the district is between 5,000 and 10,000.

AGO 1991 NO. 13 > Mar 28 1991

Chapter 3.50 RCW empowers certain cities to establish a municipal court that is not part of the state's district court system.  If a city establishes a municipal court pursuant to chapter 3.50 RCW, the salary of its municipal court judges is set by the city by ordinance.  A city may pay its municipal court judges less than full-time district judges receive when serving in a municipal department established pursuant to chapter 3.46 RCW.

AGO 1979 NO. 14 > Jun 29 1979

Where the offices of the city clerk and city attorney in a third class city have been made appointive by the city council, under the authority of RCW 35.24.020, the salary of the office holder may be increased or decreased after appointment.

AGO 1992 NO. 15 > Jul 16 1992

1.  RCW 3.46.150 provides that a city may give notice to the county legislative authority to require termination of a municipal department of the district court.  The municipal department is terminated through amendment to the county's district court districting plan.  2.  District court judge who had been serving in a municipal department of the district court remains a district court judge following termination of the municipal department until he or she vacates the position prior to the end of his or her term, or the term expires.  3.  The term of office for a judge of a municipal court established by city ordinance is four years.

AGO 1955 NO. 20 > Feb 10 1955

The one elected justice of the peace in a city of the third class must accept the appointment as police judge as part of the duties of his office.