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AGLO 1971 No. 69 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton

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                                                                    May 5, 1971
Honorable Brian M. Baker
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County
P. O. Box 918
Chehalis, Washington 98532                                                   Cite as:  AGLO 1971 No. 69 (not official)
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your letter dated May 3, 1971, requesting our opinion on the following two questions regarding deputy county coroners:
            "1. In view of RCW 36.24.160, is the coroner in a third class county permitted to have a deputy, and if so, by what authority?
            "2. If the answer to the above question is affirmative, what are the qualifications for such a deputy, specifically, does the funeral home affiliation prohibition of RCW 36.24.175 apply to the deputy position?"
            Question (1):
            RCW 36.24.160, to which you have referred in your first question, reads as follows:
            "If the office of coroner is vacant, or he is absent or unable to attend, the duties of his office may be performed by any justice of the peace in the county with the like authority and subject to the same obligations and penalties as the coroner.  For such service a justice of the peace shall be entitled to the same fees, payable in the same manner."
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            However, this statute by no means negates the authority of a county coroner to appoint a deputy pursuant to the express authority granted by RCW 36.16.070, as follows:
            "In all cases where the duties of any county office are greater than can be performed by the person elected to fill it, the officer may employ deputies and other necessary employees with the consent of the board of county commissioners.  The board shall fix their compensation and shall require what deputies shall give bond and the amount of bond required from each.  The sureties on deputies' bonds must be approved by the board and the premium therefor is a county expense:  Provided, That this paragraph shall not apply to those employees of the county superintendents holding a certificate from the state board of education or state board of vocational education.
            "A deputy may perform any act which his principal is authorized to perform.  The officer appointing a deputy or other employee shall be responsible for the acts of his appointees upon his official bond and may revoke each appointment at pleasure."
            Accord, opinion dated June 23, 1952, to the prosecuting attorney of Franklin county, copy enclosed.
            Question (2):
            RCW 36.24.175, referred to in your second question, provides as follows:
            "In class AA, class A, first, second and third class counties no person shall be qualified for the office of county coroner as provided for in RCW 36.16.030 who is an owner or employee of any funeral home or mortuary."
            Your question is whether this statute is applicable to persons serving as deputy county coroners in those classes of counties to which the statute applies.  We have previously considered and answered this question in the negative, in an opinion dated April 15, 1970, to state senator Al Henry, copy enclosed.
             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General