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Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1972 No. 90 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton

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                                                               December 18, 1972
Honorable Phillip B. Winberry
Court Administrator
Temple of Justice
Olympia, Washington 98504
                                                                                            Cite as:  AGLO 1972 No. 90 (not official)
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your letter dated November 28, 1972, requesting our advice as follows:
            "It has come to my attention that a question exists relating to the salary level for newly appointed or elected judges of the state.  Would you please issue an opinion advising this office as paymaster for the Court of Appeals and one‑half of the Superior Court judges' salaries, whether or not such newly elected or appointed judges are entitled to the statutory amount set by the 1972 session of the legislature, or whether they should be paid at the same level as judges presently serving the courts of the state of Washington."
            As you know, we have previously advised you respecting the proper salaries to be paid to the various justices or judges of the supreme, appellate, superior and district justice courts of the state of Washington for the period commencing November 14, 1972 ‑ in the light of the order entered by the federal pay board on August 29, 1972.  See, opinion dated November 9, 1972 [[An Informal Opinion to Phillip B. Winberry, Court Administrator]], a copy of which is enclosed for your immediate reference.
            The pay board's order in this regard was based upon its determination that all of the judges of the supreme, appellate, superior and district courts of the state of Washington constituted a single employee unit for the purposes of § 201.3 of the pay board regulations.  Based upon this determination and action by the pay board, it would be our opinion that all persons occupying any of the positions as judges within this employee unit would be governed by the order ‑ and, hence,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] by the conclusions stated in our November 9, 1972, opinion, in terms of their current salaries.
            Accordingly, in direct answer to your question, it is our opinion that the newly appointed judges to whom you are referring should currently be paid at the same level as judges of their respective courts who were serving as such when the pay board's order was entered.  The key, as we understand it, is not when an individual commences serving in a position within a given employee unit, but rather, it is simply whether he occupies such a position.  If so, no distinction is to be drawn between this individual and any other persons occupying positions within the employee unit.
            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General