Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

County court dispute may be headed for a homer referee

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Dec. 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm with 2 Comments »
December 4, 2009 6:34 pm

I’ve been a little fuzzy on the Pierce County Council’s theory on how it could legally eliminate a superior court seat – Department 9 – created by an act of the Legislature. The council is pleading with Gov. Chris Gregoire not to appoint anyone to the supposedly nonexistent seat, and it laid out its arguments a few days ago.

Various legal authorities, including the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, say county officials can’t pull asunder what the Legislature has joined together. Department 9 was created in 1969, long before lawmakers in 1985 allowed counties to share in the decision to create court seats. There’s even a good argument that counties can’t kill seats created after 1985.

The county has now clarified its theory. In its plea to the governor, the council argues that this business of pre- and post-1985 is all nonsense. “To carry that argument out to its logical extension would be to say that a protected class of judges was created simply by the name and number given by the county to the department.”

I.e., the court seats are sort of one aggregated mass – one’s no different from the other, and they all exist at the pleasure of the council.

Another issue in this dispute is legislative (county council) encroachment on judicial (superior court) turf. Which points to perhaps the ultimate weakness in the country’s position: If the argument winds up in court, it’s going to be judges – not county council members – who decide whether county council members can do away with judges’ seats at their legislative discretion.

Gee, I wonder how that ruling’s going to come down.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. jiminycricket says:

    This new council has committed one blunder after another and has proven themselves not only clueless, but useless. With the likes of this past weeks tragedy, this council is attempting to usurp the authority of our legislature and illegally eliminate a superior court judicial position. Yeah, sure, makes a lot of sense. What a bunch of Einsteins! Maybe they can plead innocent by reason of insanity when this goes to trial. I obviously see diminshed capacity with this group of scholars. PS-Shawn, get over your defeat. PSS-Barbara, your birthday cake is beginning to sag with all of those candles with each passing year. Ever think about retirement?

  2. fetch3535 says:

    As is to be expected when there is a Republitaliban majority in office, whatever their controllers demand is rammed through, reality or the law bedamned.
    Haven’t the county voters yet realized that to be elected (especially as a Republitaliban) you have to be a mindless, robotic drone… elected through pandering, fear, and innuendo; not necessarily ability.
    The public’s needs will ALWAYS be trumped by the party’s needs.
    Back off boys, cry to your god Rush (that fat addict), you’ll lose this one.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0