Clallam to mull renewing court pact with Sequim

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County will bill the city of Sequim $63,687 for handling its misdemeanor court cases in 2013 if commissioners renew an interlocal agreement with the city today.

The annual cost is based on a three-year rolling average of the number of Sequim cases that are processed in Clallam County District Court.

The Clallam County commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. in the commissioners’ boardroom (160) at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

The three-year renewal will buy time for Sequim to consider the formation of its own municipal court once the new police station and City Hall are built.

The Sequim City Council approved the agreement with the county last week.

“This is a good interim agreement,” Sequim City Attorney Craig Ritchie said.

Last year’s cost to the city was $66,444. The lower filing fee reflects a declining number of Sequim-generated misdemeanor and infraction cases that have come to the bench in recent years.

There were 1,928 Sequim District Court cases in 2009 compared with 1,168 in 2011.

Ritchie attributed the decline to past staffing shortages and a growing number of nonviolent offenders being sent to diversion.

From 2009 to 2011, Sequim averaged 1,555 District Court cases, or 10.65 percent of the county-wide annual average of 14,607.

County Administrator Jim Jones wrote in an executive summary that the cost-share agreement saves “significant monies over what it would cost our respective taxpayers if we had separate courts.”

Clallam County billed the city of Port Angeles $144,538 for District Court cases last year. Port Angeles cases accounted for 17.29 percent of the countywide total.

Judge Rick Porter presides over the Port Angeles-based Clallam County District Court No. 1.

John Doherty, a former District Court 1 judge, recently was appointed to preside over the Forks-based Clallam County District Court No. 2.

Doherty will serve the remaining two years on a bench vacated by recently sworn-in Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer.

Felonies that occur anywhere in the county are processed in Clallam County Superior Court.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsula
dailynews.com.

Last modified: January 21. 2013 6:37PM
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