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One-year district court pact OK'd

The city will contract with Clallam County for one year

of district court services while establishing its own municipal court for 2011, the council decided at its Dec. 14 meeting.

The $84,932 contract was approved as part of the consent agenda, a list of routine items passed with a single vote.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said Sequim is talking with Port Angeles, which also signed a one-year extension, about establishing a joint court.

"We both want to investigate a municipal court of our own," he said.

"We could possibly have a joint district court with a roving staff and judge to save everyone a lot of money. The district court case load becomes manageable if the cities' cases are removed.

"We're still talking about using retired judges and the part-time district court judge in Forks. All these people are available."

Both policy and monetary considerations must be taken into account in the decision, he said.

A municipal court has been touted as eliminating the time and expense for city employees to travel to Port Angeles and also as being more convenient for Sequim residents.

In October 2008, the council voted to include $45,000 in the 2009 budget for start-up costs so a municipal court could begin Jan. 1, 2010.

But that didn't happen, which required the one-year district court contract for 2010. The 2010 budget included $93,000 for district court expenses.

Sequim has contracted with Clallam County for several years to provide court services for infractions and misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor citations.

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