City and County Court Services
County and city governments are exploring options to avoid duplication of services and to maximize efficiency and economy for providing court services to their citizens. This page is intended to provide information related to local government court services, including interlocal contracting models. A few special court service programs are also highlighted. Some of the interlocal contracts provided as examples may not be the most current contract. Others appear to be older contracts, but have automatic renewal clauses. Our desire is to have the most current examples available. MRSC would appreciate receiving updated contracts when available from all jurisdicitions. If you have information to add to this page, please contact the page editor.
About Court Services
Each county, city, and town is responsible for the prosecution, adjudication, sentencing, and incarceration of misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses committed by adults in their respective jurisdictions, and referred from their respective law enforcement agencies, whether filed under state law or city ordinance, and must carry out these responsibilities through the use of their own courts, staff, and facilities, or by entering into contracts or interlocal agreements under this chapter to provide these services. (RCW 39.34.180)
The courts administered by local governments include the county superior court (See description in New Commissioners Handbook) and the courts of limited jurisdiction: district courts; municipal departments in district courts (existing prior to July 1,1978) and municipal courts. (See description in Citizens Guide to Courts.)
For more information about courts:
Court Related Statutes
Interlocal Agreements for Court Services
Cities Contracting with Counties
- Clallam County
- Sequim and Clallam County Interlocal Agreement () establishing district court filing fees for 2012, dated 02/28/2012
- Grant County
- Grand Coulee and Grant County Interlocal Agreement () to provide Grand Coulee with jail and district court services, including probation, prosecution, and public defense; term is 01/1998-12/2008 - Funding is through the city's share of county-wide sales and use tax for criminal justice.
- Interlocal Agreement () between Grand Coulee and Grant County for the provision of court services within the municipal department of the district court; term 01/01/2004-12/31/2009 - Continues in force for subsequent years until terminated (Current as of 03/2012)
- King County - The cities that contract for District Court services are: Beaux Arts, Bellevue, Burien, Carnation, Covington, Duvall, Kenmore, Redmond, Sammamish, Shoreline, Skykomish and Woodinville
- Kittitas County
- Ellensburg and Kittitas County Interlocal Agreement () for municipal department in district court, dated 11/2003 - Provides automatic 1-year renewals
- Kittitas and Kittitas County Interlocal Agreement () for court services; effective 01/01/2009 - Continues until terminated
- Othello and Adams County Interlocal Agreement () for provision of prosecution, adjudication, indigent defense, sentencing, and incarceration services for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses, effective 01/01/2004 - Provides for annual review; contract continues until terminated
- Stevens County
- Interlocal Agreement () between Stevens County and Kettle Falls for all services for processing, trial, adjudication and sentencing, of criminal cases and infractions arising in the city's jurisdiction; term 01/01/2012-12/31/2012
- Walla Walla and Walla Walla County District Court Interlocal Agreement() for municipal court services; term is 2007-2015
Cities Contracting with Other Cities
- RCW 3.50.815 - Provides that a city may meet the requirements of RCW 39.34.180 by entering into an interlocal agreement with the county in which the city is located or with one or more cities
- In City of Medina v. Primm, 160 Wn.2d 430 (2007) - The Washington Supreme Court upheld the use of interlocal agreements to share municipal court facilities, and it determined that cities had the authority to enter into intercity agreements for the provision of court services outside the geographical limits of the contracting cities. In 2008 the statutes were amended to incorporate this decision.
- The following cities are providing municipal court services for other cities: Auburn (Algona); Battle Ground (Ridgefield, La Center); Buckley (Carbonado); Enumclaw (Maple Valley); Kirkland (Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Medina, Hunts Point); Marysville (Lake Stevens, Arlington); Mercer Island (Newcastle); Napavine (Vader); Nooksack (Everson); Pateros (Brewster); Sunnyside (Mabton); Tenino (Rainier); and Wilkeson (South Prairie).
Contract Examples of Cities Contracting with Other Cities for Court Services
- Des Moines and Normandy Park Interlocal Agreement () - Des Moines provides municipal court services to Normandy Park; term 01/01/2009 to 12/31/2013.
- Issaquah and Snoqualmie Interlocal Agreement () - Issaquah provides court services to Snoqualmie; term ends 12/31/2009 may be renewed an additional two years.
- Kirkland Interlocal Agreement () - Kirkland provides municipal court services to Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Medina, and Hunts Point; beginning 01/2000 for a term of 10 years; automatic renewal for 5 year periods.
- Mercer Island and Newcastle Interlocal Agreement () - Mercer Island provides court services to Newcastle; initial termination 12/31/2005, with annual renewals.
- Puyallup and Milton Interlocal Agreement () - Puyallup provides municipal court services to Milton; term to 01/01/2013 to 12/31/2017; automatic renewal.
Municipal Court Studies
Older court studies may be viewed in the MRSC Index under the heading Municipal Courts. These include Auburn (1996), Ellensburg (1996), Port Angeles (1996, 2000), Redmond (1999), and Yakima (1996)
Public/Indigent Defense Services and Standards
On June 15, 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court adopted new Standards for Indigent Defense. Most notably, the new standards limit the number of cases public defenders should handle each year. The standards also address guidelines for administrative costs, limitations on private practice, qualifications of attorneys, appellate representation, and the use of legal interns.
The caseload limits, part of Standard 3.4, were to take effect on September 1, 2013, while the rest of the standards take effect on October 1, 2012. However, the state supreme court has now delayed the implementation of caseload limits until January 1, 2015, to provide time for the Washington State Office of Public Defense to conduct a "statewide attorney time study" and to develop a model misdemeanor case weighting policy that is consistent with the indigent defense standards adopted by the court. Washington State Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1016 (), 04/08/2013. Under the caseload limits in Standard 3.4, full-time public defenders should not have caseloads exceeding 300 or 400 misdemeanor cases per year, depending on whether the jurisdiction has developed a "numerical case weighting" system, described in Standard 3.6.
- RCW 10.101.030 - Standards
- Supreme Court Adopts Standards for Indigent Defense; Case Limit Guidelines Effective in 2013, Washington Courts: News and Information, 06/15/2012
- New Standards for Indigent Defense ()
- WSR 12-17-055 - Order of Washington State Supreme Court delaying the effective date of the new standards until October 1, 2012, except Standard 3.4, which will become effective September 1, 2013
- Washington State Supreme Court Order No. 25700-A-1016 (), 04/08/2013, ordering a statewide attorney time study and a model misdemeanor case-weighting policy, and delaying the implementation of caseload limits in Standard 3.4 until January 1, 2015
- Form Ordinance/Resolution Adopting Standards (), by W. Scott Snyder, Ogden Murphy Wallace
- Wilbur v. Mount Vernon, Memorandum of Decision, No. C11-1100RSL (W.D. WA 12/04/2013) - The federal district court found that the public defense systems provided by cities of Mount Vernon and Burlington violated indigent defendants' Sixth Amendment rights of effective assistance of counsel. The court issued a "continuing injunction” against the cities that, among other things, required the cities to hire a “Public Defense Supervisor” to supervise and evaluate the cities’ provision of public defense services and to ensure that indigent clients are provided certain specific services and receive adequate representation.
RFPs for Indigent Defense/Public Defender Services
Contracts for Indigent Defense
- Courts and Community Collaboration, National Center for State Courts
- Court-Community Initiatives Resource Guide, National Center for State Courts
- Specialized Courts, Issues and Options, National League of Cities, January/February 2000 (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
- Courts, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice
- Current Trends in Problem-Solving Courts Resource Guide, National Center for State Courts
- Washington Specialized Courts
- Directory of Problem Solving Courts in Washington State, Washington Administrative Office of the Courts
- Clark County District Court Specialized Courts - The court has developed five specialized problem-solving courts that utilize therapeutic jurisprudence, preventive law, and restorative justice to assure the safety of victims and hold the offender accountable
- Seattle Municipal Court Community Court - A community involved justice initiative that provides a nontraditional approach to address traditional problems
Mental Health Courts
- Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery (), The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, 2012 - The report is written for policymakers, system administrators, and front-line service providers committed to improving outcomes for men and women with behavioral health disorders that cycle through the criminal justice system. The framework introduced in the report can be used at the corrections and behavioral health systems level to prioritize scarce resources based on objective assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment and support needs.
- Mental Health Courts Program, Bureau of Justice Assistance, in coordination with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Mental Health Courts Resource Guide, National Center for State Courts
- Justice, Treatment, and Cost: An Evaluation of the Fiscal Impact of Allegheny County Mental Health Court, by M. Susan Ridgely, John Engberg, Michael D. Greenberg, Susan Turner, Christine DeMartini, Jacob W. Dembosky, Rand Technical Report, Safety and Justice Program, 2007 - Sponsored by the Council of State Governments
- Rethinking the Revolving Door: A Look at Mental Illness in the Courts (), by Derek Denckla and Greg Berman, Center for Court Innovations, 2001
- Washington Mental Health Courts
Court Administration Service Examples
Adjudication by Mail/Internet
Other Court Services
See also Alternatives to Incarceration on MRSC page, Jail Services and Alternatives to Incarceration