The County Clerk is an elected official provided for in the Washington State Constitution. The County Clerk serves as the administrative and financial officer of Superior Court. The three branches of government are Executive, Judicial and Legislative. The clerk position is an executive branch position within county government, administering laws created by the State Legislature under the direction of the Superior Court Judge and in accordance with court rules.
As an independent elected official, the Clerk provides the public with unrestrained access to a fair, accurate, and independently established record of the opinions, decisions and judgments of the court.
Specific Functions of the County Clerk
Custodian of Court Records & Exhibits
The Clerk receives, records, and preserves forever all legal pleadings presented in Superior Court causes of action, and safeguards evidence in accordance with retention schedules established by the Secretary of State and procedures established by administrative order of the court.
Financial Officer for the Courts
As the court's agent, the Clerk collects statutory fees, fines, trust and support funds; maintains a trust account for monies received; and disburses monies as ordered by the court. Collection, accounting, and investment of court monies is done to ensure that the interests of the public and the county are secured.
The Clerk serves a limited quasi-judicial function. In this role, the Clerk reviews court documents for possible errors, performs acts required by law, sets up judgments, and issues summonses, letters testamentary, warrants of arrest, orders of sale, writs of execution, garnishment, attachment and restitution.
Ex-Officio Clerk of the Court
Under the Constitution of the State of Washington the County Clerk has the title of Clerk of the Superior Court. This requires the Clerk's presence at all court sessions for the purpose of establishing an independent record of each hearing, which is available to the public (with very few specific exceptions). The Clerk must also be present at every court hearing or trial to receive and keep a record of all exhibits (evidence) entered by the parties and to receive the jury's verdict. The Clerk may also administer oaths.
Statute and court rule create the option for the Clerk to provide a Facilitator to assist families who do not have an attorney's help in going through divorce, separation or annulment, the establishment of paternity, parenting plans, custody, child support or relocation. While the Facilitator cannot play the role of an attorney, she can explain the use of pattern legal forms provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts, help calculate child support, and provide guidance regarding processes and procedures. Learn more about the Courthouse Facilitator Program (PDF).
Collector of Legal Financial Obligations
Statute provides the option for the Clerk to assist the court in assuring that its orders are followed in regard to payment of criminal judgments. For those who cannot afford to pay their court ordered costs, fines and restitution immediately following conviction, the Clerk will set up a time payment schedule which is administered as the Pay or Appear Program. Payments are due each month, and if no payment is made in a particular month the defendant must appear in court at 8:30 a.m. on the second Friday of the following month unless this appearance is waived by the Pay or Appear Coordinator. View more information about the Pay or Appear Program (PDF).
Jury Management Officer
The Superior Court Clerk maintains the jury source list and a description of the jury selection process, mails juror qualification forms, and issues the summons for jury service in Superior Court cases. The Jefferson County District Court performs all other duties related to management of the jury panel for both District and Superior Courts and can be reached at 360-385-9131.
As the head of a county department, the Clerk has the responsibility to establish office policies and procedures, oversee the budget and maintain the established guidelines and policies of the Board of County Commissioners. Accuracy and efficiency are critical in the Clerk's office, as even a small error or omission in marking evidence, indexing or filing legal documents, or an error in disbursing funds will affect the life or property of a citizen.
What Court Staff Can Provide
- Information about the status of a specific case, unless the case is sealed (not available for public inspection because of state law, court rule or a judge's decision).
- General information on court rules, procedures, and practices.
- Court-approved forms, (pattern forms are only available for some, not all, legal proceedings) court schedules, and information on how to get matters scheduled.
What Court Staff Cannot Provide
- Court staff cannot provide legal advice. They may only provide information. If you are asking "how?," you are probably asking for legal advice. Because they are not lawyers, and because of their duty to be impartial, the law prohibits court clerks from advising you.
- Give advice about whether a case should be filed or what action should be taken.
- Advise what to say in court.
- Fill out people's forms or tell what words to put on a form.
- Speculate what decision the judge might make.