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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 18, 2004
Don Krupp, Chief Administrative Officer, 360-786-5440
Elizabeth Petrich, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, 360-786-5540

State Supreme Court Decision on County Courthouse Location

OLYMPIA -- - The State Supreme Court has issued a decision regarding a Thurston County case involving the location of superior courts, County Clerk and Prosecutor's office.  State law requires that these functions shall be located "at the county seat."  A jail, unlike superior courts, may be located anywhere within the county.  In 2002 the county, along with Olympia and Tumwater sought a judicial clarification on whether the regional justice center, as originally proposed, could be located at a Tumwater site, six blocks outside of Olympia.  The county seat is Olympia.  The supreme court ruled that,  "At the county seat means 'at Olympia' not some other city 'near Olympia'…This conclusion is consistent with the purpose behind the enactment of the statutes requiring that certain offices and facilities of county government be located 'at the county seat.'"

This decision doesn't affect the current proposal planned for the Mottman location.  It was scaled back shortly after the trial courts decision to include only district and municipal court functions, along with the jail.   The decision does affect the extent to which the county can locate superior court, the county clerk and the county prosecutors office at that location in the future.

Deputy Thurston County Prosecutor Elizabeth Petrich says the ruling was not unexpected.  "This really helps to clarify that "at" literally means within the current corporate boundaries of the city of Olympia for those functions of county government that are required to be at the county seat." 

County Administrator Don Krupp says he appreciates Olympia and Tumwater's willingness to explore this question before the state's highest court.  "This gives us some certainty for future planning for any expansion of county government offices.  It is essential that we conduct the business of the people in the correct manner and this ruling helps us do that."

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3