Five years later, District Court in Auburn working as intended

The City of Auburn replaced its long-standing municipal court with a King County-run District Court in 2012.

As Rob Roscoe, Auburn’s director of Human Resources and Risk Management, recently told City leaders, the new regime is working about as planned.

“We have full district court services here now, so people have access to small claims court, which we didn’t have in the past,” Roscoe said.

Small claims court meets once a month, depending on how many people file lawsuits.

“Small claims is at the very, very lower end of dollar figures,” said City Attorney Dan Heid. “In District Court, you can only sue for dollars; you can’t ask for the return of property or anything like that. And attorneys are not allowed to represent clients.”

Turning to the actual number of case filings in Auburn’s court, Roscoe said, they have been up and down over the last four years, from 13,600 case filings in 2014 to 12,400 in 2015 and 12,571 in 2016. This year to date, the numbers are trending at about 13,700, which is up about 9.6 percent.

“I think with the addition of some new law enforcement, we can expect to see the numbers gradually increase as I get staff hired, which we are working on. It’s a difficult time right now to hire,” Roscoe said.

District Court bills the City in arrears based on case filings, so the City is at present reviewing 2016’s billings. In 2014 District Court billed the City $1.4 million and in 2015 $1.5 million, figures that were offset in 2014 by $843,921 and in 2015 by $829,453 respectively in fines, tickets and fees.

Roscoe said District Court officials are weighing something new – a community court. This type of court not only transfers some quality-of-life offenses like trespassing out of the criminal court and into non-criminal court, but it also connects individual participants with social services like alcohol, rehab and mental health they may need to improve their quality of life and stay out of the criminal court.

Roscoe noted that the City of Spokane already has such a court, and all its service providers are next door. The service providers aren’t there only for the people going to the court, Roscoe said, they are also there for the general public, so they can get the services they need before they even get into the criminal system.

“It’s a really good idea,” Roscoe said. “It’s kind of a one-stop-shop approach there for those types of services.”

A community court would meet about twice a week, depending on the need.

Because community court is a service King County is considering, any contracting city could not operate it independently.

“They haven’t established it yet, so it’s still in the exploratory stage,” Roscoe said.

King County is now taking representatives of cities who are interested in community court to Spokane to see how the thing works and observe, “kind of the good, the bad and the ugly that goes with it,” Roscoe said.

Councilman John Holman suggested that with Auburn’s population expected to reach 100,000 by the end of the next decade, it will need additional court space.

“I think … we should start looking at planning for a a new police department and district court or to separate the two. Not tomorrow or the next year. … We are busting at the seams. We had best start planning for what needs to occur,” Holman said.

Roscoe said space at the justice center is always an issue.

“They want more of it, we want to give them less of it so we have more space available for police and prosecution there,” Roscoe said.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Map of all of the 2021 shots fired incidents in King County (credit to King County Crime Strategies Unit)
Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reaason why.

File Photo
Catalytic converter theft ended in shooting in Auburn

Auburn police are investigating the theft of a catalytic converter that ended… Continue reading

Mark David Glenn pleaded not guilty in January 2020 to charges of child rape and sexual misconduct involving three Todd Beamer High School students. Sound Publishing file photo
Former school nurse in Federal Way sentenced for sexual misconduct with a minor

Mark David Glenn, an Auburn resident, must register as a sex offender.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus stand in front of the Clarion Hotel in Auburn on Tuesday July 20. The hotel will be used to house approximately 100 people experiencing homelessness in the area as part of the county’s Health Through Housing program. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood.
King County purchases Auburn hotel to house homeless

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus announced the… Continue reading

infographic created by Coltura
Study suggests that the top 10 percent of gasoline-using drivers consume one-third of all the gas

Researchers believe converting “gasoline superusers” is an important factor in meeting climate goals

Source: King County Medical Examiner’s Office
Drug overdose data shows an alarming trend in recent years

King County data indicates massive increase in fentanyl deaths from 2008 to 2020.

Drop box at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton. File photo
What is ranked-choice voting and why does it matter?

King County leaders discuss implementing a new system that aims to better reflect the will of voters

File photo.
New state police reforms change policing in Auburn

The Washington Legislature recently passed several bills governing law enforcement. During the… Continue reading

An Axon body-worn police camera. COURTESY PHOTO, Axon
Council discusses body-worn cameras for Auburn police

Taser company pitches package for cameras and virtual reality training.

Most Read