Governor signs legislation improving access to the justice system in Skagit County

Skagit County has the Legislature’s authorization to add a third judge to its district-court bench, under legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today. Sen. Barbara Bailey sponsored Senate Bill 5174, to allow the increase; the legislation signed is House Bill 1061, an identical measure sponsored by Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island.

“District courts have jurisdiction over both criminal and civil cases, touching every aspect of people’s lives when they engage with the justice system,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “The Board for Judicial Administration indicated that increased caseloads in Skagit County necessitated increasing the number of elected judges so that the system can work effectively. I’m very pleased that this legislation is now law.”

The new judge allowed by this legislation is contingent upon Skagit County approving and funding the position without reimbursement from the state.

“It is a quirk in our system where the state must authorize increases in district court judges,” said Bailey. “Although the onus is on the county to support that position, access to the justice system is a priority for the people of Skagit County.”