Monroe wants own municipal court

MONROE — City leaders want to establish a municipal court in Monroe by 2015.

Monroe contracts with the county district courts system to process misdemeanors, citations and traffic infractions, Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said. Felony cases are handled in Snohomish County Superior Court in downtown Everett.

In 2011, Monroe had to hire a pro tempore judge to process the extra infractions from the traffic-enforcement cameras that went live that year.

City staff got used to handling tickets, Willis said.

“We were kind of forced into the position of running it ourselves,” she said. “It has become a pretty efficient system.”

The city has no complaints about the services from the county, and the partnership has been productive, Willis said.

Still, city staff believe a municipal court would save them time and money, she said. With some infractions, the city pays court filing fees that cost more than potential revenue from fines.

People in town also would get more direct access to court services, Willis said. People already call and visit the Monroe police station with questions about court cases.

“We get calls all day long concerning court issues,” she said.

Larger cities in Snohomish County maintain municipal courts, such as Everett, Marysville and Lynnwood.

None do east of Everett along the U.S. 2 corridor, though.

Monroe currently budgets about $170,000 a year for court costs with Evergreen District Court along 179th Avenue SE. That doesn’t include the judge who handles traffic-camera tickets.

Evergreen District Court serves a huge part of Snohomish County east of Everett.

Monroe’s cases make up a relatively small percentage of the court’s overall workload and budget, presiding Judge Patricia Lyon said.

Evergreen District Court wouldn’t see a significant impact if Monroe established a municipal court, she said.

“We have enjoyed providing court services for the city of Monroe, and we look forward to continuing to have a good working relationship with them,” she said.

For a municipal court, the city would have to hire a court administrator and a part-time judge, Willis said. Support staffing would be drawn from existing city personnel.

The City Council agreed to move forward with the plan in January.

The court would operate out of council chambers at City Hall, according to the proposal by Police Chief Tim Quenzer. Set-up costs are estimated at $11,100. Estimated annual costs to run the court, including staffing, are $166,518.

The two-year wait covers the existing agreement with the county courts and some technicalities based on judicial election cycles. In general, civil cases still would go to county courts.

The movement toward a municipal court won’t change, regardless of what happens with traffic-enforcement cameras, Willis said.

Mayor Robert Zimmerman has said the city has no plans to renew its traffic-camera contract when it expires later this year.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

There’s plenty to cheer in overdue capital budget

In Snohomish County, there’s money for a number of projects.

Parking a constant problem at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

Front Porch

EVENTS Autoharpist in Everett Folksinger, storyteller and autoharp virtuoso Adam Miller returns… Continue reading

Most Read