Washington Law Review




Mrs. Glennie O'Connor's sole source of support for herself and five children was a $325 monthly grant from the Washington State Department of Public Assistance. Through her attorney she tendered a complaint for replevin and damages in the amount of $215.50 to the judge and clerk of the Yakima Justice Court, and filed a motion and affidavit for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The judge and his clerk refused to accept the complaint and issue notice of suit to the named defendants on the grounds that she had not paid the statutorily prescribed court fees of $3.50. Mrs. O'Connor then began an original proceeding in the Washington Supreme Court to obtain a writ of mandamus ordering the respondents to accept and file her complaint without payment of any fees. Her petition for a writ of mandamus was tendered to the clerk of the supreme court without the filing fees required by Supreme Court Rule on Appeal 10 along with her request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The court granted Mrs. O'Connor's petition to proceed in forma pauperis in the supreme court, and issued mandamus directing the Justice of the Peace to exercise his discretionary powers to determine whether justice court fees should be waived. Held: All Washington state courts have the inherent power to waive both statutorily prescribed court fees and court rules pertaining to fees where a civil action is brought by an indigent in good faith and presents an issue of probable substance. O'Connor v. Matzdorff, 76 Wash. Dec. 2d 759, 458 P.2d 154 (1969).

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