Washington Law Review


John C. Taggart


In 1975, the superior court of Lincoln County, Washington, proposed that the salary of its director of juvenile services be raised by $125 per month.' The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners rejected the increase and refused to honor the subsequent order to pay it. At the show cause hearing before the Lincoln County superior court, the trial judge held that because the superior court had authority to appoint the director, it also had the inherent power to agree with him on compensation. Consequently, R.C.W. § 13.04.040, granting to the board the power to determine the director's salary, was held to be an unconstitutional infringement on the court's power to appoint. On appeal by the board of county commissioners, the Washington Supreme Court did not agree that the statute was unconstitutional. The court, however, did agree unanimously with the general proposition that, under certain circumstances, the judiciary is empowered to set salaries of court personnel under the doctrine of inherent powers. Five of the eight members of the court who participated in the decision declared that this power should be used only when the court could show by "clear, cogent, and convincing proof" that the salary increase was reasonably necessary. Because that standard had not been met by the Lincoln County superior court, the decision was reversed.

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