Agreement reached to keep district court in Pullman

Pullman and Whitman County will collaborate to operate the court



Whitman County District Art Swannack at an auditor’s meeting on July 18. Swannack said the $450,000 agreement the city and Whitman County reached on Tuesday will benefit both parties.

SHANEL HAYNES, Evergreen reporter

Pullman City Council accepted a one-year agreement with Whitman County on Tuesday to continue performing court services in Pullman. The deal, which will cost the city $450,000, will keep district court services at Pullman City Hall through 2020.

Whitman County Commissioner Art Swannack said the $450,000 will cover district court adjudication, indigent defense and prosecution and incarceration costs.

He said the city of Pullman would normally have to operate a court themselves or contract with another entity to do the work because of the city’s code for misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.

“What we have done since the 70s is have an agreement with Pullman that we would do their work for a certain amount of money to cover our costs in doing that work,” he said.

Swannack said the deal will benefit both Pullman and Whitman counties. He said the city would not have to spend money filling in new positions such as prosecutors and deputy prosecutors, which Whitman county already has.

“Some of the money pays for the costs of these positions, but we believe it would be more expensive for Pullman to have to hire those positions outright then it is to use our people and continue to build,” he said.

Pullman’s jail system will also benefit because the city needs a place to incarcerate individuals prior to and after any type of sentencing, he said. Having a jail in Pullman could cause less stress about where to bring individuals for holding and provides a guaranteed area for placement.

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said even though Pullman is its own government, it is within a county government that benefits from having a form of collaboration between the two.

He said many of the cases that the district court in Pullman hears are not necessarily just Pullman cases. He said there are cases that originate outside of Pullman as well.

“Given the fact that there is a large population base of Whitman County in Pullman, it is convenient for many residences of Whitman County to not have to travel to Colfax,” he said.

Myers said Whitman County and Pullman share a common judicial system. He said it is not just criminal cases that are handled in district court, there are many civil cases as well.

He said it can be more efficient for Whitman County and Pullman to collaborate as a court system because of their close proximity.