I have questions about a small claims case. Who can
Our office cannot help you. Please contact the Yakima
County District Court Clerk’s Office at 574-1800 or 1-800-572-7354.
I need child support. Can you help me?
Division may be able to help.
I want a divorce. [Or, I want to sue someone. Or, I
want to adopt a child.] Can the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office help me?
No, we cannot provide legal advice or take legal action
in such matters. You should consult with your own lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you
can call CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education, Advice & Referral) at 1-888-201-1014 for a
referral to a local attorney.
Does the Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
provide copies of police reports?
Probably not. Police reports generally are not released
to persons other than the defendant’s attorney while a case is pending. After a case is
finished, any member of the public may obtain copies of some reports by filing a Public
Disclosure request with the involved law enforcement agency.
Can I talk to Mr. Hagarty? I think he's the person
who is working on my case.
Mr. Hagarty is the elected Prosecuting Attorney of
Yakima County, and his name appears on many of our official documents. Although he does
handle some matters personally, usually one of the Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys in the office
handles criminal and civil cases. When you call, give your name or the name of the defendant
to our receptionist, and we will attempt to connect you with the right person.
Where do I report for Jury Duty?
People summoned for jury duty in Yakima County should
report as directed to the Yakima County Superior Court Clerk’s office, located in Room 323
on the third floor of the Yakima County Courthouse.
Where can I find the Yakima County Code? How can I
get a copy of the Code? How can I find a of the Code?
Yakima County's printed copy of the Yakima County Code
is kept in the Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Corporate Counsel Division, Room
211, County Courthouse. The public may use the Code books in our office, and will copy your
selected portions of the code at the rate of $.10 per page. We can copy the entire code for
you; it is about 700 pages long. Supplements are also $.10 per page. We can put you on the
supplement list if you request. If you have a copy of the Code and do not subscribe to
supplements, your copy of the Code will be outdated and inaccurate after the next supplement
The Yakima Valley Regional Library has a printed copy
of the County Code. The Yakima County Law Library also has one, and is open to the public
between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon and is staffed during that time by a volunteer who can help
you find the County Code. You may also view the Yakima County Code on the Internet at
Click on Services, then Resources, then click on Yakima County Code.
Can you give me legal advice? My tax dollars pay the
attorneys' salaries; therefore, they are my public servants and should give me the legal
advice I have paid for.
Tax dollars pay the salaries of the attorneys in the
Yakima County Prosecutor's Office. Most of the attorneys handle only criminal cases. A few of
our prosecutors handle child support enforcement cases. Our Corporate Counsel Division
attorneys provide legal counsel to Yakima County's elected and appointed officials so they
perform the County's business legally and efficiently.
The tax base of Yakima County could not possibly provide
free legal services for all residents of Yakima County, nor would the legal community tolerate
such unfair competition. The attorneys who work in this government office specialize in legal
service to public officials and governments, and may not have current knowledge or expertise
necessary to represent individuals in other legal fields. If you need legal advice about a
problem that does not involve the county government, you should contact a private attorney.
We can not make attorney referrals or recommendations.
My legal problem involves the county government
because my neighbor is violating the County Code. What should I do?
Find the section of the Yakima County Code that is being
violated (see above for help in finding the Code). Peacefully contact the person causing the
problem, discuss the violation, and provide a copy of the applicable Code section. Sometimes
that will solve the problem. If not, we suggest that you write a letter to the offending
individual describing the offending behavior, citing the County Code section. Set a deadline
by which you want the behavior changed or ceased or you will seek legal assistance.
You may report building code violations to the Permit
Services division of Yakima County Public Works Department at (509) 574-2360 Fax: (509)
574-2361. The code inspector's duty is to inspect violations, impose fines and issue
citations. Yakima County has only one code inspector, so he may not be able to respond
quickly. Sometimes a citation and fine will cause the offending behavior to stop or change,
but sometimes it causes the behavior to escalate or may cause the offender to retaliate
against you. You may contact a private attorney at any time to represent you in a civil
lawsuit for damages or injunctive relief against the code violator, or to explain what your
other options are. This office cannot provide such legal advice.
How can I purchase property owned by Yakima County?
We need the parcel number to check the status of County
ownership and use. Many parcels owned by Yakima County are designated for some future use
such as gravel storage, road construction, landfill expansion and so forth. If Yakima County
wishes to sell the parcel, it may be offered for sale at a public auction as required by law
for certain types of land. Other parcels may be sold by private negotiation. Our Corporate
Counsel Division works with Yakima County Public Works and the Yakima County Treasurer to
accomplish sales of real property. There may be public hearings involved. You may call our
office to discuss your particular interests. The Yakima County Treasurer sells land acquired
by foreclosure at a public auction at least once annually, usually (but not always) in
mid-December. Call the County Treasurer for details about the next foreclosure sale The
properties that will be sold at public auction will be described in abbreviated terms in
the newspaper a few weeks before the sale. You must watch the newspaper for public notices.
We do not have the staff available to maintain lists of people who wish to be called if a
certain parcel becomes available.
Where can I get free or low cost legal advice?
Columbia Legal Services, 575-5593, and the YWCA's
Volunteer Attorney Services, 248-7796, may be of assistance. They have strict guidelines
about what types of legal problems they can help with and income levels of the individuals
they may serve. Yakima County also offers a Family Court Facilitator, 574-2695, who provides
forms and procedural information for those who choose to represent themselves in family
court (divorces, child custody, parenting plans, etc.) The Family Court Facilitator is not
an attorney and may not provide legal advice.
I reported an incident to the County Sheriff's Office
and they told me it was a civil problem that your office will take care of. Your office staff
told me the Corporate Counsel Division will not get involved in my civil complaint against
another person. Where do I go now and why am I getting the run-around?
The desk clerks in the Yakima County Sheriff's Office
understand that the sheriffs will investigate criminal activity occurring in their
jurisdiction. If the activity you complain of is not criminal in nature, the sheriff will
not investigate it, and the Sheriff's Office clerks can not advise you about non-criminal
procedures. The Sheriff's Civil Department conducts the business of the sheriff's office that
is not related to criminal investigation such as service of legal papers, issuance of gun
permits, etc., but there are no attorneys in their office.
If you have a non-criminal legal question or conflict
that needs resolving, ask yourself: Is the county government involved, or Did the county
government cause my damage? If the county government is not involved, the Corporate Counsel
Division of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office will not get involved either, and you may
wish to consult with a private attorney.
The County is responsible for damage or injury to
me, my family, or my property. How do I file a claim?
If the county government or a county employee did cause
damage to you or your property, you may file a claim against the County by obtaining a claim
form from the County Commissioners. Instructions for filing the claim are on the form and are
regulated by state statute. Filing a claim does not guarantee payment. We investigate each
claim fully and without regard to other claims filed.
I filed a claim against the County two months ago but
have not received my check yet. When will it arrive?
Filing a claim against Yakima County does not guarantee
payment. Filing a claim is similar to filing a lawsuit: the county government will first
determine whether the county government is legally liable for the claimed damages. The county
government is the fiduciary steward of the taxpayers' dollars and, as such, it does not just
pay claims upon demand. It has a duty to fully and independently investigate each and every
Several factors affect how quickly a claim can be
investigated, such as complexity of the issues, whether or not experts (such as appraisers
or architects) must be retained, whether or not the claimant provides supporting documents
(such as photographs and witness statements), and the current work load of the one attorney
and paralegal assigned to process claims against the County. After the investigation is
completed, the legal staff recommend to the County Commissioners that the claim should either
be paid or denied. The Commissioners hear the recommendations of their legal counsel every
week at a public meeting.
If the Commissioners decide to pay a claim based upon
their attorneys' recommendations, the staff in the Corporate Counsel Division will request
a check from the Auditor's Office. The Auditor's Office writes checks three times per month.
State laws allow the county 60 days in which to resolve a claim during which time no legal
action can be filed. We try very hard to complete our work on claims during that time frame,
but sometimes we just need more time.
I filed a claim against Yakima County and it was
denied. No one interviewed me or my witnesses before denying the claim so I do not believe
the investigation was done properly. How do I get the denial of the claim overturned?
The attorneys determine the best way to conduct each
investigation, and it may not involve the claimant. Sometimes there are other sources for
information besides the claimant and his or her witnesses: accident reports, independent
witnesses, project supervisors or contractors' logs, etc. Sometimes liability is so clear
that we immediately begin settlement negotiations. At other times, it is equally clear that
Yakima County could not be legally liable for the damages and the claim will be denied
without claimant contact. For example, we may be able to quickly establish that the state
government is responsible, not Yakima County, without contacting the claimant.
There is no appeal process for claims denied. If
your claim is denied, you will receive an explanatory letter and a copy of the resolution
denying your claim. If you believe your claim was wrongfully denied, you may discuss your
claim with us if you are not represented by an attorney, or you may proceed with legal
Will you enforce a parenting plan that my ex-husband
is violating since it was entered in your County Superior Court?
Enforcement of court orders is a private matter between
you and the other person and must be handled by a private attorney. Government attorneys do
not settle custodial disputes or enforce court orders between individuals. If a private
attorney helped you obtain the order, a private attorney (not a government attorney) must
help you enforce the order.
What if I have a question which is not answered
Call or visit our office. However, the Yakima County
Prosecuting Attorney's Office is not a free legal clinic or a clearinghouse of legal
information. We cannot give legal advice on private legal issues.