Serving Franklin County, WA

Juvenile court cases move from Ritzville to Othello

RITZVILLE — For the past decade, the courthouse has been the site of all Adams County Superior Court cases, including adult and juvenile dockets.

Newly appointed Superior Court Judge Peter Palubicki is changing that.

“We will be holding once-a-month dockets in Othello,” he said. “Juvenile cases will be heard at 10 a.m.; truancy cases, at 11 a.m.; civil cases, at 1 p.m.”

Dockets will be scheduled for the first Thursday of every month in the Othello courtroom of Adams County District Court Judge Carolyn Benzel.

Why the change?

To begin, most juvenile cases in the county involve Othello youth.

“It will provide an option for Othello residents,” Palubicki said. “Those hearings are often brief. Now, folks won’t have to drive 50 miles one way to attend a docket in Ritzville.

“Since many county residents live in Othello, this option also will provide better access to justice, especially for juvenile cases. The court is less than a mile from the high school, so kids can walk there.”

He added that the juvenile department is housed in Othello, and probation officers work in the same building as the court.

According to Palubicki, it will be easier for parents to attend court, as well.

“Especially for truancy cases, they won’t have to take half a day off work to attend court in Ritzville,” he said.

Palubicki said state law allows Superior Court cases to be held outside the county seat if county commissioners agree and the Washington State Supreme Court authorizes the change. He recently received staffing support from the county clerk and the approval of all three Adams County commissioners.

They unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the change. Chief Justice Steven Gonzales of the Washington State Supreme Court gave his approval, as well.

The court’s first Othello docket is Thursday, March 7. It included one juvenile criminal case in the morning and one civil case in the afternoon.

Adams County Commissioner Mike Garza and Othello Mayor Shawn Logan attended the hearings.

Palubicki emphasized that the once-a-month court dates in Othello will not interfere with Ritzville’s court schedule. Adult criminal and civil dockets will continue in the county courthouse.

At a subsequent meeting of county commissioners, Palubicki reported that the case workload in Othello is already picking up.

“In April, the Othello docket will include three truancy cases, three juvenile cases and one civil case,” he said. “With all three categories being heard in that court, there will always be something going on there.”


Reader Comments(0)