Bill Introduced for Benton Co. to Get Two More Judges - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Bill Introduced for Benton Co. to Get Two More Judges

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- The Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill that could add two Benton County District Court Judges on Monday.  A similar bill was passed in the Senate three weeks ago.

The bill is the first one Representative Brad Klippert introduced into the house, and it passed 96 to 1.   Currently Benton County has three district court judges and two district court commissioners.  If this bill passes, the Benton County court commissioners' positions will be eliminated, and the two current commissioners will be appointed as judges until the next election, when they'll have to run for the position.

Klippert says this is needed because the growth of the Tri-Cities has filled court dockets.  He says his experience in law enforcement gave him an inside look into the local justice system.
He explains, "I worked as a Benton County Sheriff's deputy and I had cases that go to the district court, and you see the backlog and all the people waiting to be served in the criminal justice system."

Another reason Klippert says it's needed- last year, Congress voted to limit the power of the court commissioners, which made covering trials less flexible for the judges.

An agreement between the Senate and House bills will have to be reached, and the Governor will have to sign it before it becomes law.