Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Board of Clallam County Com'rs, No. 46025

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtBRACHTENBACH; UTTER, C. J., ROSELLINI, WRIGHT, HOROWITZ, HICKS, WILLIAMS and DOLLIVER, JJ., and HAMILTON
Citation92 Wn.2d 844,601 P.2d 943
Decision Date25 October 1979
Docket NumberNo. 46025
PartiesCLALLAM COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF'S GUILD, and Fred W. DeFrang, President, Respondents, v. BOARD OF CLALLAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, Howard V. Doherty, Jr., Richard Lotzgesell and Ronald N. Richards, Clallam County Commissioners, Appellants.

Page 844

92 Wn.2d 844
601 P.2d 943
CLALLAM COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF'S GUILD, and Fred W. DeFrang,
President, Respondents,
v.
BOARD OF CLALLAM COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, Howard V. Doherty,
Jr., Richard Lotzgesell and Ronald N. Richards,
Clallam County Commissioners, Appellants.
No. 46025.
Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
Oct. 25, 1979.

Page 845

[601 P.2d 944] Grant S. Meiner, Clallam County Pros. Atty., Craig D. Knutson, Deputy Pros. Atty., Port Angeles,

Page 846

Slade Gorton, Atty. Gen., Richard A. Heath, James K. Pharris, Asst. Attys. Gen., Olympia, for appellants.

Clinton, Fleck, Glein & Brown, Lawrence B. Linville, Seattle, for respondents.

BRACHTENBACH, Justice.

The Board of Clallam County Commissioners (Board) has a dispute with the county deputy sheriffs who are represented by a deputy sheriffs' guild (Guild). The county voters had adopted a Home Rule Charter pursuant to Const. art. 11, § 4 (amendment 21). The charter mandated adoption of a personnel system for county employees, including deputy sheriffs. The Board adopted an ordinance to establish such a system. An alleged conflict between the county ordinance and the civil service for sheriffs' office act, RCW 41.14, led to this action.

The trial court enjoined use of the county ordinance to set salaries or determine employment of deputy sheriffs. Later it ordered the parties to enter into binding arbitration. We reverse.

More facts are needed to outline the issues. To comply with the Home Rule Charter's mandate, the Board enacted ordinance No. 80, which was codified as Clallam County Code §§ 3.08.010-.060 (1977). Ordinance No. 80 generally establishes a county personnel system under the supervision of a county "personnel director." The director is responsible to the county commissioners and supervises a career service for all county employees, including deputy sheriffs. Clallam County Code § 3.08.050 outlines the director's powers, which include: preparing and administering personnel policies; establishing a roster of all county employees; developing affirmative action programs; developing a safety management program; investigating the operation of the personnel policies; preparing personnel forms; and preparing annual personnel system reports. Under Clallam County Code § 3.08.060, vacancies are filled competitively.

The Board supplemented ordinance No. 80 with resolution No. 11, which established job selection criteria and a graduated pay scale, and resolution No. 20, which classified

Page 847

county employees by job description and set 1978 salaries.

About this same time, the Guild was bargaining with the Board for 1978 employment contracts. The Board offered the Guild the salaries and job classifications listed in resolution No. 20.

Dissatisfied with this offer, the Guild filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Public Employment Relations Commission. See RCW 41.56. The record before us does not report the status or outcome of this complaint.

To express further dissatisfaction with the offer, the Guild filed this declaratory judgment action in February 1978. The Guild argued, and the trial court agreed that ordinance No. 80 conflicted with the civil service for sheriffs' office act RCW 41.14, thereby violating the Supremacy Clause of the state constitution. The trial court enjoined the Board's use of ordinance No. 80 for determining the salaries or employment of deputy sheriffs. The Board timely filed a notice of appeal from this ruling on June 26, 1978.

When the Board and the Guild resumed collective bargaining, the Board again offered only the salaries delineated in resolution No. 20. The Guild then moved the trial court on November 2, 1978, for an order of binding arbitration. It admitted that it had no statutory right to binding arbitration, but claimed to have an equitable one.

The trial court granted the Guild's motion for binding arbitration. It ruled that the Clallam County deputy sheriffs' equal protection rights were violated by RCW [601 P.2d 945] 41.56.430-.490's limitation of binding arbitration to statutorily defined "uniformed personnel", RCW 41.56.030(6), I. e., law enforcement officers employed by King County or cities with at least a 15,000 population. See Yakima County Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Board of Comm'rs for Yakima County, 92 Wash.2d 831, 601 P.2d 936 (1979). The Board timely filed a notice of appeal from this decision on December 7, 1978.

The two appeals, since they in fact arose from the same litigation, were consolidated by the Court of Appeals. We accepted direct review under RAP 4.2.

Page 848

I.

We first consider whether this action is proper under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, RCW 7.24. The Act is designed "to settle and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status and other legal relations; and is to be liberally construed and administered." RCW 7.24.120; King County v. Boeing Co., 18 Wash.App. 595, 601-02, 570 P.2d 713 (1977). However, absent issues of major public importance, a "justiciable controversy" must exist before a court's jurisdiction may be invoked under the Act. Port of Seattle v. Washington Util. & Transp. Comm'n, 92 Wash.2d 789, 806 597 P.2d 383 (1979); Diversified Indus. Dev. Corp. v. Ripley, 82 Wash.2d 811, 814-15, 514 P.2d 137 (1973). The Board and the Guild dispute whether such a controversy exists about ordinance No. 80's alleged unconstitutional conflict with RCW 41.14.

A "justiciable controversy" is

(1) . . . an actual, present and existing dispute, or the mature seeds of one, as distinguished from a possible, dormant, hypothetical, speculative, or moot disagreement, (2) between parties having genuine and opposing interests, (3) which involves interests that must be direct and substantial, rather than potential, theoretical, abstract or academic, and (4) a judicial determination of which will be final and conclusive.

Seattle School Dist. 1 v. State, 90 Wash.2d 476, 489-90, 585 P.2d 71, 80 (1978); Ronken v. Board of County Comm'rs of Snohomish County, 89 Wash.2d 304, 310, 572 P.2d 1 (1977); Diversified Indus. Dev. Corp. v. Ripley, supra, 82 Wash.2d at 815, 514 P.2d 137.

The Board says that elements (1) and (3) are missing by arguing that the dispute about ordinance No. 80's conflict with RCW 41.14 is speculative and involves only the Guild's potential interests. The Board...

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24 practice notes
  • Stevens Cnty. v. Stevens Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 37467-0-III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • November 16, 2021
    ...and is to be liberally construed and administered. RCW 7.24.120; Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Bd. of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wn.2d 844, 848, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). The Superior Court denied the State's motion to dismiss for lack of justiciable controversy, but its analysis is n......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 23, 1997
    ...125 Wash.2d 129, 133, 882 P.2d 173 (1994); Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Board Of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 849, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). Under CONST. art. 11, § 11, counties have the right to enact ordinances prohibiting the same acts prohibited by state law so long as......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 9, 1997
    ...125 Wash.2d 129, 133, 882 P.2d 173 (1994); Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Board Of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 849, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). Under CONST. art. 11, § 11, counties have the right to enact ordinances prohibiting the same acts prohibited by state law so long as......
  • PUBLIC UTILITY DIST. v. STATE, DEPT. OF ECOLOGY, No. 70372-8.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 18, 2002
    ...do not apply to the same type of rights. See Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Bd. of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 851, 601 P.2d 943 (1979); State ex rel. Bell v. Superior Court for King County, 196 Wash. 428, 433, 83 P.2d 246 (1938); State v. Hubbard, 106 Wash.App. 149, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Stevens Cnty. v. Stevens Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 37467-0-III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • November 16, 2021
    ...and is to be liberally construed and administered. RCW 7.24.120; Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Bd. of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wn.2d 844, 848, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). The Superior Court denied the State's motion to dismiss for lack of justiciable controversy, but its analysis is n......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 23, 1997
    ...125 Wash.2d 129, 133, 882 P.2d 173 (1994); Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Board Of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 849, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). Under CONST. art. 11, § 11, counties have the right to enact ordinances prohibiting the same acts prohibited by state law so long as......
  • King County v. Taxpayers of King County, No. 65062-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 9, 1997
    ...125 Wash.2d 129, 133, 882 P.2d 173 (1994); Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Board Of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 849, 601 P.2d 943 (1979). Under CONST. art. 11, § 11, counties have the right to enact ordinances prohibiting the same acts prohibited by state law so long as......
  • PUBLIC UTILITY DIST. v. STATE, DEPT. OF ECOLOGY, No. 70372-8.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 18, 2002
    ...do not apply to the same type of rights. See Clallam County Deputy Sheriff's Guild v. Bd. of Clallam County Comm'rs, 92 Wash.2d 844, 851, 601 P.2d 943 (1979); State ex rel. Bell v. Superior Court for King County, 196 Wash. 428, 433, 83 P.2d 246 (1938); State v. Hubbard, 106 Wash.App. 149, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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