The Skagit County Bar Association is circulating this important survey to its past and current members.
SURVEY REGARDING MOVING FEDERAL CVB PROCEEDINGS VENUE TO MOUNT VERNON, WA
Dear Members of the Bar in Skagit County:
Magistrate Judge Paula McCandlis has asked our court to examine whether we can move Civil Violations Bureau (CVB) proceedings from the current location at the Bellingham Municipal Court to the new Skagit County Community Justice Center in Mount Vernon. Chief Judge Ricardo S. Martinez supports exploring this request.
CVB proceedings include pleas, sentencings, and non-jury trials, on petty offense and misdemeanor violations taking place in national parks or other federal enclaves. CVB defendants are scheduled to appear on a specific day and time, and are given the opportunity to consult with prosecutors and defense counsel in the courtroom. Most violations require only one court appearance.
We moved our CVB proceedings from the old Bellingham Federal Building to the Bellingham Municipal Court in September, 2016. Judge McCandlis has been conducting court there the first Tuesday of every month starting at 5 pm. We have court security officers screen all members of the public for weapons before they enter the courtroom.
We examined the defendant address data from the last three years and we noted virtually all of the defendants who received citations were from areas much further south than Bellingham. We suggest moving the proceedings will be more convenient for the defendants and others travelling for court.
The Skagit County Community Justice Center is a new facility near I-5. It is 27 miles south of Bellingham. It has a full size courtroom near the public entrance, a screening station for security officers, and plenty of parking. There is also a separate secure entrance for judges into chambers.
In order to actually move the proceedings, the request must first be approved by the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council. Then we have to have the approval of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM). Once we have the approvals of the Council and CACM, we need to formally request approval from the Judicial Conference of the U.S (JCUS). Once JCUS approves, the Judiciary will introduce legislation in Congress to add Mount Vernon as a place of holding court in Western Washington. Once the change is made to the statute to add Mount Vernon as a place of holding court, we can work on a contract with Skagit County to use the facility for our proceedings.
One important element in considering this request is input from the bar.
We have developed an on-line survey to seek input from the local bar members in Skagit County. We welcome your input as we explore moving our proceedings to Mount Vernon. If you are a member of the Washington State Bar Association residing or practicing in Skagit County please complete the survey by clicking the link below.
District Court Executive/Clerk of Court
U.S. District Court
Western District of Washington