Washington state rarely helps counties shoulder the high costs of handling aggravated-murder cases, despite a law aimed at easing the financial burden such prosecutions place on counties, reports the Yakima Herald-Republic. An analysis of reimbursement requests made under the 1999 Extraordinary Criminal Justice Costs Act revealed that the Legislature denied three out of four counties that asked for help in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Only one county has received any help in the past two years. Under the 1999 law, the Legislature acknowledged the need to reimburse counties for unforeseen costs associated with aggravated-murder cases. Counties must submit reimbursement requests to the Office of Public Defense, which reviews the requests against loose guidelines. The No. 1 consideration is the proportionate effect a case has on a county’s criminal-justice budget.