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STEVEN TUCKER PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

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STEVEN TUCKER PROSECUTING ATTORNEY Powered By Docstoc
					STEVEN J. TUCKER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
                                          2003 in Spokane County
                                     was another very successful
                                     year for the Prosecutor’s Office.
                                     This year, we implemented the
                                     Felony Diversion Program. This
                                     is a pre-charging diversion
                                     program designed to allow non-
                                     violent   first  offenders     an
                                     opportunity to make the victim
                                     whole and avoid a felony
                                     conviction. This program eases
                                     both the jail overcrowding
                                     problem as well as heavy
                                     caseload pressures.    We also
                                     implemented our Prosecutor in
Every School program. Each of our deputy prosecutors is assigned
to one or two of our local schools. They are available to the
administration and students for advice and presentations. In the first
full year of our Check Enforcement Program, we recovered $ 55,104
for our local merchants. In 2003, we again hit an all-time high of
filing over 4,000 felony cases, twice as many as 10 years ago.
       I’m honored to represent the people of Spokane County and to
be able to work with such a fine, hard-working, dedicated group of
people in this office. Thanks to all whose work is reflected in this
annual report.

                                      Sincerely,



                                      Steve Tucker




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SPOKANE COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY'S OFFICE 2003

Staffing Level by Division        Attorneys       Support Staff       Total
Administration incl                    4                 6             10
Recep/Discovery
Civil Division                         7                 4             11
Felony Division                       35                17             52
Juvenile Division                      6                 2              8
Misdemeanor Division & DV              9                13             22
Misd
Appeals Unit                           2                 1              3
Family Law Unit                       11                21             32
Victim/Witness                                          5.5            5.5
Totals                                74               69.5           143.5

The above table includes regular employees and does not include Legal Interns
and extra help positions.
                       CRIMINAL DIVISION - FELONIES

Major Crimes
       The major crimes unit prosecutes murder, felony assault, kidnapping, robbery,

harassment and arson crimes. The unit is comprised of six attorneys, one paralegal,

and one secretary.     The unit works closely with many different law enforcement

agencies including the federal government and the City of Spokane. Notwithstanding

the numerous guilty pleas, the unit had 44 jury trials in the calendar year 2003. With

regard to the 44 jury trials, the unit obtained 82 convictions out of 87 criminal charges.

In addition, the unit had 454 referrals resulting in 1236 charges, with a net result of 299

disposed cases. Disposed major crimes cases in 2003 resulted in prison sentences

resulting in 8140 months with an additional 1236 months of deadly weapon

enhancements.

Special Assault
       In the year 2003, the Special Assault Unit was comprised of three and one half

deputy prosecuting attorneys, a paralegal, a secretary and a child victim advocate. We

also had the assistance of three victim advocates from the Victim Witness Unit, in our

adult cases.   The unit prosecuted felony sex crimes, including sex crimes involving

domestic violence, crimes against children, child pornography, failures to register as

sexual offenders and crimes against vulnerable adults.

       Continuing a long tradition in the unit of addressing special issues through

specialization, one of the deputies specialized this year in the prosecution of charges of

drug related child endangerment, under RCW 9A.42.100.         This deputy works closely

with city and county law enforcement agencies to enforce this new statute. One deputy

continues to specialize and train in the prosecution of child pornography and sexual


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exploitation of children. The part time deputy continues to specialize in the prosecution

of failures to registers as a sexual offender and crimes against vulnerable adults.

       The Unit also represents the office on the Spokane Sex Offender Management

Team, the Spokane County Child Death Review committee, the Multidisciplinary Team

on child abuse and neglect issues and the Critique Group at Partners with Families and

Children and the Adult Victims of Sexual Assault Committee (AVSAC) which addressed

the issues related to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults committed

against adult victims. The group continues to take a multidisciplinary approach to these

cases and includes law enforcement, advocates, hospital personnel, Jim Hansen, a HITS

investigator with the Washington State Attorney General’ s Office and the Director of

the Spokane office of the Washington State Crime Lab. It has also been instrumental in

working with the Washington State Crime Lab to facilitate the testing of DNA in sexual

assault cases and in training allied professionals in evidence handling.

Gangs
       In the year 2003, the gang unit dealt with numerous homicide, rapes and

robberies by gang members. The homicide cases tended to create their own caseload

because of the type of witnesses involved (gang members). Many individuals involved

were arrested on unrelated crimes and are serving substantial prison terms due to the

hard work of law enforcement, the federal government and our unit. Again, last year

we saw an increase in gang related drive-by shootings and violence that went unsolved.

Many of the cases that were resolved involving guns went to the Major Crimes Gun

Deputy. Even with that, the gang unit filed over 270 cases during the course of the

year 2003. The Gang Unit closed over 220 files by trial or plea in 2003. Many of them

were violent offenses with the majority being murder, attempted murders, robbery,


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rapes, violent assaults and drug delivery cases. ”Meth” busts involving gang members

have increased substantially. Again this year numerous gang members were prosecuted

federally on gun and drug charges. This helped facilitate pleas in state court and ease

increasing caseloads. Many gang related crimes remain unsolved due to an increase in

witness intimidation. Sadly, 2003 saw another increase in youth related gang activities.

As 2003 closed and 2004 started, the Gang Unit saw a sharp increase in their case load

and had to start sending cases out to other units including major crimes, property and

drugs.

Domestic Violence
         In 2003, domestic violence continued to be one our Community’s and Office’s

greatest challenges.    While the overall number of reported incidents was slightly

decreased, the severity of those incidents increased slightly. In 2003, the felony cases

reviewed and approved for filing numbered 460 with another 238 felony cases (228

were declined outright and 10 were referred for filing in District Court) reviewed and

declined for prosecution for a total of 698 felony case referrals.

         The infrastructure for the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Team (hereafter

“SRDVT”) was created in 1996. The SRDVT opened its doors in January 1997 with

staff members from the seven participating agencies in the Monroe Court Building in

Spokane. The participating agencies contribute personnel and resources to the SRDVT

in addition to the grant monies received from the United States Department of Justice

through the Violence Against Women Act. One of the most significant events of 2003

was the commitment of the Spokane County Board of Commissioners and the Spokane

City Mayor & Council to continue the funding of the SRDVT through general funding,

which was established in 2000-01.         The continued County & City funding is a


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declaration that the Spokane community recognizes the existence of domestic violence

in our community and the need to be deal with its issues to improve the lives of all.

       For 2003, the participating agencies provided seven attorneys, two APR 9

Interns, three detectives, one deputy five criminal victim advocates, one civil advocate,

five support staff, as well as additional part-time personnel to make up the SRDVT.

Members of the SRDVT investigated and prosecuted criminal charges ranging from

misdemeanor malicious mischief through attempted first-degree murder.

THE OVERALL RESULTS:

       In 2003, the SRDVT received 2,857 total referrals from law enforcement in

comparison to 2,671 received in 2002. In 2003, 698 of the referrals were of a felony

nature as compared to 683 in 2002, ranging from assault in violation of no contact

orders through robbery and attempted murder.

       In 2003, the SRDVT signed up 460 felony cases charging 650 felonies and 176

misdemeanor charges as compared with 2002 in which the SRDVT signed up 513 felony

cases charging 761 felonies and 152 misdemeanors.

       In 2003, the SRDVT received 2,239 misdemeanor referrals as compared to 2,069

received in 2002. In 2003, the SRDVT filed 2,162 new cases charging 2,807 crimes as

compared to 1,914 new cases filed in 2002 resulting in 2,783 charges.

       In 2003, the SRDVT/PT closed 368 felony cases representing 1,420 felony

charges as compared to 2002 in which 480 cases were closed representing 1,910

felonies.   In 2003, the SRDVT closed 2,580 misdemeanor cases representing 4,654

misdemeanor charges as compared to 2002 in which 2,107 misdemeanor cases

representing 4,435 charges were closed.




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Property/Fraud
       There were 1,454 referrals received by the Property-Fraud Unit in 2003, and

1,062 felony cases were filed.     The unit is staffed with eight Deputy Prosecuting

Attorneys, who closed 1,000 cases in 2003 (a total of 5,085 crimes charged), and took

35 cases to trial.

       The unit worked closely with law enforcement through Crime Analysis, task

forces and targeted crime units, as well as working from our own internal multiple

referral defendant lists. Through these efforts, our backlog of property crime referrals

has decreased.

       This unit works closely with the felony drug unit. Ten secretaries and a paralegal

support the two units. Property-Fraud is also assisted by the Victim-Witness Unit with

a part time advocate and a part time secretary.

       The unit prosecuted 72 gun cases (theft of firearm, unlawful possession,

possession of unlawful firearm, first degree burglary/armed).

       The unit began a diversion program for class C felonies during the year, which

promises to be very successful. There were 54 felony diversion cases filed between

Sept. 11 and Dec. 31, 2003.

Drug/Traffic/Probation
       In 2003, the Drug Unit consisted of thirteen attorneys. This Unit is responsible

for the prosecution of all felony drug cases, felony escape and bail jumping charges,

felony traffic offenses, probation violations, and all drug court cases. A meth lab task

force was formed. Two attorneys out of this Unit were assigned to deal exclusively

with meth lab cases, and 414 cases were filed. Other Units are handling cases involving

methamphetamine as well.      Methamphetamine continues to dramatically impact our

community.

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       The Drug/Traffic Unit received 1,585 referrals that resulted in 1,308 cases being

filed. Many of the drug cases consist of multiple counts and include property crimes.

The deputies maintain pending caseloads of approximately 75 cases at any given time.

The Unit disposed of 1,122 cases in 2003. The felony traffic unit received 106 felony

traffic referrals and filed on 88 of those. These cases included 21 Vehicular Assault

cases and 15 felony Hit and Run cases.

       One attorney in the Drug Unit is assigned to Drug Court. Offenders have to meet

specific screening criteria in order to qualify for entry into the program and are

required to sign an agreement stipulating to the facts of the case.            Successful

completion of the program results in the dismissal of the charges. Offenders who do

not complete or fail the program are prosecuted based on the stipulated facts. In 2003,

160 defendants were screened and found eligible for the program; 83 of those chose to

enter the program, and 21 successfully completed the program and graduated.

       The Drug Unit also has an attorney and a paralegal assigned to handle a majority

of the probation violations.    They handled 125 probation hearings, 901 probation

modifications orders were entered, and 835 terminations or discharges were entered,

totaling 2,740 files for the year. Legal financial obligations in the amount of $60,575.00

were collected.

Juvenile
I.   OFFENDER STATUS:

A. REFERRALS: The referrals for 2003 are 5157. This is up from 2002 referrals

of 5131, resulting in a difference of 26 more referrals or an increase of 1/2%. This

year’s referrals are 1611 referrals less than 1996’s referrals of 6768. The result is a

24% decrease of referrals over the last 8 years


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B. CASES FILED: The cases filed for 2003 are 1577. This is up from 2002 cases filed

of 1516, resulting in a difference of 61 more cases filed or an increase of 4%.

C. TRIALS: The trials for 2003 are 55. This is down from 2002 of 59 trials, resulting in

a difference of 4 less trials or a decrease of 7 %. These calculate not only offender

matters but also include 13 truancy trials. One of the reasons for the decrease in trials

this year can be attributed to an increase in felony dispositions of 9%.

D. CASE BACKLOG: The case backlog average is currently at 145.             The decrease

averaged 36 cases per month over last year. One of the reasons for the decrease in the

case backlog is that more cases were handled in VOMP and more diversion rejection

cases were filed on this year.

In addition, a decrease of 20 diversion cases was referred to diversion this year. As a

result, there were fewer cases that potentially may have been part of the backlog.

E.   SEX CASES: There were 44 sex cases referred in 2003: 5 went to Sexually

Aggressive Youth Program (SAY); 1 was an automatic decline; 5 had insufficient facts; 2

were not filed and 31 were filed. Of the 31 filed sex cases: 22 were guilty pleas; 1 trial

conviction; 2 not guilty trials and 6 pending resolution.      Of the 23 guilty pleas or

conviction: 12 went to SSODA; 5 went to JRA; 2 received local sanctions and 4 waiting

for disposition.

II. RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: The late great Jim Gillespie informed, educated and

convinced the agencies within the Juvenile Justice System regarding the benefits of

restorative justice.   Restorative Justice actively involves victims, offenders and the

community in a cooperative resolution to conflict:

A. VICTIM OFFENDER MEDIATION PROGRAM (VOMP): The VOMP program is very

simple: the victim and offender agree to meet with a trained mediator in the hope of

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mediating a settlement.      If the parties agree to a settlement, sign a contract and

complete the conditions of the contract, no legal action will be taken on the charge. As

a result, the victim is made whole, the offender is held accountable and the community

is strengthened by this resolution. Inland Mediation Center is the agency, which trains,

assigns and monitors mediators for the VOMP program. Our office has benefited from

VOMP by assigning pre-adjudicated cases. This year, we have referred 207 cases to

them. This is an increase of 77% over last year.    Of the cases returned to our office,

62% of the cases either completed condition of the contract or resolved the conflict

prior to the meeting. Furthermore, Juvenile Court is starting to use Victim Offender

Mediation as a condition in the disposition order

III. TRUANCY:       This year, the prosecutor’s office decided to represent the school

districts in Spokane County in an effort to better effectuate the principles of students

attending school under the Becca Bill. As a result, school representatives only need to

appear in court when a case is contested. And the school districts are very pleased

with our service.

A.    FACT FINDING: This is an order for students, who have at least 5 unexcused

absences within a month or 10 unexcused absences within the school year, to compel

them to attend school, every day, every period on time. In 2003, 1465 truancy petitions

were filed. This is an increase of 372 truancy petitions or 25% over last year. The

increase may have been due to streamlining the system to make it easier for the school

to file and the school districts receive payment for every petition filed. There were 597

truancy orders filed this year, resulting in an increase of 246 truancy orders or 59%

over last year. The reason for the increase in truancy petitions filed and in the truancy

orders is due to the fact that we changed the filing system beginning with the 2001-

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2002 school year, the school districts, in most cases, were now required to filed a

“stay” truancy petition in which the school, parent and student would explore

intervention solutions to resolve the truancy problems. However, the school districts

can bypass the “stay” petition and filed a “court” petition. Finally, a total of 8 truancy

trials were heard.

B. CONTEMPT: This is an order for students who have violated the truancy order to

compel attendance. The sanctions against these students include detention time, fines,

community service and/or other conditions.       Furthermore, the parents of the student

may be fined up to $25 for each unexcused absence.         In 2003, 331 contempt actions

were filed. This is an increase of 19 contempt actions or 6% over last year.         There

were 216 contempt orders entered, resulting in a decrease of 187 contempt orders or

46% over the last year. The reason for the decline in contempt filings and orders is

that in the beginning of the school year 2011-2001, we changed the length of time in

which the court has jurisdiction over the truant from the student turning 18 years old to

October 31st of the next school year.     This is because funding is based only on the

amount of truancy petitions. So, cases in which jurisdiction only lasts until October 31st

of the next school year create fewer opportunities for contempt actions because those

cases are refilled as truancy petitions. Finally, a total of 5 contempt trials were heard.

OTHER RELATED PROGRAMS:

A.   JUVENILE DRUG COURT: The concept of this program is to provide a “holistic

approach” to treating juveniles for alcohol/drug and other related problems. After many

meetings and conferences, Spokane County has decided to pattern Drug Court criteria

after the Chemical dependency disposition alternative. Although the treatment plan may

be different, the court procedure will be similar to Adult Drug Court. In 2003, there

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were an additional 29 from the original 30 candidates who entered Drug Court last year.

From this group 9 successfully completed and 9 were revoked from the program.

B.    MINORS IN PREVENTION:          This is a scared-straight program for first-time

offenders of minor in possession, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This

program has been expanded to include pre-disposition as well as pre-filing cases.

C. PRESENTATIONS:

1.    On December 4, 2003, Bob Jalovi presented at the Spokane Police and School

District 81 Liaison Committee meeting at the Spokane School District 81 Administration

Building in Spokane, Washington.    My presentation was entitled: Truancy Process and

our partnership with the School District and Police.

2.    In conjunction with the Prosecutor in Every School Program, Lynn Mounsey gave

3 presentations re: Juvenile Law on February 18, 2003, May 2 & 23, 2003 respectively

at Cataldo Catholic School.

3.    In the spring of 2003, Lynn Mounsey gave a presentation on Criminal Justice at

Eastern Washington University.

4.    On April 8, 2003, Lynn Mounsey gave a presentation on Juvenile Crimes,

Process, Restitution and Landlord Q&A at the Independent Insurance Agents’ Luncheon.

5.    On July 30, 2003, Lynn Mounsey gave a presentation on Juvenile Crimes, Justice

Process and Restitution Goals at the Building Owners and Manager’s Association

Luncheon.

                   CRIMINAL DIVISION-MISDEMEANORS

District Court
      In 2003 the seven-member district court unit handled 11,934 new misdemeanor

referrals, an 18% increase over 2002. [2,675 DWI cases (an 18% increase over the

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2,258 DWI cases in 2001); 5,547 other criminal traffic cases (a 29% increase over last

year), and 3,712 criminal non-traffic cases.]       Trial dockets burgeoned with Driving

While Under the Influence cases in our three-judge district court. A large percentage

of the cases tried were subject to direct appellate review.

       The District Court attorneys also handled the probation violation dockets, the

mental health misdemeanor procedures under Title 71, as well as the DUI first

appearance dockets. The additional workload concomitant with these procedures was

accomplished without additional personnel.        Indeed, due to budget cuts, we lost one

attorney that was previously assigned to the infraction dockets.

       Felony and misdemeanor first appearances were handled daily by the District

Court unit - with the help of externs from Gonzaga Law School.

                          CRIMINAL DIVISION-APPEALS

Appeals
       The Appellate Unit supervises all cases originating from the Spokane County

Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Appeals and in the Washington Supreme Court. The

appellate caseload is nearly all criminal in nature with felony appeals predominating. The

District   Court   Unit   manages   misdemeanor     criminal   appeals   to   Superior   Court.

Administrative appeals are managed by the Civil Department. The Appellate Unit manages

criminal appeals from District Court that reach the Court of Appeals.

       2003 saw a continuation of the previous year’s marked increase in appellate case

filings, with the average monthly totals in the fall seeing their highest levels in over four

years. The year ended with 217 open appeals files – the highest total since early 1999.

The average monthly caseload was 218 cases, a 19.7% increase over 2002. A total of 170

briefs were filed in appeals cases, the highest number ever recorded. Nine cases were

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argued in the Washington Supreme Court in 2003, compared to only one the previous year.

Final briefing for the personal restraint petition in the Dwayne Woods death penalty case

was completed. A decision from the Washington Supreme Court is pending in that case.



                   CRIMINAL DIVISION-VICTIM/WITNESS

Victim/Witness
       Major Crimes, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Gang, Property and Juvenile

are the various units where advocates play an important role while assisting victims.

Advocates assist all victims and survivors of homicide from the time we receive the

police report (referral) to the final outcome of their case, this may be through a guilty

plea or trial. We will at the request of the victim speak on behalf of the family or read

their Victim Impact Statement in court.

       We attend monthly Community Justice Meetings in the Juvenile Unit as well as

bringing speakers to Martin Hall (a juvenile facility). We have 2 mothers, one whose son

was murdered and one whose daughter was killed by an impaired driver. Our advocate

coordinating these Impact Panels is Lory Miller, Juvenile Advocate. A goal is to begin

talks with juveniles in detention as the feedback at Martin Hall was quite positive.

Shane Smith and Linda Carter talked with students at Lewis & Clark High School’s

Criminal Justice Studies. From that talk we acquired a student who volunteered in

Victim Witness through the Practicum in Community Involvement program.

       Two advocates attended the Early Childhood Brain Development at Spokane Falls

Community College. Dr. Wil Bleckman was the dynamic speaker.

       Other areas of involvement are the ongoing Kids Court, Homicide/Violent Crime

Support Group Meetings, quarterly newsletters, as well as taking care of our dedicated


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Volunteers. We also attend various training to keep up to date on the newest

legislation.

                                   CIVIL DIVISION

Civil
        The Civil Division of the Prosecutor’s Office is comprised of nine (9) attorneys,

three (3) paralegals and a secretary. Responsibilities of the Civil Division are statutory

and include: Providing advice to all Spokane County Elected Officials and department

heads, representing Spokane County Elected Officials and employees in litigation under

the County Self Insured Retention as a member of the Washington Counties Risk Pool,

representing the Prosecuting Attorney in Civil Commitment hearings, and prosecuting

violations of Spokane County Ordinances. Document production and activities for 2003

were as follows:



GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE*                                                 19515
STANDARD DOCUMENTS                                                        242
AGREEMENTS                                                                544
COURT PLEADINGS                                                          1002
MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS                                                   656
COURT ACTIVITIES**                                                        691
OTHER ACTIVITIES                                                        14671
CIVIL COMMITMENTS                                                        2476

TOTAL                                                                   39939
* Includes Public Disclosure requests on behalf of Spokane County Elected Officials
and/or Department Heads
** Includes the Civil Department representation of clients before Spokane County
District/Municipal Court, Spokane County Superior Court, Washington State Court of
Appeals, Washington State Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, Eastern Washington
Growth Management Hearings Board, and administrative hearings bodies (hearing
examiner, Civil Service, etc.)


Family Law
        As the representative of the Division of Child Support in Spokane County, the

Family Law Division of the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney's Office continues to
                                        13
represent the Division of Child Support in cases in Superior Court in Spokane County,

Lincoln County and Stevens County, and in the Federal Eastern District Bankruptcy

Court. Several Deputy Prosecutors have been appointed as Special Assistant Attorney

Generals to represent the Division of Child Support in counties outside of Spokane.

Spokane Family Law also houses the Parenting Enrichment Program, a grant funded

access and visitation program, which has been ongoing.

      The most significant change in calendar 2003 from prior years is a significant

drop in the number of paternity referrals received from the Division of Child Support.

Approximately 25% fewer referrals were received in calendar 2003 than calendar 2002.

Partially accounting for the drop in paternity referrals is the success of the paternity

acknowledgment program undertaken by the Division of Child Support.           While the

number of paternity referrals dropped, the complexity of those cases received, has

increased. Many of these cases involve significant interventions by other agencies such

as the Department of Children and Family Services, and Juvenile Court.

      The number of contempt referrals was increased during calendar 2003 and

partially offset the reduction in paternity referrals. The number of dissolution/response

cases received by Spokane County Family Law stayed relatively level from 2003 to

2003, in the neighborhood of 400 cases.

      The number of cases for which bankruptcy representation was provided

continued to increase, as did the amount of money collected through their efforts. For

2003, well over $500,000 was collected through the efforts of the Spokane Family Law

bankruptcy team.

      Challenges for the coming year will be to allocate the resources of Family Law to

meet the referrals provided by the Division of Child Support. Should paternity referrals

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continue to decline, personnel will be re-allocated to handle other types of cases. The

Division of Child Support is facing significant financial challenges and is seeking new

ways to accomplish more with fewer funds.      Prosecuting attorneys will be asked to

assist the Division of Child Support in meeting its goals.   Spokane Family Law has

continued to provide excellent representation to the Division of Child Support and the

residents of Spokane County.




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