Civil Division

‚ÄčThe Washington State Constitution and state statutes vest the legal function for county government in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. With nearly every county action of any consequence being subject to review for substantive and procedural conformity with state and federal laws, the Prosecuting Attorney has an important role to play in advising Kitsap County officials and their departments.

The Chief of the Civil Division of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office is Jacquelyn Aufderheide.  The Civil Division provides comprehensive legal services to more than 50 elected and appointed officials, departments, divisions, and affiliated agencies, assisting them in making decisions in the best legal interests of the community.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys in the Civil Division provide independent and ethical legal services to county officers and employees while protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens. The attorneys offer expert counsel to our county clients and conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and civility. 

By handling these matters in-house, Kitsap County saves millions of dollars in legal fees. Such cost savings are achieved not only by the lack of profit added to overhead (the State Constitution prohibits the making of profit out of county or other public money), but through familiarity with county operations and personnel.

Deputy prosecutors in the Civil Division, who have over 170 years of combined legal experience, work closely with county clients on a wide range of legal issues covering virtually every aspect of civil law. Examples include:

  • Contracts. Every county elected official and department director is responsible for overseeing contracts for purchases of equipment, goods, and services. In addition, the county enters into agreements for the acquisition and disposition of real and personal property, and easements. In advising clients in contract matters, deputy prosecutors utilize their expertise in contract laws, including public procurement, bidding for public works projects, and contract negotiation, drafting, and interpretation.

  • Open Public Meetings. The Civil Division advises multi-member governing bodies concerning open meetings laws, including notices of meetings, recording minutes, continuances, special meetings, and executive sessions.

  • Public Records. All county offices and departments create, receive, and maintain public records, and Civil Division attorneys advise clients to ensure compliance with public disclosure laws as well as privacy and confidentiality laws. A record may be withheld in whole or in part only if it falls within a specific enumerated statutory or legal exemption.

  • Elections. Deputy prosecuting attorneys advise the County Auditor and Canvassing Board on topics such as ballot measure language, candidacy filings, voter registration, irregularities in voting and elections, and certifying elections.
  • Property Taxes. The Civil Division advises the County Assessor in matters pertaining to ad valorem taxes on real property, assessments of personal property used in a business, current use classifications (e.g., forest, open space, agricultural designations), and assessment role corrections. The Civil Division represents the county before the Board of Tax Appeals and Board of Equalization.

  • Revenues and Finances.  The County Treasurer receives legal services from the Civil Division in matters such as property tax statements, delinquent taxes, tax liens, foreclosure and bankruptcy, and investment of county funds.  The County Auditor and Board of Commissioners receive legal services concerning financial reporting, purchasing, budgeting, and tax levies.
  • Labor and Employment Law. Kitsap County is one of the largest employers within the county, employing over 1,100 people and utilizing the services of hundreds of volunteers. The Civil Division advises virtually every county officer, supervisor, and manager on a variety of labor and employment issues such as labor relations and collective bargaining, wage and hour laws, medical leave and disability laws, employee misconduct and discipline, and prevention of discrimination and harassment.

  • Tort Defense. Civil deputies defend tort claims and lawsuits against county offices, departments, officers, and employees. Cases defended this year included those based upon road design or signage, law enforcement activities, supervision of inmates, injuries on county property, auto accidents, and employment.  In partnership with the County's Risk Management Division, the Civil Division resolves most cases with a zero payout and uses early evaluation, early resolution processes, and mediation to resolve appropriate claims and cases.

  • Land Use. the Environment, and Open Spaces. The Board of County Commissioners and its Departments of Community Development, Public Works, and Parks receive legal services from the Civil Division relating to commercial and residential development, transportation, capital facilities and utilities, road repair and construction, storm water and wastewater systems, collection and disposal of solid waste, as well as environmental planning, preservation of open space, and maintenance of parks. The Civil Division assists with investigation and appropriate remedial action of public nuisances and other conditions that violate a variety of codes and regulations. Civil Division attorneys represent the county in land use matters before the hearing examiner, the Planning Commission, various administrative agencies, the Growth Management Hearings Board, and state courts. The Civil Division provided legal services to county officials on all aspects of the comprehensive plan update and represented the county before the Growth Management Hearings Board in challenges to the county's most recent update.

  • Human Services. The Civil Division assists the Board of County Commissioners and its Department of Human Services with legal issues associated with providing a variety of essential services to promote the health and well-being of Kitsap County residents, including aging and long-term care, housing assistance, mental health and addiction, disability employment, the needs of veterans, and administering state and federal contracts and grants funding the delivery of these services.