Advancing the City's interests by providing exceptional legal services and creative solutions in civil and criminal matters.
Summary of our office responsibilities
Prosecuting a domestic violence case, reviewing a public works contract, providing guidance to the City Council during a public meeting, creating a park easement, and arguing before the Appeals Court are examples of routine duties of the City Attorney's Office. The office is responsible for legal representation on behalf of City government and consists of two divisions: civil and prosecution.
Civil Division: The civil division provides legal counsel to and representation of all city departments, the Mayor, City Council, and City officials. The office prepares ordinances and other legislative documents to advance the policies and interests of the City. In order to facilitate City operations, attorneys frequently prepare and review contracts, including real estate contracts, goods and services contracts, inter-governmental agreements, and public works contracts. The office represents City government and officials in claims and legal actions in District, Superior, Appeals, Supreme, and Federal courts; before the Hearing Examiner; in arbitrations; and in other quasi-judicial hearings.
Prosecution Division: In order to reduce crime and sustain a safe community, the prosecution division is responsible for the prosecution of all violations of City criminal codes. Such crimes include DUIs, traffic violations, assaults, malicious mischief, vehicle prowls, public disturbances, shoplifting/theft, trespassing, hit and runs and domestic violence matters. When cases proceed to court, they are heard in Bellingham Municipal Court. The division also provides a Victims Advocate service to victims and witnesses of criminal incidents (see link in this website).
The City Attorney's Office represents the interests of the City and the public as a whole.
The office is prohibited from providing legal advice to individuals, whether the matter is civil or criminal in nature.
Victims Advocate Program
Victims and witnesses to a crime are welcome to obtain assistance through the prosecution division. Specifically, the Victim Advocate in that office provides essential help to individuals affected by a crime, including the following:
- Orients and explains the criminal justice process
- Assists in the completion of declarations and/or victim impact statements to the court
- Accompanies victims to interviews, court hearings and trials
- Provides case updates
- Advocates and provides emotional support
- Refers victims to local support agencies and resources
- Facilitates restitution for damage to or loss of property
- Assists in the return of property
The Victim Advocate's office is located on the first floor of the Municipal Court building at 2014 "C" Street in Bellingham and can be contacted at 778-8285. Calling in advance is advised to secure an appointment.
Public Records Requests
The City of Bellingham recognizes the importance of open government and will continue to provide access to public records as required by RCW 42.56. The City carefully exercises the discretion to deny requests, in whole or in part, based on specific laws in order to protect the rights of individuals to privacy and to promote the efficient administration of government.