Merritt v. King County and Department of Retirement Services
Pierce County Superior Court
Civil Case No. 06-2-04611-6
King County Public Defense Pension Case
In Washington State it is mandated government service for counties to provide legal defense to indigent persons for whom the right to counsel is constitutionally required. King County provides indigent legal defense services through contracts with the Associated Counsel for the Accused (ACA) and other agencies such as TDA, SCRAP and NDA.
Kevin Dolan is a lawyer paid through ACA to perform indigent defense services for King County. He is entitled to membership and benefits in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), but King County failed to report him and others to the Department of Retirement Services (DRS) and failed to make retirement contributions to DRS.
The Supreme Court agreed with plaintiffs on August 18, 2011. The Supreme Court held that "the employees of the defender organizations are employees of the county for the purposes of PERS." 172 Wn.2d at 320. Read the Supreme Court's Opinion in the Case Documents section below.