Here’s an earlier version of Eatonville’s City Hall, as well the Light and Water Dept. and the Police Headquarters. By the 1970s it had been replaced with with the newer version.
Steiner was a part-time judge and came to town every other Friday. The rest of the time, Court Commissioner Rosemarie Van Cleve handled all court duties. She heard cases, found people guilty, assessed fines, suspended licenses . . . everything by sentence someone to jail. That had to wait for Judge Steiner.
The District Court used to be held on the first floor, but over time more room was needed and it was moved upstairs. Court was still held downstairs because many people couldn’t make it up the stairs. Rosemarie says, “I got my exercise in those days.”
Innovative Bookkeeping System
There was more to being Court Commissioner in Eatonville than just hearing cases, Rosemarie was also in charge of the bookkeeping. She developed a system (pre-computer) that she says was “very simple and impossible to cheat”. The system caught the attention of others. “There was a man from Eastern Washington and another from Olympia that stayed a whole week looking at the system.” They liked what they saw and the system was adapted for County and State courts.
Later on, the State wanted Court Commissioners to also be attorneys. If non-attorney court commissioners like Rosemarie wanted to remain commissioners they would have to sit for an 8-hour exam. Out of the 250 court commissioners that sat for the exam, 13 passed, and one was Rosemarie, and she kept working in Eatonville until she retired in 1998.
Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.
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