12/21/2014

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Union Gap refers judge to state for mishandling money, bad behavior

Union Gap refers judge to state for mishandling money, bad behavior

UNION GAP, Wash. -- Multiple sources close to the case say Union Gap referred Municipal Court Judge, Robert Northcott, to the state's Judicial Ethics Board.

KIMA has learned Union Gap officials are concerned with how the municipal court's money is being handled and Judge Northcott's behavior.

Northcott says the audit and referral are the result of personal agendas against him.

REPORTER: “It's fair to say that there is some tension between the executive and judiciary branch in Union Gap?"

NORTHCOTT: "I would say that's fair. It's uncalled for, but it's a fair assessment."

In a telephone interview, Union Gap City Administrator Chris Jensen says the city’s move is not personally motivated against Northcott.

"This has nothing to do with any personal attacks against Judge Northcott whatsoever,” Jensen said. “All the city is trying to do is comply with the audit findings of the Washington State Auditor’s office and ensure that we have proper controls in place to ensure that the people’s money is protected appropriately."

City officials say there have been reports of Northcott allegedly mistreating people who appear before him in court. The judge said he has heard about some of those allegations being made against him. However he says they aren't true and that he has people who will stand in his defense.

Northcott said one story going around is that he forced a mom and her crying child out into the cold. He says that decision was made to keep peace in the court.

"She came back alone and I inquired, 'Where is the child?' She says, 'In the car with my husband.' So, there wasn't any mistreatment of anyone there,” Northcott said.

Northcott says the courts finances became unorganized only after it was forced to relocate out of city hall because of dangerous mold.

Jensen admits there is some truth to that. However, Jensen says for years the court failed to properly report its finances to the city.

Union Gap and the State say they cannot comment on the ongoing audit or referral until investigations wrap up.

Northcott says he thinks personal agendas will be revealed and his name will be cleared.

"Stick around for a while and it will all come out I think,” Northcott said.

The court controls about $350,000 annually.

Union Gap and the State tell KIMA it can not comment on either investigation until their finished. 

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