Sirens & Gavels

Lawyers question new court fee system

A decision by Spokane County District Court to privatize the collection of all fines and fees, using the same company that handles its bad debts, is raising conflict-of-interest questions within the legal community.

Defense lawyers and advocates for the poor worry that PAR Acceptance Corp., hired by District Court in December to handle time-payment agreements, has an incentive to push past-due accounts into bad debt status as quickly as possible because it benefits its subsidiary, Valley Empire Collections.

Both companies are owned by Troy Peterson, a Spokane Valley businessman who’s made millions handling debt collection for courts in Spokane.

District Court officials say there’s nothing improper in the arrangement, noting that collection duties were outsourced to accommodate the elimination of several jobs due to county budget cuts.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Also:

Judge says 'we're comfortable' with collections arrangement




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