City Attorney FAQ

Question: Can the City Attorney (or City Attorney staff) give me legal advice about a personal legal issue?
Answer: No. The City Attorney represents the City government. The City Attorney must decline to assist citizens with individual legal problems. Please see the next FAQ for information about obtaining an attorney.
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Question: Where can I obtain information about legal issues and services?
Answer: Check out the FAQ's posted on the City Attorney web page. Also, general legal information may be obtained at the web sites of Findlaw and and other legal information websites.
Question: Where can I find help in understanding legal terms?
Answer: Check out the Limited Glossary of Legal Terms section on the City Attorney web page for definitions of some legal words and phrases. Also, consult your local library's reference section for Black's Law Dictionary and other helpful legal reference books. On the Internet, you may link to and find many legal terms listed under the Legal References column.
Question: Where can I get help with my family law problem (divorce, separation, child custody, etc.)?
Answer:City Building.
Question: Where can I find an attorney to represent me?
Answer:Pierce County Bar Association (TPCBA) maintains a Lawyer Referral Service. The Bar office is located at 620 Ernest S. Brazill Street (Suite B), Tacoma, WA 98405-4620. Please visit their website or call 253.383.3432 to obtain business hours and information about services and costs.
Services for low-income citizens may be obtained by calling the toll-free number for the Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education, Advice & Referral) at 888.201.1014. Special services for seniors is at toll-free 888.387.7111. This coordinated effort links citizens to local volunteer lawyer programs, law school clinics, or other legal resources in the caller's community. You may also check the Northwest Justice Project website at and the CLEAR website at for information and qualifications for legal services. Both sites are accessible in English, Spanish, and Russian.
The Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel (DAC) provides legal representation for qualified indigent clients. DAC handles Pierce County criminal proceedings at Superior Court, District Court, and Juvenile Court levels as well as at Tacoma Municipal Court. The department also handles dependency and termination proceedings at Juvenile/Family Court, as well as provides representation for persons detained for involuntary civil commitment proceedings. Contact the DAC website or call them at (253) 798-6062 to obtain details about services and qualifications for representation, office locations, business hours, etc.
Question: Where can citizens who want to resolve disputes out of court get help?
Answer:tenant, mobile home park, etc.), and consumer/business disputes, as well as workplace, personal injury and probate issues. A Dispute Center website is planned for the near future. In the meanwhile, citizens may obtain information about services by calling 253.572.3657or visiting the center's website at
Question: Where can I get help with my landlord - tenant problem?
Answer:tenant laws for Washington state. Many local libraries maintain a set of the RCW in their reference sections.

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Court Services Questions
Question: Does the City of University Place have a court system and related justice services?
Answer: The City of University Place contracts with the Pierce County District Court for court and related services. In addition to court hearings and trials, Pierce County provides University Place residents with prosecution services, assigned counsel services for indigent clients, assistance to victims, probation services, as well as maintenance of all court records. Please see below for links to many of those services. In 2011 these services will be provided by the City of Lakewood.
Question: What Court do I contact when I get a traffic ticket or other criminal traffic and non-traffic citation in University Place?
Answer: Contact the University Place Municipal Court for information relating to traffic infraction. The phone number is 253.512.2258.
University Place Municipal Court
6000 Main Street SW
Lakewood WA 98499

Question: Does University Place Municipal Court handle other matters?
Answer: Yes. the University Place Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. In addition to the traffic matters listed above, the Court handles some civil matters, such as those involving certain damages for injury to individuals or personal property, civil claims (also known as 'small claims') for recovery of money not exceeding $4,000 as well as penalties and contract disputes no greater than $50,000. Please check the Pierce County District Court website, or call 253.798.7474 for more information.
Question: What kinds of cases are handled in Pierce County Superior Court, and how can I obtain information about that Court?
Answer: The Superior Court is the highest trial court at the state level and is the only court of general jurisdiction. Visit the Superior Court Administration web page for a list of all services provided by the Pierce County Superior Court, or call that office at 253.798.3654.

Additionally, the Pierce County Superior Court Clerk's Office maintains all Superior Court records and provides other court-related services. The Clerk's Office is located on the first floor of the County-City Building at 930 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma. Please check the Superior Court Clerk website for details about services and business hours, or call 253. 798.7455.

Question: How can I obtain information about Washington State Courts?
Answer: The Washington State Courts website provides excellent information about state appellate and trial courts, including the Washington State Court of Appeals/Division II in Tacoma and the Washington State Supreme Court in Olympia. In addition, most local libraries and the Washington State Library in Olympia maintain educational information about our state court system.
Question: How can I obtain information about Federal Courts?
Answer: The U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for our area are located at 1717 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma. The District Court Clerk phone number is 253.593.6313. The Bankruptcy Court number is 253.593.6310.

Please visit The Federal Judiciary Homepage for information about federal courts. You may also wish to visit the website of the highest court in the land, The U.S. Supreme Court.

The Federal Public Defender is located at 1331 Broadway, Suite 400, Tacoma, WA 98402. The phone number is 253.593.6710.

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Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Anti-Harassment Non-Contact Orders and Related Services
Question: How can I get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or Anti-Harassment No-Contact Order?
Answer:City Building, 930 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma. Clerks are available at both locations during normal business hours to assist in completing forms.
Question: Where can I get other assistance when I am in a domestic violence situation?
Answer: Phone the Domestic Violence Helpline at 253.798.4166; toll free 800.764.2420 if outside of the 253 area code; or 253.798.4620 for TDD services. Domestic violence resources are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, 718 Court E, Tacoma, WA 98402.
It is also possible to obtain a domestic violence protective order Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the University Place Police Department, 3631 Drexler Drive W. Ste. A, in University Place.

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Law/Ordinances/Statutes Questions
Question: What is the UPMC (University Place Municipal Code)? How can I access the City's Municipal Code (including the Zoning Code)?
Answer: The City of University Place Municipal Code (UPMC) includes the laws and regulations that govern the city and its citizens. The UPMC is hosted on the Code Publishing website at this link. If you do not know the exact code you are looking for, you may make a word search through this site. You may call the City Clerk at 253.566.5656 to verify whether a part of the UPMC has been amended or repealed.
Question: What is the Pierce County Code? Does it apply to University Place citizens?
Answer: The Pierce County Code (PCC) is a compilation of laws pertaining to Pierce County residents who live outside of incorporated areas. The PCC contains the laws of Pierce County which are of a general and permanent nature and which may impose fines, penalties or forfeitures. Certain parts of the PCC were adopted by University Place upon incorporation. However, the City now has its own code (UPMC) which covers most laws pertaining to City of University Place residents that were formerly covered by the PCC.

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Question: What are the RCW (Revised Code of Washington) and the WAC (Washington Administrative Code) and how can I access them?
Answer:numbered years. Earlier editions of RCW and its predecessors, as far back as the Code of 1881, are available at the State Law Library.

The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) is a compilation of the regulations of executive branch agencies, which are issued by authority of statutes. Like legislation and the Constitution, regulations are a source of primary law in Washington State. The WAC codifies the regulations and arranges them by subject or agency. A new edition of the WAC is issued every two years with supplements issued each year between new editions.

Both the RCW and the WAC can be viewed from the Statute Law Committee website. Additionally, many local libraries maintain these books in their reference sections, and they can be found at the Washington State Library in Olympia.

Question: How can I obtain current information about bills before the State Legislature before they become law to be included in the Revised Code of Washington?
Answer: The State of Washington State Legislature provides ongoing bill updates during its open session periods. Additionally, assistance is available at the toll-free Legislative Hotline 800.562.6000.
Question: Where can I look at the Washington State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution?
Answer: The Washington State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution can be found in Volume 0 of the RCW (Revised Code of Washington). See above for ideas of where to find the RCW.

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Miscellaneous Other Legal Services
Question: Where can I get legal documents recorded?
Answer: Legal documents can be recorded at the Pierce County Auditor's Office, 2401 South 35th Street, Room 200, Tacoma. Call 253.798.7427 for office hours, fees, etc., or visit the Auditor's website.
Question: Where can I get a marriage license? How much does it cost? What is the waiting period? Are marriages performed by local Judges?
Answer: Marriage licenses can be obtained at the Pierce County Auditor's Office, 2401 South 35th Street, Room 200, Tacoma. Call 253.798.7427 for office hours, costs of licenses, etc., or visit the Auditor's website.
Some Pierce County Judges do perform marriage ceremonies. Call Superior Court Administration at 253.798.3654, or visit the Superior Court Administration website and click on 'Marriage Ceremony Providers' for further information.
Question: Where can I obtain property tax information in Pierce County? How can I get a property legal description?
Answer:Treasurer's Office is located at 2401 South 35th Street, Room 142, Tacoma. Contact them at 253.798.6111 for business hours and other information. Visit the Assessor-Treasurer website to do a parcel search or obtain information.
Question: Where can I get information about State branches of government and different department and resources?
Answer: Go to for a wide variety of information and resources, from government and departments, to information on recreation, business, education, and touring.