Day-long mediation yields no agreement between judges and county

MONTESANO — Despite a marathon mediation session that began at 9 Monday morning, the Grays Harbor Superior Court judges and the county commissioners didn’t approve any kind of agreement by the time the session came to an end at about 6 p.m.

The commissioners only broke for a short lunch and then for half an hour to conduct some business during their afternoon meeting.

The judges have sued the county over budget cuts from 2012, which have since been restored. But the issues also focus on courthouse security and whether the court needs a third courtroom. Plus, the commissioners cut the court budgets again in 2013, and even though that’s not part of the present lawsuit, the suit could be amended to include that aspect.

The commissioners remained in their conference room at the County Administration Building while the judges remained at the courthouse. A retired judge, who works for Seattle-based Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service, shuttled between the two venues as he tried to work out a deal between the parties.

The commissioners were officially in a closed-door executive session throughout the day.

County Commissioner Herb Welch said he still hopes a deal can be struck that will end the lawsuit the judges started, now stretching into the 16th month.