Seattle Municipal Court Updates - July 2021


Seattle Municipal Court

Community Update

July 2021 

Update on COVID Operations

Entrance to Seattle Municipal Court

As more residents get vaccinated, we have welcomed more staff and members of the public back to the courthouse. People with criminal cases now have the option to attend their hearing in-person or virtually using WebEx video/telephone conferencing, unless they are specifically ordered to appear in-person by a judge. Infraction mitigation hearings are being held by written statement or telephone, and contested infraction hearings may be virtual via WebEx or in-person by request. Jury trials have resumed, with a smaller jury pool to ensure social distancing through all stages of the process. We are continuing to require that all court visitors and staff wear face coverings while inside the courthouse.

For more information, check out our COVID-19 FAQ available in Spanish, Somali, Russian, Vietnamese, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese. 

Welcome Back to the Community Resource Center!

A woman wearing a mask working in the Community Resource Center

This month, the Community Resource Center (CRC) reopened for service on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The CRC is open to anyone in the community and offers bus tickets, emergency food options, COVID-19 hygiene kits, clothing, and information and referrals to social services. Providers and services include:

MPS Lifeline: Free phone with unlimited minutes and text, 25 GB data for 12 months for low-income individuals.

Ideal Option: Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals with substance addiction. 

YWCA: Charity care, eye and dental care, referrals to health clinics and substance use disorder treatments, health coverage, and DSHS application assistance. 

King County Public Health: Basic food assistance, ORCA Lift Card, DSHS application assistance, and health coverage. 

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: DSHS will continue to remotely assist clients with food, cash and medical benefits, Housing Essential Needs (HEN), ID replacement, child support, and mental health and addiction services. 

Seattle Goodwill: The CRC offers free 2-3 hour workshops for court clients through Seattle Goodwill, virtual or in-person, and participants earn a $25 Goodwill gift card.

We're excited to welcome clients back to the CRC! Find more information at

Year in Review: Probation Evolution at Seattle Municipal Court

Last summer, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) published an evaluation of our Probation Services department commissioned from the Vera Institute of Justice. With it, we made a commitment to our clients, stakeholders, and community to evolve our approach to probation and address racial and gender disparities. While this critical work continues, we are highlighting some of what has been achieved to date:

  • As of early 2021, we had reduced clients on active supervision by 16% and reduced records checks by 78%, resulting in 1,640 less clients on SMC probation. Probation Services referrals are prioritized for domestic violence, driving under the influence, and mental health cases, since these are the higher risk, higher needs charges that are most appropriate for probation supervision.
  • Implemented new case closure policy. The new case closure policy has reduced our caseload and focused resources on the clients who benefit most from probation support. Prior to 2020, probation cases typically stayed open for a set period of time, often several years. Now, probation counselors administratively close cases when their client has completed their goals. This switch to goal-based supervision incentivizes and rewards clients for completing their court obligations.
  • Implemented new intake process. We have instituted a Client’s Bill of Rights and grievance process which are discussed during intake, the client’s first meeting with their counselor, so that clients know what they can expect from their counselor.

...and much more! Read the full article on our blog

Survey: What Do You Want to Know About Probation?

We are planning a virtual event this fall to share information about Pretrial Services and Probation Services at Seattle Municipal Court. Please submit any questions you have about Pretrial and Probation Services so that we can plan our program based on what you want to know. Thank you!

Options to Resolve Outstanding Warrants

People with warrants under $10,000 may be eligible to have the warrant recalled ("quashed") or schedule a hearing to talk to a judge. Individuals are encouraged to contact their attorney for assistance as well as review the court’s website for more information. If an individual does not have an attorney, they may submit a Motion To Quash Warrant/Set BWADD Hearing form via email or mail.

Resolving a warrant does not require in-person contact, and clients may participate in their hearing remotely via video or phone. In 2020, Seattle Municipal Court judges made all warrants for low-level misdemeanor charges including criminal trespass, theft, property destruction, obstruction, false reporting, and several other charges eligible for personal recognizance release. This applies both retroactively and for future warrants. 

Recognizing National Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week

Screenshot of video with Judge Gregory and David Saelee talking

National Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision week was July 18-24, and we’re celebrating the dedicated, caring people in our Programs and Services division. This team is a critical resource for clients at all stages of the court process. Programs and Services staff have been instrumental as we redesign our approach to supervision and work to transition clients out of the criminal legal system for good.

Two of our judges sat down with Probation Counselors to reflect on their work. Watch here to see David Saelee and Leah Pastrana's conversations with Presiding Judge Gregory, and Jason Piña’s conversation with Judge McDowall, as they discuss how they came to work in the field, how the job has changed over the years, and share memorable client stories.

Welcome Court Administrator Meg McCann

Meg McCann holding her confirmation document

We are pleased to welcome our new Court Administrator, Meg McCann, who leads the administrative and operational functions of the court. Meg’s first day was June 1, 2021.  

As a government executive and lawyer, Meg brings a successful track record of delivering transformational change grounded in equity and social justice. Prior to joining SMC, Meg served as Deputy Director of the Washington State Department of Licensing for three years. She also has experience as a lawyer and a leader with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and Pierce County Superior Court.

Read more about Meg on our blog

In Memory of Judge Fred Bonner

Judge Bonner smiling in a headshot

With sadness we share that former Seattle Municipal Court Judge Fred Bonner passed away in June. Judge Bonner had a long tenure with the court, serving from 1989–2014. He launched the first Community Court in Washington State and as a veteran, he was proud to help start our Veterans Treatment Court. He served three terms as Presiding Judge.

Judge Bonner was active in the community—initiating life skills programs at local high schools, serving on several boards including Big Brothers of King County, teaching law at Seattle University and North Seattle College, serving as a counseling resource for immigrant communities in South Seattle, and leading free trial advocacy seminars to help people better understand and interact with the law. We thank Judge Bonner for his many years of service to the people of Seattle, and send our condolences to his family and friends.