Seattle Municipal Court Updates - November 2021


Seattle Municipal Court

Community Update

November 2021 

Update on Court Operations During COVID-19

Entrance to Seattle Municipal Court

We are continuing to offer virtual hearings using WebEx video conferencing for all criminal courtrooms, and participants have the option to attend in-person if they prefer. Starting December 10, WebEx virtual hearings will also be available for infraction mitigation hearings. 

In alignment with the Washington Supreme Court and the City of Seattle's guidelines, a COVID-19 vaccination mandate went into effect for court staff on November 1, 2021. We are requiring all contractors, volunteers and interpreters who work in the courthouse to be fully vaccinated by December 5, 2021.  

We're Hiring! Community Engagement Advisor and Research Lead Advisor

We recently posted two new job openings: we are hiring a Research, Planning and Evaluation Lead Advisor, and a Community Outreach & Engagement Advisor. 

The Research, Planning and Evaluation Lead Advisor oversees the Court’s Research, Planning & Evaluation Group (RPEG). RPEG serves as SMC's innovation and performance hub and directly supports the court in delivering meaningful change and understanding and continuously improving performance. This position provides expertise and support in driving change and innovation within the court, and partners directly with executives and other business owners to identify and achieve performance outcomes by advancing equity, social justice, diversity, and inclusion goals.

The new Community Outreach and Engagement Advisor role will be essential to supporting court-wide initiatives and programs. Leading with a race and social justice lens, this position will create a framework for tailored and meaningful community and stakeholder engagement to ensure court programs and offerings are informed by and responsive to the diverse and unique needs of our constituents and stakeholders. This position will build and maintain ongoing relationships with community organizations to regularly listen to community needs, inform the community of court programs and initiatives, and when appropriate, solicit feedback to help shape programs and policies.

We also have an ongoing recruitment for an intermittent Personal Recognizance Screener. Apply today!

City of Seattle finalizes 2022 budget

Yesterday, the Seattle City Council approved the City's 2022 annual budget. SMC's 2022 budget includes:

  • $88,000 in increased funding for subsidized electronic home monitoring, which will allow the court to cover the costs of electronic home monitoring for clients who are indigent or at risk of homelessness
  • $140,000 in funding to provide case management services at the Community Resource Center
  • $168,000 in funding to expand race and social justice training and leadership development for court staff

More information on the 2022 City of Seattle budget

Presiding Judge Gregory grants motions to dismiss 37 Prostitution cases and 73 Driving While License Suspended cases

Presiding Judge Willie Gregory recently granted several motions from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office: the first to quash bench warrants, close, and dismiss 37 outstanding Prostitution cases; the others to quash bench warrants, close, and dismiss a total of 73 outstanding Driving While License Suspended in the 3rd Degree (DWLS 3) cases. 

The motion to close or dismiss the outstanding Prostitution cases was granted September 16, 2021. The sole charge in these cases was Prostitution, with the oldest warrant issued more than twenty years ago and the most recent issued in 2019.

The three motions to close or dismiss outstanding DWLS 3 cases were granted on October 21, October 28, and October 29, 2021. The cause for the license suspension in all cases was failure to pay a traffic ticket or failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket.

DWLS 3 is a criminal violation that can be charged when a person drives while their license is suspended. Until recently, driver’s licenses could be suspended due to the driver failing to pay or failing to appear in court for a civil moving violation, such as speeding or driving through a stop sign.

In its motions, the City Attorney’s Office cited a 2021 decision from Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson that ruled that the DWLS 3 statue was “unconstitutional as applied to individuals who are indigent and is therefore void and unenforceable.” Following Judge Wilson’s ruling, the Department of Licensing (DOL) discontinued license suspensions resulting from a person’s failure to pay or appear in court for non-criminal moving violations.

The people who have had warrants dismissed and their cases closed will be notified via mail. Read more

Seattle Municipal Court Responds to Office of the City Auditor Assessment of Probation Services

In September, the Office of the City Auditor (OCA) released a review of SMC Probation, a post-adjudication jail alternative in which counselors are paired with clients to support them as they meet court-ordered obligations. SMC participated in OCA’s assessment and concurs with the auditor’s 14 recommendations.

SMC shares OCA's goal to ensure that probation is not contributing to racial disparities present in our criminal legal system, and to ensure probation results in successful outcomes for everyone. We take the auditor’s findings of racial and ethnic disproportionality in SMC’s 2017-2019 probation population very seriously. We have implemented many changes since then, and we will continue our efforts to ensure all who come to our court are heard, feel that they were treated fairly and with respect, and leave better than when they came to us.

Read more

New Ways to Connect with the Community Resource Center

Screenshot of CRC newsletter

The Community Resource Center (CRC), a social services hub located on the second floor of the courthouse, distributes a weekly "Community Corner" update to our CRC service provider partners. This newsletter is posted on Mondays gives updates on CRC services, upcoming events, local resources and classes, and other information. Check out past issues of the newsletter and follow us on Twitter @SeaMuniCourt for updates. 

We have also added a new CRC service request form to the CRC website. Anyone in need can send their request by filling out the form, and a staff member will contact you within two business days after you submit your request.