Coronavirus Impact on the Judicial System
Throughout King County
- 3/20/20: Seattle Municipal Court Extends Closure Thru 4/27: In the interest of public health and safety during the COVID-19 crisis, and pursuant to Washington State Supreme Court Order No. 25700-B-606, Seattle Municipal Court is implementing an emergency limited court closure effective March 21, 2020 until further order of the court. Court operations will be limited to in-custody only appearances at Courtroom 2 of the King County Jail, under General Administrative Order 2020-06. All out-of-custody hearings, including out-of-custody arraignments, will be continued to the next available court date, no sooner than April 27, 2020. During the emergency limited closure, the in-custody only calendar will run Monday through Saturday to ensure that in-custody individuals continue to have the opportunity to present motions for release and that their cases progress as quickly as possible under these emergency circumstances. For ticket fines and fees, Seattle Municipal Court has suspended the $3.60 transaction fee for online payments and suspended the late penalty for tickets that are not responded to within 15 days. The court is not referring outstanding tickets or fines to collections during this emergency limited closure. All ticket hearings will be continued to no sooner than April 27, 2020. With the closure of the courthouse, in-person probation and day reporting have been suspended, and no new cases are being assigned. Community service and work crew obligations have been extended, and work crew activities have been suspended.
- 3/20/20: King County Superior Court Alert from Judge Helson re 3/23 & 3/24 Motions & DVPO Calendars. On Monday and Tuesday, March 23rd and 24th, all DVPO/Family Law Motions calendars are being continued to allow the Family Law Department time to plan for telephonic hearing procedures and implement changes resulting from Chief Justice Stephens’ order and amended order regarding COVID-19 measures. All mission critical/emergency motions that were on the calendar on March 23rd will be continued to Monday March 30th at 1:30 p.m. All mission critical/emergency motions that were on the calendar on Tuesday, March 24th, will be continued to Tuesday, March 31st at 1:30 p.m. Orders will be entered for each case. Reissuances will be issued for all DVPO hearings set for Monday and Tuesday; reissuance dates will be chosen by the court based on review of the case and the new date will be listed in the reissuance order. All motions, DVPOS and the Weapons Surrender calendar are telephonic until further notice. You should not be coming to the courthouse for any hearing unless specifically directed to do so by a judicial officer. Please check the relevant family law web pages for details about how to make sure that we have your contact information for purposes of telephonic hearings. The main family law page is at https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court/family.aspx. The Court anticipates entering a further family law order clarifying procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic on or before Wednesday, March 25th. Thank you for your patience and attention.
- 3/17/20: King County District Court locations will be closed March 17, 18, and 19. Details at kingcounty.gov/courts/district-court.aspx.
- 3/9/20: U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has cancelled all en banc and non-case related meetings for the remainder of this week. Details at www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000001034.
- 3/9/20: Seattle Municipal Court provided updated guidance regarding how the virus threat is impacting its operations, including announcing that all parking and traffic hearings scheduled in courtroom 201 will be rescheduled as "Adjudication by Mail" for the remainder of March. Learn more at this link or via www.seattle.gov/courts.
- 3/9/20: King County Superior Court Ex parte Department issued guidance on telephonic appearances and related filing guidance for Superior Court ex parte operations. A copy is available here.
- 3/6/20: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is suspending normal court operations at the Seattle and Tacoma courthouses through the end of the month. The courts will remain open but with limited staffing. Individual judges may have some exceptions. See www.wawd.uscourts.gov/news/press-release-and-general-order-re-court-operations-and-covid-19 for the full text of the order.
- 3/6/20: King County Superior Court remains open, but is encouraging telephonic hearings where possible. Presiding Judge James Rogers asks that the bar "minimize the number of non-essential court appearances and to fully utilize existing common-sense procedures which would not require you and your clients to come to the courthouse, such as requesting telephonic hearings and conferences when appropriate, noting civil motions without oral argument in front of the IC judge and fully using the ex parte queue." The Court is also changing the "excuse for cause" criteria regarding jury service to better protect at risk individuals. The complete message is available via this link.
In addition, Unified Family Court Chief Judge Janet Helson appeared at today's KCBA Family Law Section meeting to share steps for requests to appear by phone. A copy of the overview she provided is available at this link.
- 3/6/20: Seattle Municipal Court also remains open. Presiding Judge Ed McKenna reports that they remain open as normal but are planning to be flexible given rapidly-changing conditions.
The Association will continue to report on developments as information becomes available, with updates noted on this webpage.