Seattle Municipal Court to resume some in-person hearings May 21 and resume jury trials June 16
Seattle (May 10, 2021) – Beginning May 21, 2021, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) will allow in-person appearances for all out-of-custody criminal cases and contested infraction hearings, in accordance with General Administrative Order 2021-02. Participants will still have the option to appear remotely for their hearing by video or by phone, unless directly ordered to appear in-person by a judge.
Jury trials will resume June 16, 2021, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Trials were suspended in November 2020 due to rising COVID-19 cases, creating a significant backlog of cases awaiting trial.
Jurors play an essential role in our justice system, and SMC is excited to welcome jurors back to the courthouse with several measures in place to protect everyone’s health and safety. The court has reduced the size of its jury pool to ensure that jurors maintain social distancing through all stages of the jury process. Plexiglass barriers have been installed in courtroom jury boxes, and deliberation rooms are equipped with air purifiers. The court's air filtration system has been adjusted to bring in more outside fresh air, in alignment with CDC guidance. Any in-custody cases will be prioritized for scheduling jury trials.
“COVID-19 has changed almost everything about our lives, but it hasn't changed the Constitutional right each person has to a trial by a jury of their peers,” said Acting Presiding Judge Adam Eisenberg. “Dozens of people are waiting for a chance to present their case before a jury. We are very grateful for our jurors, and we are ready for them to return to the courthouse to do their important work.”
SMC has offered virtual hearings since fall 2020, and began requiring virtual appearances for all criminal and contested infraction hearings in December 2020. Starting May 21, participants will have the option to attend their hearing in person or appear by video or phone. Virtual courtrooms for criminal cases and contested infraction hearings can be accessed on the court’s website.
Non-contested infraction hearings will continue to be held through written statement. If you would like to request a hearing to contest or mitigate your ticket, please follow the instructions on the back of your ticket and submit your request by mail, or call (206) 684-5600, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Find more information on SMC’s modified operations during COVID-19 here.