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Update from the Juvenile Court regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Activities

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and mandates to reduce public, work place, and social gatherings to the extent possible to limit exposure to and spread of the corona virus, in March the Clark Children & Family Justice Center limited operations to essential matters conducted in one courtroom. As public health conditions improve, the court has been gradually increasing the number and type of hearings it can conduct safely.

As of June 1, 2020, the following procedures will operate at the CFJC.

Health and Safety Measures
  • Until further notice, public health measures are required in all CFJC courtrooms. All participants and members of the public shall wear masks unless prevented for medical reasons, a child under age 2 and a child under age 12 unless supervised by a parent or guardian, or the mask is temporarily removed to facilitate clear articulation and recording of the proceedings. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting cleaning supplies shall be used in all public areas, including courtrooms.
  • Social distancing is required. Members of the public may sit only in designated spaces. If courtroom seating is insufficient to accommodate all who wish to attend, arrangements can be made to live-stream proceedings to another location at the CFJC or to participate by video or audio. In-court seating priority will be given to family members of the parties involved in the proceeding. To the extent possible, alternative accommodations must be made in advance of the proceeding. Members of the media are encouraged to contact the assigned judge’s bailiff to arrange for media participation in advance of any hearing they would like to attend.
Courtroom Operations
  • One courtroom, currently 3D, will operate on a daily basis to hear in-custody matters and out-of-custody arraignments, motions for deferred disposition, and CEDAR plea hearings that can be conducted remotely through telephone or video, or court-approved in-court proceedings that can be conducted in accordance with public health safety measures.
  • A second courtroom, currently 4D, will begin operating three days per week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Up to five out-of-custody plea and disposition hearings will be scheduled per day in this courtroom to address the existing back-log of cases ready to proceed. These cases will be individually scheduled with the assigned judge’s bailiff on a staggered basis at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. If the underlying charge is not a felony, the hearing can be conducted remotely. If fingerprints are required for the disposition, the hearing shall be conducted in-court with proper public health measures observed.
  • If this procedure is successful and depending on hearing priorities, on June 15, 2020, staggered out-of-custody plea and disposition hearings in a second courtroom will be extended to four days per week, Tuesday through Friday.
  • Judges, bailiffs, court operations staff, and court clerks will run these courts on a rotating daily basis. To schedule hearings, counsel shall coordinate with the assigned geographic judges (contact information below). The hearing itself, however, may be presided over by a different judge depending on the rotation schedule.
  • Juvenile Court judges anticipate that as of July 6, staggered plea and disposition hearings in a second courtroom will extend to Monday afternoons. If this is successful, and depending on continuing public health improvement and directives, the court anticipates that as of July 13, 2020, two courtrooms will operate on a daily basis to hear all matters. At this time, court is expected to operate on the assigned geographic basis that was standard before the pandemic required imposition of emergency procedures.
  • Counsel continue to be encouraged to resolve matters by agreement, submit written motions to the assigned judge to resolve without argument unless requested by the court, and to seek continuances if needed. Requests for emergency hearings should be submitted in writing to the assigned judge.
  • Until all hearings are being scheduled without pandemic-related restrictions, on a weekly basis court staff will continue matters scheduled two weeks in the future that are not yet being heard (e.g., case setting and fact-finding hearings) if counsel have not rescheduled them.
  • Community supervision of youth will continue, primarily through telephone and electronic modalities. Person-to-person supervision will increase over time with public health measures being observed.
  • Truancy hearings continue to be suspended, subject to school closures.
  • The court will begin hearing ARY/CHINS matters in Kent on July 8 and Seattle cases on July 13, 2020.  Hearings will be conducted remotely through telephone or video conferencing or in-person with public health measures observed if approved by the court.
Contact Information
  • When Resource Center staff and community partners are not physically present at the CFJC, they are available by telephone (206-263-8634) and email (SCResourceCenter@kingcounty.gov).
  • Judges and employees are moving from a rotating schedule that involves telecommuting to a more consistent presence at the CFJC as operations require. When not physically present on site, judges and employees are working and accessible by telephone and electronic modalities.
  • To schedule or attend a hearing being held remotely, or if you have questions about scheduling or attending an in-person hearing, contact the bailiff for the judge to whom the case is assigned.

This expansion of operations is expected to continue in accordance with public health mandates until further notice.

June 4, 2020  

The Juvenile Court handles all cases where a juvenile is accused of committing an offense. An offense is behavior that is a crime if done by an adult. Offenses may be misdemeanors (least serious), gross misdemeanors (more serious), or felonies (most serious).

Based on reports from law enforcement, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office may refer an offender case to "Diversion" (for low-level offenses) or may file an "Information" accusing the youth of committing an offense. If an information is filed, the juvenile must go to court.

Juvenile Court also handles traffic and civil infractions if the juvenile charged with the infraction is less than 16 years old. Infractions are not offenses. An example of a traffic infraction is speeding. An example of a civil infraction is underage smoking. 

The Juvenile Court process can be confusing if you are new to the court. The following links may help you find your way:

The following video provides an overview of the Juvenile Court process:

The following resource booklet provides a wealth of information for families involved with the juvenile justice system.

The King County Department of Public Defense provides legal services to children who are facing criminal charges in Juvenile Court or youth facing at-risk youth, CHINS or truancy petitions. Go here to read about the kinds of legal services Public Defense provides. Or call (206) 477-9727 to see if you qualify for a public defender.”

Information about the Children and Family Justice Center

A variety of programs serve the public and assist you involved in, or at risk of involvement in, juvenile offender cases. These include:

A variety of juvenile offender forms are also available online.

Learn about the history of Juvenile Court in annual reports stretching back to 1911.

For King County Superior Court Annual Reports from 1998-present, please visit THIS WEBPAGE.

To contact the Juvenile Court visit the Contact Superior Court webpage.

All juvenile offender hearings take place at the Clark Children and Family Justice Center/Juvenile Court in Seattle. Juvenile Detention also is located there.