Judges and Courts in Shoreline

Monday, July 30, 2012

Judge Douglas Smith
Judge Marcine Anderson

In March of this year, I attended a Shoreline community meeting about the local court system. Judges Douglas J. Smith and Marcine Anderson presented information about the Shoreline District Court., which serves Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Shoreline.  Among other things, I found out that court proceedings are open to the public – why watch daytime TV?  Also, you can pay a traffic ticket or get a passport at the Shoreline District Court. You can even get married – although there are specific hours when the judges are available for this. Possibly useful things to know!

First of all, the Shoreline District Court is within the King County District court system and handles criminal infractions (misdemeanors), civil cases, and small felonies.  These courts are local and have limited jurisdiction.  Examples of cases include small claims (up to $5,000), anti-harassment orders, domestic violence protection orders, name changes, traffic and parking infractions, search warrants, civil litigation matters up to $75,000 and many other things. 

The next layer “up” is the King County Superior Court, which handles felonies greater than $75,000, and takes appeals cases from the district court.  There are additional layers above this, up to the State Supreme Court. Note that the US Federal Court System is an entirely separate system that goes up to the US Supreme Court.

Within the King County (KC) District Court system, there are specialized courts that certain cases may be deferred to: the Mental Health Court, the Veteran’s Court, and the Domestic Violence Court.  These courts are designed to handle special needs for specific cases.

Another shared service within the KC District Court system includes interpreter services.  451 interpreters can assist with translating in a total of 142 different languages – including Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Mandarin, Korean, Somali, Cantonese, Arabic, and Cambodian.  This allows for everyone to have a fair trial while keeping costs down.

Furthermore, the KC District Court system a number of features to improve the overall process.  Judges may use supervised probation to improve public safety and reduce recidivism – Shoreline District Court has two probation officers to serve this need.  While the judge assesses and determines probation conditions, the probation officers monitor for compliance with conditions.  Such services are for high impact and repeat offenders, and focus and keeping them from re-offending.

Judges may also opt to use alternatives to jail time, such as work crew, electronic home monitoring, work release, or community service for a non-profit.  These options reduce costs while allowing for useful service and monitoring defendants.

Technology is in the courtroom, too!  Paper files are a thing of the past with electronic court records; court sessions are videotaped to record proceedings. Additionally, multiple court facilities are linked through technology and governance: A court user can pay a ticket, clear a warrant, access court files, find out about their case, file legal papers, or research a case from any location within the KC District Court system. 

All in all – I found this presentation to be informative and impressive – truly a great example of how government serves us all.  For more information, you can go to their website 

Victoria Rhoades, ND, practices in Lake Forest Park.  Her husband has served jury duty in King County Superior Court – which I now know handles felonies!  Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell me a single thing about “his” case until it was all over. 


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