Municipal courts are those created by cities and towns. Violations of municipal or city ordinances are heard in municipal courts. A municipal court's authority over these ordinance violations is similar to the authority that district courts have over state law violations. The ordinance violation must have occurred within the boundaries of the municipality. Like district courts, municipal courts only have jurisdiction over gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors and infractions. Municipal courts do not accept civil or small claims cases. As with district courts, municipal courts can issue domestic violence protection orders and no-contact orders. A municipal court can issue anti-harassment protection orders upon adoption of a local court rule establishing that process. More than two million cases are filed annually in district and municipal courts. Excluding parking infractions, seven out of every eight cases filed in all state courts are filed at this level. This is due primarily to the broad jurisdiction these courts have over traffic violations and misdemeanors.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Snohomish County Public Defender - 17 years; trial experience includes complex murder charges; extensive experience with overlapping issues of mental health treatment, alcohol & drug dependency, therapeutic alternatives to incarceration, and breaking the cycle of recidivism.
After 17 years as a public defender in Snohomish County, I want to take on an even greater public service role in my hometown of Everett. I grew up in Everett, have spent all of my professional life here, and decided to raise my own children in this community. As a municipal court judge, I will have the opportunity to address the challenges facing my community on a more systemic level.
• Untreated mental illness and the heroin epidemic have resulted in a marginalized population within the City of Everett -- a crisis that we have only begun to address. The Mental Health Alternatives Program in Everett Municipal Court was created in response to that crisis, and I hope to expand and improve that program.
• Even though our poorest citizens experience an average of nine legal issues a year, about half of all Washingtonians cannot afford a lawyer. A great many citizens fall into that difficult legal crevasse when they do not qualify for Legal Aid or a Public Defender but certainly cannot afford to hire a private attorney. As a judge, I would expect to see many litigants appearing before me without the assistance of an attorney.
• There is still considerable racial disparity in our justice system. Judges must ensure that defendants are not being sentenced based on anything other than the verdict rendered and the defendant’s criminal history.
I support alternatives to criminal prosecution, as studies have shown that drug courts, mental health courts, and diversion programs all have high success rates. Because city resources are stretched to their maximum, and because incarceration is very expensive, I believe that it is both financially prudent and socially desirable to find alternatives to incarceration and to provide support services so that offenders can successfully transition back into society as quickly as possible. There are some excellent programs that have been developed in different parts of the state, and I would hope, as an Everett Municipal Court judge, to take advantage of the hard work done by other courts to create such programs.
• The Washington Supreme Court's recent ruling in State v. Blazina requires courts in Washington to ensure that legal financial obligations ordered as part of sentencing are commensurate to each individual's ability to pay. I worked with Snohomish County District Court Judge Tam Bui and the Snohomish County Prosecutors Office to implement the directives of Blazina.
• I recently participated in Snohomish County's efforts to create a Veterans Court. I was able to offer insights from a public defense perspective and assisted with data collection during the creation of a final proposal to the Superior Court bench.
• Convictions for even minor non-violent crimes can have far-reaching immigration consequences for non-citizen defendants, even those with legal status. I have worked with many non-citizen clients to eliminate or mitigate those consequences.