Upcoming Trial Frequently Asked Questions

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is an order of the court that requires you to appear at the specified time and place to testify as a witness. You are paid $10 plus mileage (based on your zip code) for appearing but must bring your subpoena to court. Witness checks are mailed by Seattle Municipal Court and may take 4 to 6 weeks for you to receive.

When can I find out if I need to appear or not?

Jury trial information is updated the FRIDAY before your court date after 5 p.m. If you have further questions about the status of your case, call our main number (206) 684-7757.

What about hearings other than jury trials?

Bench trials, contested hearings, revocation hearings or motion hearings will proceed as noted on your subpoena unless you are notified by the assigned prosecutor of a change.

What happens if I do not appear?

Failure to appear as specified may result in the issuance of a material witness warrant for your arrest or a contempt of court citation. You may only be excused from appearing by the judge or the assigned prosecutor.

What happens in court?

When you initially appear in court, there will be a lot of activity. The attorneys for both sides check in all their witnesses and advise the judge as to their ready status for trial. The defendant may also plead guilty at any point, in which case you will be excused from trial. Please be prepared to spend at least most of the morning in court and all day if you are sent to trial. Sometimes the case may need to be set over to the next day. If you need proof of your attendance in court for your employer, we can provide you with a signed copy of your subpoena.

I have checked the status of my case and I am still unclear as to the status.

If the case is "disposed," "plea entered" or "canceled" there will be no trial, and you are released.
If the case is "continued" there will most likely be a future trial date and you will receive a new subpoena.
If there is a statement requesting that you be "on-call" you should call the prosecutor or witness coordinator and provide a number where you can be reached all day on the trial day and be available to come to court if the trial goes forward. The benefit is you will not be required to appear in person at 9:00 a.m.
If you are directed to appear for interviews, you must appear at the scheduled time and place.

How do I get to the Justice Center?

The Seattle Justice Center is on 5th Avenue between Cherry and James. There is a James Street exit off I-5 North and South. There is parking, but it is at your own expense. The City does not reimburse parking fees.

What should I expect when I arrive?

You should allow an extra 15 minutes to get through security and locate the courtroom. Cell phones and pagers must be turned off once you enter the courtroom. Someone with the Seattle City Attorney's Office will come around and check you in.

How long will I be in court?

The process of calling all the cases takes a couple of hours. If your case goes to trial, a courtroom will be assigned, and you will be given instructions on where to report. In this instance, you will probably be in court most of the day. A number of other things may happen and there will be no trial. You will then be released by a representative of the Seattle City Attorney's Office.

What should I wear in court?

Respectful business or office attire.

What should I expect when the trial starts?

You may want to refresh your memory. If so, ask the prosecutor to show you a copy of the statement you made to police. You will be asked to wait outside the courtroom when other witnesses testify. You may want to bring something to read as this process can sometimes be time consuming. When the court is ready for your testimony, you will be called in. You will be asked to step forward, take an oath and be seated on the witness stand.