Community Engagement

Guiding Principles

​In August 2020, Seattle Municipal Court judges voted to adopt the following three guiding principles for the court:

1.    Engage the community to guide court programs
2.    Eliminate disproportional impacts upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
3.    Collaborate with our stakeholders to transform the system and improve outcomes

Find updates on the Seattle Municipal Court's community engagement efforts on this page, and by following our news blogTwitterFacebook and Instagram

2020 Court User Survey and Focus Groups

In 2020, SMC completed two community engagement efforts: a court user survey in February, and a series of five virtual focus groups in August. 

Both of these community engagement projects were in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and before the national movement for racial justice that began this summer with George Floyd's death. SMC has conducted a couple of court user surveys in the past, most recently in 2015. In 2020, we wanted to not only get a new benchmark reading on how we are serving the community, but also get more in-depth, qualitative feedback from court clients.

2020 Access and Fairness Survey: 703 people took the survey in person at the courthouse in February, and 340 people completed the online survey when they used our website to make a payment. The survey showed that most people were generally satisfied with access and fairness at the court, but it also highlighted areas where we can improve equity.

2020 Focus Group Findings and Recommendations Report: We contracted with a local outreach and communications small business, The Vida Agency, to conduct the focus groups so that participants would feel free to share their honest feedback with an unbiased third party. This report gives us a great deal of in-depth feedback and creative recommendations for how the focus group participants believe we can improve equity, fairness, and accessibility at Seattle Municipal Court.

We are carefully considering each recommendation from these reports and are incorporating action steps into our work plans. Some changes, such as remote video hearings, are happening already. Other changes will need more time or may not be possible due to legal or budget constraints. We appreciate all of the feedback we heard, and we commit to being transparent with the public about how we move forward. Keep an eye on this page and on our blog for updates on our progress. 

In each focus group session, participants were invited to share any questions they had for the court. Watch a video Q&A with Presiding Judge Gregory for answers to the participants' questions.