Honorable Karen Donohue

Judge Donohue

Judge Karen Donohue joined the Seattle Municipal Court bench in January 2011. In February 2018, Judge Donohue was appointed to the King County Superior Court and will be leaving the SMC bench. Prior to being elected, Judge Donohue worked as a Judge Pro Tem in several district and municipal courts, in a general practice firm, as a law clerk/bailiff, prosecutor and defense attorney, consultant and solo practitioner and as General Counsel at a global telecommunications consulting and network development firm. In 1998, Judge Donohue relocated to Dublin with her family for a year, where she also acted as General Counsel to an Irish mobile phone company.

Judge Donohue earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Washington and her law degree from Seattle University School of Law. She serves on several boards and committees, including the District and Municipal Judges Association Board of Directors, on the Washington State Pretrial Reform Task Force, the Washington State Legal Financial Obligation Stakeholder Consortium and the National Association of Women Judges Board of Directors. In 2016, she was awarded the Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award from the National Association of Women Judges and the Nevins Award from the Washington Judges' Foundation.   


  1. Be on time for court.
  2. Recesses will ordinarily occur between 10:30 and 10:45 and 2:45 and 3:00.
  3. No food, beverages (except water) or chewing gum is allowed in the courtroom.  
  4. Witnesses, counsel and parties should be referred to and addressed by their surnames.  
  5. Counsel should rise when making objections or addressing the court.  
  6. Counsel should not approach opposing counsel, the bench or a witness without leave of the court.  
  7. Counsel should refrain from making disparaging remarks toward other counsel or parties.  
  8. Counsel and parties are to refrain from making gestures, facial expressions or audible comments as manifestations of approval or disapproval of testimony or argument.  
  9. Have all exhibits marked with the Clerk before the motion or trial begins.  
  10. Examination of a witness should be limited to questions addressed to the witness. Counsel are to refrain from making extraneous statements, comments or remarks during examination.  
  11. Limit sidebars to only unavoidable circumstances.  
  12. Counsel should refrain from putting any matter before the jury in the form of a question which counsel knows or expects will be subject to an objection that is likely to be sustained. Such matters should be taken up with the Court outside the presence of the jury.  
  13. Counsel should not make motions (e.g., motion for a mistrial) in the presence of the jury. Such matters may be raised at the first recess or at sidebar.  
  14. When making an objection, counsel shall state only the legal basis of the objection (e.g., "leading," or "hearsay') and should not elaborate, argue or refer to other evidence unless asked to do so by the court.