5.190 - Court Appearances and Legal Proceedings

Effective Date: 4/1/2009

I. Subpoenas and Court Appearances

A. Police Officers and Parking Enforcement Officers shall respond to all subpoenas and summons received from any court, or other formal hearings resulting from actions related to their City employment.

1. Only the primary officer, the officer that is listed first on the subpoena, shall attend Seattle Municipal Court cases and License Revocation Hearings, unless prior approval for additional officers is granted by a sergeant or requested by the City Attorney’s office.

2. If for any reason the primary officer cannot appear, the officer shall attempt to arrange for the secondary officer to answer the subpoena or summons.

3. In the event that neither officer can attend, it shall be the responsibility of the primary officer to notify the witness coordinator for Municipal Court cases or the prosecuting attorney’s office for Superior Court cases. Officers who cannot make satisfactory arrangements with the court shall notify their sergeant(s).

a. The sergeant shall take the necessary steps to resolve the conflict.

4. Officers shall be prepared and present at the required place, date, and time specified on the subpoena or summons.

5. Sergeants will personally deliver subpoenas, summons, etc. directly to the involved employee. In addition, the sergeant will maintain a written record of such delivery. It will be the responsibility of the section/precinct Captain to maintain a record of all such service occurring in their respective sections/precincts. In cases where in-person delivery is not practical (e.g. change of court date/time and the employee is at home), sergeants must still document their delivery efforts.

6. Sergeants have the responsibility of notifying officers who are on extended sick leave of incoming subpoenas. Sergeants shall mail subpoenas to the officer’s home address and make phone notification in those instances where a mailed notification would not provide sufficient warning of a pending court date.

a. Officers on extended sick leave who are able to appear and testify shall make every effort to comply with any subpoena or summons received.

7. Officers responding to subpoenas or summons outside of the City shall contact the Patrol Operations Bureau Administrative Section for transportation instructions.

8. Officers shall obtain approval of their sergeant prior to testifying in any court or hearing not directly related to their duties as police officers or City employees, except in those cases when it is clear that the officer is acting as a private citizen and party in a non-police court action.

B. Checking Seattle Municipal Court Trial Information

1. All Seattle Municipal Court trial updates will be posted on the City Law Department’s website: www.seattle.gov/law/docs/upcomingtrialinfo.htm

a. There is a link to the trial updates from the Law Department’s main page at: www.seattle.gov/law. The link can be accessed from any Internet capable computer so it can be accessed from home as well as from work. A link to the page has also been added to the SPD in-web home page accessible from any Department networked computer.

2. The Trial Information web page lists cases by the SMC case number. There are no current plans to list the cases by Defendant. The Law Department is including the SMC case number on all subpoenas issued to SPD Officers. The SMC case number will be needed to look up the status of a case on the web page.

a. The Trial Information line will not be linked to the MDT’s for security reasons.

C. Officer Stand-by

1. Officers will continue to receive an email from the Law Department informing them that they will soon receive a subpoena. The email will instruct the officers on how they can put themselves on stand-by (voluntary recall). Officers have the option of responding to the email or by calling 684-7757.

II. Failure to Appear

A. If an officer fails to appear to a Municipal Court assigned case then Municipal Court personnel will contact the SPD Court Coordinator. The Court Coordinator will log the officer’s FTA notice upon receipt. The Court Coordinator then forwards the FTA notice and the Performance Management Record (PMR) forms to the appropriate Bureau Chief, along with a due date for action. The Court Coordinator maintains a database of information that outlines those employees with current FTA information on record. The court coordinator will coordinate with Human Resources and/or OPAIS for those incidents requiring specialized attention.

B. The following section contains definitions and consequences for officers if they have a First, Second, Third or Fourth Failure to Appear in Municipal Court.

1. First Failure to Appear:

a. Upon receiving a FTA form, the Court Coordinator will check the employee’s file for possible prior FTAs within a three (3) year period before forwarding it to the appropriate Bureau Chief with instructions for resolution. The Bureau Chief will ensure that the FTA form is forwarded to the appropriate sergeant for action.

b. The sergeant will review the circumstances with the named employee who is alleged to have failed to appear for court. The sergeant will note the circumstances surrounding the allegation described on the FTA form. If it is confirmed that the employee did not have justifiable reasons for failing to appear for court, the following will occur:

(1) The sergeant will counsel the employee as to the importance of complying with a court ordered subpoena to appear in court as directed.

(2) The sergent will ensure that appropriate documentation that outlines the specifics of the counseling session is noted on a PMR form.

(3) The sergeant will forward both the completed FTA and PMR forms through the chain of command up to the Bureau Chief. The Bureau Chief will then forward it to the Court Coordinator for filing purposes.

(4) For a first confirmed FTA, copies of the FTA and PMR forms will not be placed in the employee’s Human Resource Personnel file.

Note: The above listed actions will be considered a supervisory counseling session.

2. Second Confirmed Failure to Appear - It is considered a second confirmed failure to appear for court if the violation occurs within 36 months (3 years) from the date of a previous confirmed violation.

a. It is considered a second confirmed failure to appear for court if the violation occurs within 36 months (3 years) from the date of a previous confirmed violation.

b. Upon receiving a FTA form, the Court Coordinator will check the employee’s file for possible prior FTAs within a three (3) year period before forwarding it to the appropriate Bureau Chief with instructions for resolution.

c. The Bureau Chief will ensure that the FTA form is forwarded to the appropriate sergeant for action.

d. The sergeant will review the circumstances with the named employee who is alleged to have failed to appear for court. The sergeant will note the circumstances surrounding the allegation described on the FTA form. If it is confirmed within 36 months (3 years) from a previous FTA violation that the employee did not have justifiable reasons for failing to appear for court, the following will occur:

(1) The sergeant will counsel the employee as to the importance of complying with a court ordered subpoena to appear in court as directed.

(2) The sergeant will ensure that appropriate documentation that outlines the specifics of the counseling session is noted on a PMR form.

(3) The sergeant will forward both the completed FTA and PMR forms through the chain of command up to the Bureau Chief. The Bureau Chief will then forward it to the Court Coordinator for filing purposes.

(4) For a second confirmed FTA, copies of the FTA and PMR forms will not be placed in the employee’s Human Resource Personnel file.

Note: The above listed actions will be considered a verbal reprimand.

3. Third Confirmed Failure To Appear - It is considered a third confirmed failure to appear for court if the violation occurs within 36 months (3 years) from the date of the first two confirmed violations.

a. It is considered a third confirmed failure to appear for court if the violation occurs within 36 months (3 years) from the date of the first two confirmed violations.

b. Upon receiving a FTA form, the Court Coordinator will check the employee’s file for possible prior FTAs within a three (3) year period before forwarding it to the appropriate Bureau Chief with instructions for resolution.

c. The Bureau Chief will ensure that the FTA form is forwarded to the appropriate Lieutenant or Captain for action.

d. The appropriate Lieutenant or Captain will review the circumstances with the named employee who is alleged to have failed to appear for court. He/she will note the circumstances surrounding the allegation described on the FTA form. If it is confirmed within 36 months (3 years) from the first of two previous FTA violations that the employee did not have justifiable reasons for failing to appear for court, the following will occur:

(1) The appropriate Lieutenant or Captain will elicit the assistance of the Human Resources Bureau.

(2) The appropriate Lieutenant or Captain will counsel the employee as to the importance of complying with a court ordered subpoena and consequences for failing to appear for court.

(3) The appropriate Lieutenant or Captain will ensure that appropriate documentation outlines the specifics of the counseling session and is noted on a PMR form.

(4) The appropriate Lieutenant or Captain will forward both the completed FTA and PMR forms through the chain of command up to the Bureau Chief. The Bureau Chief will then forward it to the Court Coordinator for filing purposes.

Note: The above listed actions will be considered a written reprimand and such documentation will be placed in the employee’s personnel file within Human Resources.

4. Fourth Confirmed Failure to Appear - It is considered a fourth confirmed failure to appear for court if the violation occurs within 36 months (3 years) from the date of the first of the three previous confirmed violations.

a. Upon receiving a FTA form, the Court Coordinator checks the employee’s file for possible prior FTAs within a three (3) year period before forwarding it to the appropriate Bureau Chief with instructions for resolution. The Bureau Chief will forward the necessary information to OPAIS for investigation. If sustained, the employee may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

III. Meetings with Attorneys

A. Interviews and meetings with attorneys shall be scheduled, if possible, during the officer’s normal working hours to avoid unnecessary overtime.

B. Meetings scheduled during off duty hours shall first be approved by the officer’s sergeant. The sergeant shall justify why overtime was authorized.

C. Overtime shall not be approved for meetings which could have been scheduled during the officer’s normal shift.

IV. Overtime Pay for Court Appearances

A. For specific information regarding court overtime pay, employees shall refer to their current collective bargaining agreement. In the event of a conflict between the agreement and this manual, the provisions of the bargaining agreement shall apply.

B. Employees shall document court overtime on the Overtime Request (form 1.33).

1. A bailiff’s or prosecutor’s signature is required by the Timekeeping Squad when an Overtime Request is submitted as a result of a court appearance.

a. Both signature blocks must be signed when the secondary, non-subpoena officer appears for court in place of the subpoenaed primary officer.

C. Employees shall not receive overtime pay for any court appearances while on a regular-duty status. This includes any judicial or quasi-judicial hearing in Federal, Superior, Justice, and Municipal Courts.

D. Employees, whether officially on- or off-duty, who are being compensated at the time by City salary or overtime pay, shall not receive witness fees, either directly or indirectly, for appearances at any judicial or quasi-judicial hearing.

E. Compensation for mileage or travel expenditures via private vehicle shall be allowed, but any officer or employee receiving witness fees over and above travel allowances shall immediately report the amount received to the Fiscal, Property, and Fleet Management Section for payroll adjustment.

F. Employees shall not be allowed overtime compensation by the Department for appearances in any court or hearing not directly related to their official duties as police officers or City employees.