Visiting the Court
Superior Court, including Family and Juvenile Court are committed to maintaining a safe and secure environment for everyone who visits the courthouse. To do so, the court needs everyone to cooperate with some basic rules and directions from security staff.
Yes, you will be screened when you enter the courthouse. This is to keep the courthouse secure.
The moment you enter a courthouse, you will notice security measures in place. Near each court building entrance is a screening station. Court Security Officers will guide you through the screening process to identify any prohibited items. Please follow their directions. This procedure is for your safety and the safety of everyone in the building. It is not meant to harass or exclude anyone.
When you enter the courthouse, court security officers will check the contents of your purse, briefcase, or any other bag or container you have. They will do this by passing the items through an X-ray machine or by doing a visual inspection. You will also have to go through metal detectors. For this to be an efficient process, please:
- Remove jewelry (watches, large earrings, etc.). Place these items in your bags or in the trays provided before you go through the metal detector.
- Remove outerwear such as jackets. This will save you time and prevent you from having to be scanned a second time with a handheld wand.
- Remove any other items that can set off the metal detector. These include wallets with credit cards, electronic items, and belts with metal buckles.
Yes. Before you enter the building, make sure you leave some items at home or in your car. Weapons are not allowed in any court facility (RCW 9.41.300). “Weapons” include firearms or items that can used as weapons, such as:
- Aerosol bottles
- Other items that security staff determine are a weapon or could be used as a weapon.
You cannot come into the courthouse with a prohibited item. There is some weapons storage, but it is best to not bring these items to the courthouse at all. If a prohibited item is taken from you by security, you will be given a receipt and it will be returned to you at the end of your visit only if you present your receipt. You must pick up your items within 30 days or they will be turned over to the Sheriff’s Office for destruction under their policy.
Planning ahead can facilitate the screening process and ease your experience at the courthouse. Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.
The final decision rests with Court Security Officers and Court Administration whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
Yes. Washington courts are open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend most court hearings and trials. You do not need to have official business at the court or make an appointment, you can just walk in. There are a few situations, like juvenile cases, that may be closed and private. Please carefully review all posted signs and follow directions from court staff.
If you have any questions, please ask a court security officer or court staff member.
Please review General Rule 16. Generally news media are allowed. At the earliest opportunity, news media should notify court administration at 360-754-4108 as to which case they will be present for. It is important to understand that Court Administration can not expressly grant or deny permission from the judge regarding media requests, and any concerns will be addressed on the record if needed. When in the court room it is expected that neither video or still photographers move about the courtroom during proceedings, nor engage in any movement or conversation that attracts undue attention.
The courthouse is not a great environment for children and we highly encourage you to make child care arrangements for your time in court. We understand that this is not always possible and children are sometimes present in court. There are limited children’s books and toys available at Family & Juvenile Court, but there is no child care available at either courthouse. You should not bring a child subject to the court proceeding unless an emergency arises or required by the Court.
Real courtrooms are not like what you see on television and movies. If you have not been to court before, you may want to watch a hearing beforehand so you can get a sense of how things work in the courtroom.
Here are the basic rules and expectations in the courtroom:
- Silence your cell phone or pager.
- No food, beverages, or chewing gum are allowed inside the courtroom.
- Keep talking and noises to a minimum when there is a hearing or trial going on.
- Stand when the judicial officer enters or leaves the courtroom, if you can.
- Always follow the instructions of the judicial officer and court staff.
- If you can, stand up when you talk to the judge, unless they tell you that you may stay seated.
- When you speak, be polite. Try to be calm. Do not interrupt—you will get your chance to speak.
- Give the court all the information it needs, but keep it brief. It may be helpful to make an outline of what you want to say for your own use. This way, you will be sure you haven’t left anything out. Note: Here is a link to the family law motion filing requirements
to assist you.
- Speak loudly enough so that everyone in the courtroom can hear you.
- If you cannot hear what others in the courtroom are saying, let the judicial officer know. Judicial officers and court staff can assist you in obtaining hearing devices to assist you.
- Hats are prohibited in the courtroom unless worn for religious or medical reasons. Please dress appropriately when attending court.