OLYMPIA – Thurston County District Court, with a mission statement of “Serving Justice through Serving People”, along with the other municipal courts in Thurston County, are working together to implement three new initiatives aimed at helping defendants work through the process more quickly saving time and money while getting them back on track and back to their lives.
Text Message Reminders to Defendants
On May 1, defendants who signed up began receiving text messages, available in either English or Spanish, reminding them of their hearing dates one week, three days, and one day prior to the hearing.
“This small change can make a huge impact,” said Jennifer Creighton, District Court Administrator. “Other jurisdictions across the country have seen anywhere from a 20-60 percent reduction in failures to appear. This saves on rescheduling, issuing warrants for failure to appear, and time, allowing for a faster case filing to case disposition process.” Additionally, fewer warrants means fewer people in jail, saving the county money.
Interjurisdictional Warrant Quash Program
Beginning on April 2, 2018, all courts in Thurston County, aside from Superior Court, entered into the Interjurisdictional Warrant Quash program. This allows for a defendant to quash a warrant received in another jurisdiction.
For example, if a defendant has a warrant in Olympia but is at District Court for another case, the defendant can quash the Olympia warrant and be issued a hearing date in Olympia Municipal Court to deal with the case. This gets the defendants back handling their cases and saves officer time and jail time.
Unified Payment Program
Defendants in district and municipal courts in Thurston County, Pierce County, King County, and Snohomish County, and some courts in Lewis County will soon be able to create a single payment plan if they have fines due in any or all of these courts. If they have multiple legal financial obligations, this program puts the payments into a single, manageable payment plan making the probability of repayment much higher.
“This is a really great program because once a defendant enters into this program and creates a payment plan, they can get restrictions on their license dropped and get their license back,” said Thurston County District Court Presiding Judge Brett Buckley. “License suspension for financial inability to pay disparately impacts minority communities. People participating are able to go back to their jobs and homes and hopefully minimize the disruption in their lives. It also lowers the number of warrants and arrests for driving while license suspended, which really serves our whole community.”
Thurston County District Court continues to look for innovative ways to help move defendants through the system and get them back to their lives as quickly as possible while still serving justice.