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Nearly 10,000 warrants in Seattle. Only 20 showed up for free help

Yesler Community Center
City of Seattle Photo
Yesler Community Center

The thousands of people facing Seattle Municipal Court arrest warrants got a chance to straighten things out Thursday, but only 20 of them showed up.

That result wasn’t unexpected, according to the organizers with the court and the defender’s office.

The event at the Yesler Community Center was deliberately chill, said Seattle Municipal Court Chief Clerk John Sattler.

No police, just an opportunity to meet with public defenders and court employees, get some advice and a court date.

“So we can go over their options, let them know how they can easily resolve these matters if possible, and also connect them with a public defender and a lot of other services that the court provides,” Sattler said.

Doing this at the Yesler center is meant to get away from the courthouse to a place that’s more centrally located for people the court is trying to reach.

And there are a lot of them – 9,400 active warrants, the court said, and it costs the city money to track these people down.

Most warrants are for things like theft and criminal trespass. Sattler said that often those cases won’t result in jail time, unless someone fails to appear.

And that can happen for a lot of reasons – maybe the person is homeless and isn’t notified of a court date, or maybe the person is just scared.

Sattler said there will be more events in the future.

A similar effort is under way in Lynnwood. That city is offering an amnesty through December.