Prosecutors Headed Back to Traffic Court


Every day in King County District Court, dozens of traffic citations are thrown out, often over technicalities and with little regard for whether the law was actually broken.

The court’s chief judge, Barbara Linde, cringes when it happens.

“Motions to dismiss are granted one after another,” the judge said Wednesday, and it’s mostly because the King County Prosecutor’s Office doesn’t staff traffic court. Casual courtroom visitors have complained that “it looks like the fix is in,” she said.

Defendants who showed up with an attorney to contest the tickets were met “with an empty chair” at the prosecution table. Often, judges had no choice but to dismiss cases because nobody was there to respond to a legal challenge, regardless of its merit.