Client: King County Superior Court
King County Courts hired GoodSide to produce this video on navigating the court’s rooms and rules, and representing yourself in court.
Here’s a testimonial from Judge Mary Yu on our work:
“I just want to thank you again for your superb assistance in helping us develop a video to help self-represented litigants navigate their way through our court system. Your patience and dedication to helping us translate some complicated legal concepts into a “communicable” message demonstrated the value of using a professional film company such as GoodSide.”
Judge Yu: Hello, I’m Judge Yu, I’ll be taking you on a tour through the courthouse, and showing you how to get your case ready for trial.
Judge Gonzalez: And I’m Judge Gonzalez, I’ll be highlighting the courtroom procedures once you filed your paperwork, and are ready to appear for court.
Judge Yu: A lawsuit usually starts when you serve or are served with legal papers called a petition or a complaint. On these legal papers, you will find what’s called the case designation. It tells you in which court house the case was filed, and where your case will likely be heard. You should try to get a lawyer to assist you, there are many resources available.
A: Hi, I’m calling because I’m trying to take a case to court for modification of child support.
Judge Yu: If you are unable to get an attorney, and wish to proceed on your own, also known as appearing pro se, there are self help resources you should know about that will be discussed in this video. Once you know which courthouse to go to, it is important to know how to navigate through the courthouse. Here at the RJC there’s a map hanging on the wall before you go through security, and it can help you find where you are going if you already know your courtroom assignment. The first thing you need to do where every time you enter the courthouse is go through security. Courthouse security is much like airport security, you will need to place any bags on the conveyor belt and remove any metal from your pocket before passing through the metal detector. Here is a list of things that you may not bring into the courthouse.
The clerk’s office is where originals of all of the papers for a case are filed. It is here that you can look up your case and see the documents that have been filed. The courthouses also have law libraries where you can do legal research. You can use their computers to access helpful self-help legal website, like Washingtonlawhelp.org. After you are done writing your motion and completing the note for motion form, you should make copies and file the original at the clerk’s office. After filing the original with the clerk’s office, you should then file another copy for the judge to review. This copy is called working papers, and it must be delivered to the judge’s mailroom. Before filing it you should write in the top right hand corner of the motion the judge’s name and the date you scheduled your motion to be heard.
Judge Gonzalez: If the case doesn’t settle, you will need to appear in court for the trial. Some people get nervous when speaking in front of a judge. To be prepared, you should make sure to bring copies of your court documents, a proposed order, a written outline of what you want to say, and pen and paper to take notes.
Judge: Are the parties ready to proceed in the matter of Gomez versus Johnson?
Judge Gonzalez: You should stand when you address the court.
A: Yes, your Honor.
B: Yes, your Honor.
Judge Gonzalez: The judge will invite the parties to explain what they want the court to decide. Generally the person who requested the hearing will speak first.
A: Your Honor, I’m here today to ask that the court consider my request for modification child support.
Judge Gonzalez: Then the other party will have a chance to speak and respond.
B: No, your Honor, I’m not in agreement.
Judge Gonzalez: When the other party is arguing, it helps to take notes of what you want to say in response to the judge. The judge may ask you questions while you speak, it is important to listen carefully to the judge’s questions and answer with truthful answers.
B: No, your Honor.
Judge Gonzalez: Remember to address the judge as your Honor. If the judge asks you questions that you do not know the answer to, or can’t remember fully, tell the judge “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”, don’t guess. If you’re appearing in court for a trial, and are presenting exhibits, you should give the exhibits to the clerk in the courtroom so that he can mark them with numbers, then ask the judge to admit the exhibits. The judge will determine whether she can consider it under the law.
Judge: Those will be exhibit number two.
Judge Gonzalez: When you and the other party are finished arguing to the judge, and the judge does not have any more questions, she will usually make her decision and let the parties know.
Judge: I find, based on the support calculation that an appropriate amount of child support . . .
Judge Gonzalez: When the judge says her decision, it is up to the parties to take good notes. The parties then take those notes and put them into the form of an order for the judge to sign.
Judge Yu: This concludes our tour of the King County Superior Court, and highlights of representing yourself in a lawsuit. We invite you to look at our website for links to self-help information and legal resources.