Tips from the Ex Parte Family Law Commissioners: Courtroom Etiquette

The King County Superior Court Family Law Ex Parte Commissioners would like to offer a few pointers for entering final papers and earning “gold stars” when appearing before one of the Commissioners:

  1. Just as your word is your bond, your reputation with the court is invaluable.
  2. Be professional and respectful to all, in and out of court. This will not only add to a fine professional reputation, but also will net you a large gold star.
  3. Argue the legal and relevant factual issues, not the personalities.
  4. Don’t lie. And don’t lie by omission. It’s your reputation on the line. See also CR 11.
  5. Take control of your client both in and out of the courtroom. Don’t clutter up the case or your argument with personal vendettas: edit irrelevant material. You can explain that the court will not consider irrelevant evidence and it only adds to the legal fees. Argue the law and the facts together, not in a vacuum.
  6. Remember that what comes around goes around.
  7. Although Family Law matters in Ex Parte rarely involve providing working papers, if you do have working papers for the Ex Parte Commissioner to read, it is your responsibility to make sure the Commissioners have received your working papers. There are frequent mix-ups, especially when working papers are submitted through the Clerk’s Office. Filing papers in the court file is not the same thing as submitting working papers to W325 (Seattle) or 1J (Kent). Please send the working papers to our designated rooms and not to the Judges’ Mailroom, which for some reason is the Bermuda Triangle for Ex Parte working papers. Sometimes we can just “foot” your matter to the end of the calendar, read the papers, and conduct the hearing — but sometimes we can’t.
  8. If you are appearing in the Ex Parte Department in person, it might be helpful to know that Ex Parte has set calendar times for some matters. The Seattle Courthouse has two commissioners, the Maleng Regional Justice Center has only one commissioner who handles all calendars and all walk-ins, as well as Ex Parte Via the Clerk matters. For those of you who also handle other matters: Please only note guardianship, trust, and probate motions for the 10:30 AM Guardianship, Trust and Probate Calendar, and not on the afternoon calendar, unless it is a Guardianship Review matter. All courtrooms are required to take a 15 minute recess in the morning and in the afternoon, as well as a lunch recess from noon until 1:30 PM. Ex Parte opens for the day at 9:00 AM and closes for the day at 4:15 PM. The current schedule for Ex Parte is:

9 AM                               Unlawful Detainer matters (Evictions)

9 AM                               Adoptions (Seattle only)

9 – noon                        Walk-ins

10 – 10:15  AM           Morning Recess

10:30 AM                     Guardianship, Trust and Probate Calendar

Noon to 1:30 PM       Lunch Recess

1:30 PM                         Self Represented Parties Dissolution Finalization Calendar

1:30 PM                         Adoptions (both Seattle and Kent)

1:30 PM                         Guardianship Review calendar (select days)

1:30 – 3:45 PM           Walk-ins

4:15 PM                         Ex Parte closes


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