Bellingham Municipal Court Judge Debra Lev announced that beginning today (July 13, 2021), the Bellingham Municipal Court Building will be open for some in-person Court calendars, as COVID-19 restrictions end.
On June 22, 2021, Judge Debra Lev ordered that the Bellingham Municipal Court Building would be open for court calendars on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons commencing on July 13, 2021. Those in-person court sessions involve hearings for criminal defendants who are not in custody. Due to COVID concerns, the Court will continue to allow telephonic hearings during those calendars, but in-person appearances are now available. Masks and compliance with other safety measures will be required to attend in-person. The Court will continue to operate its in-custody calendars via closed-circuit television and by telephone on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Court has used video conferencing and telephonic hearings to hold hearings safely during the pandemic, and broadcasts hearings live via its website and YouTube to ensure public access. Lev said the partial reopening of the Court Building for in-person hearings is consistent with Governor Jay Inslee’s directives for statewide reopening and guidance from state and local health officials.
“I have been working with our limited Court staff to develop procedures to provide the greatest access to justice possible for the citizens of Bellingham, consistent with public safety, for some time,” Judge Lev said. “Protecting visitors and staff remains a priority. However, a citizen’s right to their day in court should not be impeded by COVID or other obstacles if hearings can be done safely. Now that vaccines are available and contagion rates are greatly reduced, the time has come to reopen the Court. I look forward to the day when our Court can fully and safely reopen to serve the people of Bellingham without restrictions.”
For information, visit the Bellingham Municipal Court webpage at cob.org/court