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Bellingham Municipal Court Information

Judge Debra Lev

The mission of the Bellingham Municipal Court is to administer the operations of the judicial branch of City government in a neutral and effective manner and ensure access to justice for all citizens. ~ Judge Debra Lev

Security Screening Upon Entry

Every person who enters the Bellingham Municipal Courthouse through the Lobby entrance will go through security and weapons screening overseen by the Court Security Staff. At this time, the only persons exempt from screening are sworn Law Enforcement Officers and attorneys who have applied for and been issued by-pass photo ID badges. (Note: By-Pass badges are only issued to practicing attorneys upon completion of a criminal history records check by the Bellingham Police Department and payment of a $75 issue fee.)

These items are not allowed in the Courthouse:

  1. Firearms
  2.  Potential weapons including: pocket knives, pepper spray, corkscrews, laser pointers, tools (i.e., tape measures), etc.
  3.  Contraband and illegal items including: knives, brass knuckles, tasers, drugs, drug paraphernalia, etc.
  4.  Alcohol

If You Bring Contraband Items

To ensure a smooth entry into the Courthouse Building, it is best not to bring any of the above listed items. If you do bring any of these items to the Courthouse Building, you will be required to remove the item from the building. All persons with a valid concealed weapons permit may check in their firearms to a locked storage box while they are in the Courthouse.

Types of Cases

The most common criminal cases heard in the Bellingham Municipal Court include assault, malicious mischief, theft, driving under the influence of intoxicants (“D.U.I.”), trespassing, violation of protective orders, driving with a suspended license, disorderly conduct, and minor in possession or consumption of alcohol. Many of the Court’s cases involve domestic violence. The Court also hears thousands of civil infractions, primarily involving traffic and parking violations, each year.

Court Schedule

The Bellingham Municipal Court currently holds seventeen regular court sessions, or calendars, each week. Search the state database to Find My Court Date.

Weekly Schedule - Effective July 1, 2013

Start Time
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
8:30 a.m. Jail Jail Jail Jail Jail
9:00 a.m.   Jury Trial      
9:30 a.m.   Traffic      
9:45 a.m. Arraignments     Arraignments Arraignments
1:30 p.m. Pre-trial Pre-trial  Probation Domestic Violence/Traffic Traffic
2:30 p.m.     Motions    

Jurisdiction

The Bellingham Municipal Court has jurisdiction over violations of the Bellingham Municipal Code, including both criminal matters and civil infractions, committed in the City of Bellingham. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction over impoundment decisions of the City’s Hearings Examiner. The Whatcom County Superior Court has jurisdiction over felonies committed within the City of Bellingham.

Judicial Officers

Judge Debra Lev
Judge Lev became Bellingham’s first elected Municipal Court Judge in January, 2002. She previously served as the Court’s Commissioner for four years. Judge Lev has also managed a private law firm and served as a Deputy District Attorney. She has lived and practiced law in the Bellingham area since 1990. Judge Lev received a degree in Communications from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and graduated from Stetson University’s College of Law.

Commissioner Pete Smiley
Commissioner Smiley was appointed by Judge Lev in January, 2003. Commissioner Smiley previously served as an Assistant City Attorney, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, and Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington. He was raised in Bellingham, and graduated from Sehome High School. Commissioner Smiley received a degree in Government from Cornell University and graduated from Cornell Law School.

Judges Pro Tem
Judges pro tem are appointed by Judge Lev to serve as substitute judges. Judges Pro Tem for the Bellingham Municipal Court include:

Court Programs

Domestic Violence Court

Warrant Surrender Policy

Volunteer Courtesy Call

Alternatives to Incarceration

Deferred Findings

Proactive Compliance Reviews

Court Rules

Before you enter a courtroom please follow these simple expectations: no food or drinks are permitted in the courtroom, remove hats, remove gum, turn off cell phones and pagers, keep feet off the furniture, rails, or benches. Proper attire is appreciated. Please be on time and be courteous to other participants while waiting for your case to be called. If possible, please try to arrange for child-care outside of court for any infants or young children.

There are two courtrooms in the Bellingham Municipal Court Building. Courtroom One is the large courtroom on the ground floor. Courtroom Two is the smaller courtroom on the second floor. The bulletin board near the public entrance indicates which courtroom will be used for each case. Additionally, in-custody cases are typically heard at the Whatcom County Jail’s courtroom starting at 8:30 a.m. weekdays. Victims and other parties who are interested in watching the in-custody cases may do so via two-way closed circuit television from the In-Custody Viewing Room on the basement floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse at 311 Grand Avenue.

It is not necessary to check in at the clerk’s window before your case is called. However, the clerk’s window, located on the ground floor near the public entrance to the Bellingham Municipal Court Building, is available for people who would like to ask questions, file pleadings including applications for the appointment of assigned counsel, or to arrange or make payments.

If you are unable to attend a scheduled court session or are unsure of the scheduled time or date for your hearing, please contact the court clerks at the Municipal Court as soon as possible. Failure to appear in court for a required appearance typically results in the issuance of a bench (arrest) warrant in criminal cases and a finding of “committed” in infraction cases.

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