Presiding Judge Gregory grants motions to dismiss 37 Prostitution cases and 73 Driving While License Suspended cases

Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge Willie Gregory recently granted several motions from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office: the first to quash bench warrants, close, and dismiss 37 outstanding Prostitution cases; the others to quash bench warrants, close, and dismiss a total of 73 outstanding Driving While License Suspended in the 3rd Degree (DWLS 3) cases.

The motion to close or dismiss the outstanding Prostitution cases was granted September 16, 2021. Warrants issued for these cases were quashed, and the cases were closed and dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be re-filed in the future. The sole charge in these cases was Prostitution, with the oldest warrant issued more than twenty years ago and the most recent issued in 2019.

Prostitution charges are infrequently filed in Seattle Municipal Court; there were seven charges filed each in 2017 and 2018, 20 charges in 2019, and no charges in 2020, as shown in this online data report. The people who had warrants dismissed and their cases closed were notified via mail.

The three motions to close or dismiss outstanding DWLS 3 cases were granted on October 21, October 28, and October 29, 2021. Warrants issued for these cases were quashed, and the cases were closed and dismissed with prejudice, meaning that they cannot be re-filed in the future. The cause for the license suspension in all cases was failure to pay a traffic ticket or failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket.

DWLS 3 is a criminal violation that can be charged when a person drives while their license is suspended. Until recently, driver’s licenses could be suspended due to the driver failing to pay or failing to appear in court for a civil moving violation, such as speeding or driving through a stop sign.

In its motions, the City Attorney’s Office cited a 2021 decision from Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson that ruled that the DWLS 3 statue was “unconstitutional as applied to individuals who are indigent and is therefore void and unenforceable.” Following Judge Wilson’s ruling, the Department of Licensing (DOL) discontinued license suspensions resulting from a person’s failure to pay or appear in court for non-criminal moving violations.

The people who have had warrants dismissed and their cases closed will be notified via mail.

Anyone who has an outstanding warrant in Seattle Municipal Court can visit the court’s website for information on resolving the warrant. If the warrant is under $10,000, the person or their attorney can submit a Motion to Quash warrant form via email, mail, or in person to request that a judge quash the warrant or set a hearing to address the warrant.