Kitsap Courthouse’s New System Running ‘Very Smoothly’

A move to push Kitsap County’s felony cases through the justice system more efficiently has seemingly gone off without a hitch.

“Day one went very smoothly,” Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge said of Monday.

As you may recall, the plan for the county’s courthouse was to route all cases — misdemeanors and felonies — through district court for preliminary, or first, appearances. This new method gives all parties involved — including the defendant — an additional 30 day clock to decide whether to proceed to trial or plead guilty.

If felony defendants fight the charges, then they’ll be placed on a superior court calendar and the case will proceed toward trial. But if they wish to plead guilty, then their first appearance before a superior court judge would be to plead guilty, and likely, be sentenced. The old system might include numerous appearances before the superior court bench, eating up time for all involved.

The new process began Monday. Maury Baker, Kitsap County’s District Court administrator, echoed Hauge’s sentiment that things are going well so far.

They’d planned to have it up and running Jan. 1 this year. It was delayed to March.

And there’s one more thing they haven’t implemented yet — the video system. In the coming months, all jailed defendants will make appearances on video from the jail, rather than be chained together with other defendants and placed in the superior court’s jury box for their first appearance.

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