Seattle Police Court Records, 1886-1956  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Washington (State). Municipal Court (Seattle)
Title
Seattle Police Court Records
Dates
1886-1956 (inclusive)
Quantity
311 volumes
Collection Number
5601
Summary
Dockets, logs, and indexes of cases heard in Seattle's Police Court.
Repository
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
98124-4728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-233-7807
Fax: 206-386-9025
archives@seattle.gov
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Seattle’s Police Court was the forerunner to the current Municipal Court. The first judicial officer for Seattle was appointed by the City Council in 1875 from among the King County Justices of the Peace serving the Seattle Precinct. In 1886, a charter amendment made each Seattle Precinct Justice a Police Justice with jurisdiction over ordinance violations. The 1890 Freeholders Charter officially established a Police Court in the city. This provision was repealed in 1892, after an 1891 state law created a Municipal Court system that included a Justice Court and Police Court.

The Police Court was a “court of limited jurisdiction” under the purview of the city of Seattle. (In contrast, the county was the parent agency for the Justice Court.) One of the justices of the peace in the Seattle Precinct was appointed to serve on the Police Court in addition to his duties on the Justice Court. The Police Court heard violations of state law that occurred within the city limits, as well as violations of City ordinances. It dealt with misdemeanors, traffic offenses, minor civil suits, and small claims, and also heard liquor-related cases during Prohibition.

The court was called by varying names over the years. Before 1891, it seems to generally have been known as the Police Court. From 1891 to 1897, it was called the Municipal Court, and then again was referred to as the Police Court until 1928, when it was once again called the Municipal Court. It retained that name from then on, except for 1954-1955, when it was called the Municipal Police Court.

The currently constituted Municipal Court was created in 1955 under Chapter 290 of the Washington State Laws. It has exclusive original jurisdiction over violations of all city ordinances, collects fines and forfeitures relating thereto, and hears cases related to misdemeanor defined by State statute that occur within the City limits. Municipal judges are elected by the qualified electors of the City of Seattle.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Court dockets, indexes, and case summaries relating to cases heard in the Police Court. Series are described more fully below.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], [Title of collection], Record Series 5601-[XX]. Volume [number], Page [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

5601-01:  Police Court Dockets, 1886-1956Return to Top

241 volumes

Summary of cases heard in Police Court involving violations of Seattle’s criminal codes. Each case includes a docket number, date, defendant’s name, offense, plea, costs, and disposition of the case. By the 1910s, witnesses, complainants, and bail were often also included. The earliest cases include a narrative account of the progression of the case, but in 1889 the courts started using forms for easier entry of information.

The first eight volumes overlap in time with the next eight, through October 14, 1890. The system changed from having two or more judges to one on October 15, 1890, and after this date, the volumes run sequentially until the end of the series. After 1926, the dockets are available only on microfilm. The first 15 microfilm reels do not correspond directly to volume numbers, but cases can be accessed by date. Volume 162 and volumes 178 through 223 were filmed one volume per reel and are numbered identically with the corresponding volume.

Some of the most common offenses listed in the early volumes are drunkenness, vagrancy, and disorderly conduct, with prostitution and fighting also making frequent appearances. Traffic violations appear on a large scale beginning in the 1920s. Some of the more unusual offenses include driving across a fire hose, using profane language, and “riding a horse in a public street at a fast rate of six miles an hour.”

Container(s) Description Dates
Volume
No number
City Docket
1886/08-1888/04
A1
City Docket
1888/04-1888/12
No number
City Docket
1888/12-1889/05
H
City Docket
1889/05-1889/10
No number
City Docket
1889/10-1890/01
No number
Justice Court
1890/01-1890/05
4
City Docket
1890/05-1890/08
No number
City Docket
1890/08-1890/10
6
City Docket
1887/01-1888/08
7
City Docket
1888/08-1889/04
No number
City Docket
1889/04-1889/09
4
Police Docket
1889/09-1889/12
5
Justice Docket
1889/12-1890/04
6
Justice Court
1890/04-1890/06
7
Justice Court
1890/06-1890/09
8
Justice Court
1890/09-1890/10
1
Police Court Criminal Docket
1890/10-1890/11
2
Police Court Criminal Docket
1890/11-1890/12
3
Police Court Criminal Docket
1890/12-1891/02
4
Police Court Criminal Docket
1891/02-1891/02
1
Municipal Court Docket
1891/03-1891/06
2
Municipal Court Docket
1891/06-1891/09
3
Municipal Court Docket
1891/09-1891/12
4
Municipal Court Docket
1891/12-1892/03
5
Justice Docket
1892/03-1892/06
6
Justice Docket
1892/07-1892/10
7
Justice Docket
1892/10-1892/12
H
Municipal Court Docket
1893/01-1893/01
K
Municipal Court Docket
1893/05-1893/08
No number
Municipal Court Docket
1893/08-1893/12
L
Municipal Court Docket
1893/12-1894/05
No number
Municipal Court Docket
1894/05-1894/10
No number
Municipal Court Docket
1894/10-1895/03
16
Municipal Court Docket
1895/03-1895/11
17
Municipal Court Docket
1895/11-1896/11
18
Municipal Court Docket
1896/11-1897/07
19
Police Court Criminal Docket
1897/07-1898/02
20
Police Court Criminal Docket
1898/03-1898/07
21
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1898/07-1898/12
22
Justice Dockets
1898/12-1899/05
23
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1899/05-1899/10
24
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1899/10-1900/03
25
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1900/03-1900/07
26
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1900/07-1900/11
27
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1900/11-1901/03
28
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1901/03-1901/07
29
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1901/07-1901/11
30
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1901/11-1902/04
31
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1902/04-1902/09
32
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1902/09-1903/01
33
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1903/01-1903/06
34
Police Court Criminal Dockets
1903/06-1903/11
35
Police Court Docket
1903/10-1904/05
36
Police Court Docket
1904/05-1904/10
37
Police Court Docket
1904/10-1905/03
38
Police Court Docket
1905/03-1905/07
39
Police Court Docket
1905/07-1905/12
40
Police Court Docket
1905/12-1906/04
41
Police Court Docket
1906/04-1906/08
42
Police Court Docket
1906/08-1906/12
43
Police Court Docket
1906/12-1907/04
44
Police Court Docket
1907/04-1907/07
45
Police Court Docket
1907/07-1907/10
46
Police Court Docket
1907/10-1908/01
47
Police Court Docket
1908/01-1908/05
48
Police Court Docket
1908/05-1908/08
49
Police Court Docket
1908/08-1908/11
50
Police Court Docket
1908/11-1909/02
51
Police Court Docket
1909/02-1909/06
52
Police Court Docket
1909/06-1909/09
53
Police Court Docket
1909/09-1909/12
54
Police Court Docket
1909/12-1910/04
55
Police Court Docket
1910/04-1910/07
56
Police Court Docket
1910/07-1910/10
57
Police Court Docket
1910/10-1910/12
58
Police Court Docket
1910/12-1911/01
59
Police Court Docket
1911/01-1911/03
60
Police Court Docket
1911/03-1911/06
61
Police Court Docket
1911/06-1911/10
62
Police Court Docket
1911/10-1911/12
63
Police Court Docket
1911/12-1912/03
64
Police Court Docket
1912/03-1912/07
65
Police Court Docket
1912/07-1912/10
66
Police Court Docket
1912/10-1913/01
67
Police Court Docket
1913/01-1913/04
68
Police Court Docket
1913/04-1913/06
69
Police Court Docket
1913/06-1913/08
70
Police Court Docket
1913/08-1913/10
71
Police Court Docket
1913/10-1913/11
72
Police Court Docket
1913/11-1914/01
73
Police Court Docket
1914/01-1914/03
74
Police Court Docket
1914/03-1914/05
75
Police Court Docket
1914/05-1914/07
76
Police Court Docket
1917/07-1914/10
77
Police Court Docket
1914/10-1914/12
78
Police Court Docket
1914/02-1914/02
79
Police Court Docket
1915/02-1915/05
80
Police Court Docket
1915/05-1915/07
81
Police Court Docket
1915/07-1915/11
82
Police Court Docket
1915/11-1916/03
83
Police Court Docket
1916/03-1916/05
84
Police Court Docket
1916/05-1916/10
85
Police Court Docket
1916/10-1917/01
86
Police Court Docket
1917/01-1917/05
87
Police Court Docket
1917/05-1917/08
88
Police Court Docket
1917/08-1917/10
89
Police Court Docket
1917/10-1918/01
90
Police Court Docket
1918/01-1918/04
91
Police Court Docket
1918/04-1918/06
92
Police Court Docket
1918/06-1918/09
93
Police Court Docket
1918/09-1918/11
94
Police Court Docket
1918/11-1919/01
95
Police Court Docket
1919/01-1919/03
96
Police Court Docket
1919/03-1919/05
97
Police Court Docket
1919/05-1919/07
98
Police Court Docket
1919/07-1919/09
99
Police Court Docket
1919/09-1919/11
100
Police Court Docket
1919/11-1919/12
101
Police Court Docket
1919/12-1920/01
102
Police Court Docket
1920/01-1920/03
103
Police Court Docket
1920/03-1920/04
104
Police Court Docket
1920/04-1920/06
105
Police Court Docket
1920/06-1920/07
106
Police Court Docket
1920/07-1920/09
107
Police Court Docket
1920/09-1920/10
108
Police Court Docket
1920/10-1920/12
109
Police Court Docket
1920/12-1921/01
110
Police Court Docket
1921/01-1921/03
111
Police Court Docket
1921/03-1921/04
112
Police Court Docket
1921/04-1921/06
113
Police Court Docket
1921/06-1921/08
114
Police Court Docket
1921/08-1921/09
115
Police Court Docket
1921/09-1921/12
116
Police Court Docket
1921/11-1922/01
117
Police Court Docket
1922/01-1922/03
118
Police Court Docket
1922/03-1922/04
119
Police Court Docket
1922/04-1922/06
120
Police Court Docket
1922/06-1922/07
121
Police Court Docket
1922/07-1922/09
122
Police Court Docket
1922/09-1922/10
123
Police Court Docket
1922/10-1922/12
124
Police Court Docket
1922/12-1923/01
125
Police Court Docket
1923/01-1923/03
126
Police Court Docket
1923/03-1923/04
127
Police Court Docket
1923/04-1923/05
128
Police Court Docket
1923/05-1923/06
129
Police Court Docket
1923/06-1923/08
130
Police Court Docket
1923/08-1923/09
131
Police Court Docket
1923/09-1923/10
132
Police Court Docket
1923/10-1923/10
133
Police Court Docket
1923/10-1923/11
134
Police Court Docket
1923/11-1923/12
135
Police Court Docket
1923/12-1924/02
136
Police Court Docket
1924/02-1924/03
137
Police Court Docket
1924/03-1924/04
138
Police Court Docket
1924/04-1924/05
139
Police Court Docket
1924/05-1924/06
140
Police Court Docket
1924/06-1924/07
141
Police Court Docket
1924/07-1924/09
142
Police Court Docket
1924/09-1924/09
143
Police Court Docket
1924/09-1924/11
144
Police Court Docket
1924/11-1924/12
145
Police Court Docket
1924/12-1925/01
146
Police Court Docket
1925/01-1925/02
147
Police Court Docket
1925/02-1925/03
148
Police Court Docket
1925/03-1925/04
149
Police Court Docket
1925/04-1925/06
150
Police Court Docket
1925/06-1925/07
151
Police Court Docket
1925/07-1925/04
152
Police Court Docket
1925/04-1925/10
153
Police Court Docket
1925/10-1925/10
154
Police Court Docket
1925/10-1925/11
155
Police Court Docket
1925/11-1925/12
156
Police Court Docket
1925/12-1926/01
157
Police Court Docket
1926/01-1926/02
Reel
1
Police Court Dockets
1926/02-1926/08
2
Police Court Dockets
1926/08-1926/12
3
Police Court Dockets
1926/12-1927/05
5
Police Court Dockets
1927/10-1928/04
6
Police Court Dockets
1928/04-1928/11
7
Police Court Dockets
1928/11-1929/07
8
Police Court Dockets
1929/07-1930/03
9
Police Court Dockets
1930/03-1930/11
10
Police Court Dockets
1930/11-1931/11
11
Police Court Dockets
1931/08-1932/05
12
Police Court Dockets
1932/05-1933/03
13
Police Court Dockets
1933/03-1933/12
14
Police Court Dockets
1933/12-1934/06
15
Police Court Dockets
1934/09-1935/03
162
Police Court Docket
1927/04-1927/08
178
Police Court Docket
1934/11-1935/03
179
Police Court Docket
1935/03-1935/12
180
Police Court Docket
1935/12-1936/08
181
Police Court Docket
1936/08-1937/04
182
Police Court Docket
1937/04-1937/11
183
Police Court Docket
1937/11-1938/07
184
Police Court Docket
1938/07-1939/03
185
Police Court Docket
1939/03-1940/02
186
Police Court Docket
1940/02-1940/12
187
Police Court Docket
1940/12-1941/08
188
Police Court Docket
1941/08-1942/03
189
Police Court Docket
1942/03-1942/08
190
Police Court Docket
1942/08-1943/01
191
Police Court Docket
1943/01-1943/06
192
Police Court Docket
1943/06-1943/11
193
Police Court Docket
1943/11-1944/05
194
Police Court Docket
1944/05-1944/10
195
Police Court Docket
1944/10-1945/02
196
Police Court Docket
1945/02-1945/06
197
Police Court Docket
1945/06-1945/10
198
Police Court Docket
1945/10-1946/02
199
Police Court Docket
1946/02-1946/06
200
Police Court Docket
1946/06-1946/11
201
Police Court Docket
1946/11-1947/04
202
Police Court Docket
1947/04-1947/09
203
Police Court Docket
1947/09-1948/01
204
Police Court Docket
1948/01-1948/06
205
Police Court Docket
1948/06-1948/12
206
Police Court Docket
1948/12-1949/05
207
Police Court Docket
1949/05-1949/10
208
Police Court Docket
1949/10-1950/04
209
Police Court Docket
1950/04-1950/09
210
Police Court Docket
1950/09-1951/02
211
Police Court Docket
1951/02-1951/06
212
Police Court Docket
1951/06-1951/11
213
Police Court Docket
1951/11-1952/03
214
Police Court Docket
1952/03-1952/09
215
Police Court Docket
1952/09-1953/02
216
Police Court Docket
1953/02-1953/07
217
Police Court Docket
1953/07-1954/01
218
Police Court Docket
1954/01-1954/07
219
Police Court Docket
1954/07-1955/01
220
Police Court Docket
1955/01-1955/07
221
Police Court Docket
1955/07-1956/01
222
Police Court Docket
1956/01-1956/07
223
Police Court Docket
1956/07-1956/12

5601-02:  Police Court General Indexes, 1891-1956Return to Top

36 volumes

Indexes to the Police Court Dockets (5601-01) list the defendant’s name, the volume or docket number in which the case appears, and the page number of the volume. (The first volume lists only the defendant’s name and case number.) Each volume indexes between 3 and 21 dockets; within each index volume defendants are organized by first letter of their last name and then listed in order of their case number.

Container(s) Description Dates
Volume
No number
General Index Municipal Court
1891-1892
No number
General Index Municipal Court
1893-1902
X
General Index
1902-1907
2
General Index
1907-1910
3
General Index
1910-1911
4
General Index
1911-1914
5
General Index
1914-1917
6
General Index
1917-1919
7
General Index
1919-1921
8
General Index
1921-1923
9
General Index
1923
10
General Index
1923-1925
11
General Index
1925
12
General Index
1925-1926
13
General Index
1926-1927
14
General Index
1927-1928
15
General Index
1928-1929
16
General Index
1929-1931
17
General Index
1931-1933
18
General Index
1933-1934
19
General Index
1934-1936
20
General Index
1936-1938
21
General Index
1938-1941
22
General Index
1941-1942
23
General Index
1942-1943
24
General Index
1944-1945
25
General Index
1945-1946
26
General Index
1946-1947
27
General Index
1947-1949
28
General Index
1949-1951
29
General Index
1951
30
General Index
1952
31
General Index
1953
32
General Index
1954
33
General Index
1955
34
General Index
1956

5601-03:  Minute Books, 1894-1911Return to Top

15 volumes

This series contains summary information of cases heard in Police Court and corresponds to the Police Court Dockets (5601-01). It was probably used to compute the final costs related to the cases. Includes date, case number corresponding to Police Court Docket case number, name of defendant, offense, names of attorneys, names of witnesses, plea, and judgment. Cases that were continued for two or more days have listings for each day they came before the judge. This record was compiled by the clerk of the court.

Container(s) Description Dates
Volume
1
Minute Book
1894/05-1894/12
2
Minute Book, Municipal Court
1894/12-1895/09
3
Minute Book, Municipal Court
1895/11-1897/04
4
Minute Book, Municipal Court
1897/04-1898/07
5
Minute Book, Municipal Court
1898/07-1899/09
6
Minute Book, Police Court
1899/09-1900/08
7
Minute Book, Police Court
1900/08-1901/07
8
Minute Book, Police Court
1901/07-1902/10
9
Minute Book, Police Court
1902/11-1904/06
10
Minute Book, Police Court
1904/06-1906/01
11
Minute Book, Police Court
1906/01-1907/03
12
Minute Book, Police Court
1907/03-1908/02
13
Minute Book, Police Court
1908/02-1909/04
14
Minute Book, Police Court
1909/04-1910/08
15
Minute Book, Police Court
1910/08-1911/02

5601-04:  Police Judge’s Journal, 1897-1920Return to Top

19 volumes

This is a log of cases heard in Police Court and corresponds to the Police Court Dockets (5601-01). It includes summary information: date, name of defendant, offense, bail, plea, names of prosecution witnesses, and judgment. Beginning with Volume 5, the entries include a “sheet number” which corresponds to the “blotter number” in the Police Court Dockets. The Police Judge’s Journal does not include case numbers as found in the Dockets. This series appears to be a daily record maintained by the Judge during the course of hearings and trials. Cases that were continued for two or more days have listings for each day they came before the judge.

Container(s) Description Dates
Volume
No number
Municipal Judge's Docket
1897/03-1898/01
No number
Police Judge's Docket
1898/01-1898/10
No number
Police Judge's Docket
1898/10-1899/10
No number
Police Judge's Journal
1899/10-1901/01
No number
Police Judge's Journal
1901/01-1902/08
No number
Police Judge's Journal
1902/08-1904/08
No number
Police Judge's Journal
1904/08-1906/08
No number
Police Judge's Journal
1906/08-1907/11
2
Police Judge's Journal
1907/11-1908/12
3
Police Judge's Journal
1908/12-1910/03
4
Police Judge's Journal
1910/03-1911/03
5
Police Judge's Journal
1911/03-1912/11
6
Police Judge's Journal
1912/11-1914/02
7
Police Judge's Journal
1914/02-1915/05
8
Police Judge's Journal
1915/05-1917/01
9
Police Judge's Journal
1917/01-1918/06
10
Police Judge's Journal
1918/06-1919/08
11
Police Judge's Journal
1919/08-1920/05
12
Police Judge's Journal
1920/05-1920/07

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Crime--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Law enforcement--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Municipal courts--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Court records--Washington (State)--Seattle