Rantz: In emergency move, courthouse closes street entrance over Seattle crime

Dec 3, 2019, 6:08 AM | Updated: 11:05 am
catch and release, 3rd Avenue, King County Courthouse...
King County Courthouse in Seattle. (Dyer Oxley, KIRO Radio)
(Dyer Oxley, KIRO Radio)

The King County Courthouse has closed the busy 3rd Avenue entrance in downtown Seattle after a seemingly endless string of crimes impacting staffers and jurors. The emergency amendment was added to the court’s security process.

Presiding Judge James Rogers issued the emergency amendment late Monday afternoon, days after yet another assault outside the court’s 3rd Avenue entrance by a prolific offender.

Police allege Frank Hypolite randomly attacked a defense attorney walking on the sidewalk. KOMO News reporter Matt Markovich reports Hypolite has been arrested five times previously on the same block as the courthouse, including two assaults at an emergency shelter across the street.

Citing the safety concerns on 3rd Avenue, Judge Rogers declared:

The safety conditions at the Third Avenue entrance to the courthouse have deteriorated, jeopardizing the public safety of any attempting to enter or leave. This Court receives constant reports of assault committed against litigants, jurors, attorneys, members of the public, and employees. The safety conditions of the fact of discouraging and denying access and therefore justice to all who would seek it from the Court. It discourages jury service.

The closure is effective immediately and will last through January 1, 2020 and they figure out a plan to address the ongoing issues.

The crime is driven primarily by the city’s out-of-control homeless problem. Mayor Jenny Durkan says she’s handling the issue, though does nothing but offer scripted one-liners to media outlets that ask her for a plan.

Meanwhile, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes refuses to enforce basic laws. As a consequence, the park next to the courthouse has become an active open-air drug market and prolific offenders are assaulting the public with impunity. Cops have had minimal impact, not being allowed to make arrests that keep criminals in jail.

The most detailed plan offered by the City to address the issue? Ping pong. Seriously. After several high profile crimes in 2018, retiring Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshaw recommended “inclusive” ways to address the concerns, like installing a ping-pong table. I’m seriously not joking.

King County Council is doing the work Seattle leaders refuse to do. Next Tuesday, December 10, the King County Government and Oversight (GAO) Committee will hear testimony about the safety concerns.

“I have advocated directly to Mayor Durkan to increase the City’s police presence around the courthouse,” County Councilman Rod Dembowski said in a statement. “Unfortunately, security remains a serious concern with inadequate attention and action to date.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Rantz: In emergency move, courthouse closes street entrance over Seattle crime