Skip to main content

External Agency and Court Hearings

About

Per DOC 590.500 Legal Access for Incarcerated Individuals (pdf), each facility has a Legal Liaison Office that will be your point of contact for the telephonic/virtual hearing at the facility level and will arrange and schedule telephonic/virtual hearings requests for the following:

DOC does not use staff to facilitate the following, please refer to the following link for options to complete these activities:

  • Court actions related to misdemeanor crimes
  • Civil matters such as dissolution, protection orders, small claims, etc.
  • L&I mediations, hearings
  • Attorney-client communications
  • Child dependency proceedings/meetings not specified
  • Other requests not authorized above

Attorney/Client Communication

Attorneys can communicate with individuals by phone, email, postal mail or in-person visits.

  • Phone: DOC does assist with arranging calls between attorneys and incarcerated individuals. The only way for attorneys to schedule phone meetings is by sending written notice to the incarcerated individual.
  • Email: Incarcerated individuals have access to email through the JPay system. JPay emails sent to and from attorneys are never confidential and are not treated as legal mail.
  • United States Postal Service: Legal mail is confidential. However, not all mail sent from law offices qualifies as legal mail.
  • In-person: Attorneys may also schedule in-person professional visits with incarcerated individuals.

Attorneys who wish to notify their clients of a date and time to call their office may contact the Legal Liaison Office where the individual is housed via email or phone. The staff will send a kiosk message to the individual for the requested call information. Please note that they are unable to include any other information outside of the appointment information.

Types of Hearings

The Department of Corrections has created processes to provide telephonic and virtual hearing options to reduce unnecessary transportation costs and enhance community safety. Though there will still be times when an in-person appearance is warranted, many proceedings can be provided through telepresence options.

DCYF, DSHS and Child Dependency Issues

The Department of Corrections understands the importance of providing avenues for parents to be involved with issues surrounding their children during incarceration. As we collaborate with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the Department of Social & Health Services/Division of Child Support (DSHS/DCS) and child dependency agencies outside of Washington State, we offer telephonic/virtual services for the following:

  • Child dependency hearings associated with termination of parental rights
  • Emergency shelter hearings (when possible)
  • Child support modification/abatement

DOC will not accommodate:

  • Permanency planning
  • Attorney-Client communications
  • Social/Case worker interactions
  • Other requests not authorized above

In-Person Hearing

The department continues to process requests for in-person appearances. When court orders are received to transport, DOC will transport individuals as requested.

As a courtesy, please provide 10-14 days advance notice to allow time to assess our transportation schedules.

Virtual Hearing

The department has worked to identify a virtual hearing process for incarcerated individuals to be present for court-mandated arraignments, trials, and hearings. DOC 590.500 Legal Access for Incarcerated Individuals (pdf) states we will accept requests from the court (i.e., clerks, prosecutors, etc.). After it was shared that many judges are delegating the work of filling out DOC 02-027 Virtual/Telephonic Hearing Request (MS Word) to defense attorneys, we have granted a policy exception to accept forms from our defense partners for child dependency and State v. Blake cases only. All other requests must be received from the court and/or prosecutor.

A staff member will be present to connect the individual with the court using the video and passcode links provided on the request form and to troubleshoot connection issues or support additional needs of the court.

Incarcerated individuals are not authorized to have access to state computers to operate themselves, as it poses a risk to the state’s secured network.

If you have interpreter needs, please arrange for your own interpreter prior to the hearing. DOC 450.500 Language Services for Limited English Proficiencies (pdf) provides interpreter services for internal actions and are not available for external court needs.

The court will need to provide a virtual “breakout room” for the defense counsel and individual to have privileged and confidential communication, if needed. The assisting staff member will operate the link to allow the individual to move into the breakout room and to rejoin court as needed.

Fingerprinting and notary services can be done by DOC personnel on camera. According to Washington State Association of County Clerks (WSACC), fingerprints can be done after the hearing with the clerk on camera to witness the prints and to ensure the prints are from the right individual. However, we understand the WSACC is working on a “Special Deputized Clerk” that will be onsite to handle paperwork, take the minutes and observe fingerprinting on court documents.

Engrossed Senate Bill 5476, once signed, exempts the fingerprint requirements for amended judgment and sentences pursuant to State v. Blake only when there are no additional offenses of conviction from the original judgment and sentence and when the defendant is in custody with DOC.

All signed, completed documents will be scanned and originals mailed to the County Clerk following the hearing.

Upon request, DOC will fingerprint the individual for new charges on behalf of the county jail. This request can be noted on DOC 02-027 Virtual/Telephonic Hearing Request (MS Word) when scheduling the hearing. If requested, please provide the Court ORI #.

Options for Court Actions Not Facilitated Through Corrections

For actions that will not be scheduled/facilitated through DOC due to limited resources, courts still can support participation of incarcerated individuals. Many courts will provide a direct call-in line to the court that individuals can connect through the available phone system. The individual then communicates with staff letting them know when they need to to make the call using the provided phone system. Calls are limited to 20 minutes, but they do have the ability to call back in through the direct dial line to complete their participation. Contact the facility liaison via the liaison mailbox for more information.

Scheduling

Prison facilities are managing an increasing number of telephonic and virtual hearing requests due to the pandemic. Through this process many have elected to continue utilizing telephonic and virtual options to reduce costs, prevent exposures to our jails and prisons, and more importantly, to improve public safety.

Staff resources and platform abilities are limited to services mandated by DOC 590.500 Legal Access for Incarcerated Individuals, as demands continue to grow for telepresence services in many areas. The hearing stations may vary in type and location. Some have the privacy of a single person booth; others may be in staff offices or conference rooms. This will be determined by the number of hearings occurring and available resources for the day of the request.

Each facility has a Legal Liaison Office that will be your point of contact for the telephonic/virtual hearing at the facility level. Counselors will not accept any requests and will provide you the information for the appropriate liaison.

Process

The Court official/designee will complete DOC 02-027 Virtual/Telephonic Hearing Request (MS Word), ensuring the request is filled out completely so the appropriate resources can be made available for the request. We must have the correct video link and information regarding need for notary, documents, and fingerprinting when the request is submitted.

If the video link is not provided in advance, DOC will not schedule the request.

The DOC 02-027 Virtual/Telephonic Hearing Request (MS Word) form must be received seven days in advance of the requested appearance (includes weekends, holidays). Submit the form to the Legal Liaison Office mailbox where the individual is housed. You can check an individual’s current housing location on the department website. The liaison will confirm availability to the court within one business day after receipt of the request form.

Documents necessary for the hearing should either be sent to the incarcerated individual via US mail prior to the hearing or emailed to the liaison mailbox along with the request form. Staff will not have the ability to print documents during the hearing. Any documents that are created during or after the court actions will need to be printed following the hearing.

Fingerprinting and notary services can be accommodated following the hearing. We can have these activities occur following the hearing on camera to be witnessed by the court clerk.

Resources

Policies

Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies that apply to External Agency and Court Hearings.

Forms

Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) forms that apply to External Agency and Court Hearings.