‘I watch my back’: Judge orders main King County Court entrance closed after violence

SEATTLE – "Dangerous." That’s how a King County Court official describes the areas near the courthouse in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood after a recent vicious assault was caught on camera directly outside the facility.

That incident was the last straw for the county’s Superior Court Presiding Judge, who is calling for more police to protect the public.

It’s not just the judge complaining, it’s also courthouse employees, jurors and even the public.

The latest assault spurred the presiding judge to close the main entrance until security gets an upgrade.

Third Avenue through Pioneer Square is nearly always busy. The main courthouse entrance also shares curb space with King County Metro buses.

But those coming court Tuesday found a sign at the main entrance saying it has been closed until further notice.

“It’s been getting more and more dangerous,” said Judge James Rogers. “I watch my back.”

Rogers says the vicious assault caught on camera was the last straw in a wave of recent attacks.

“Right now, we need more funding,” he said. “We need to keep 4th Avenue open and we need Seattle city police to be present on 3rd avenue. Their presence takes the temperature down.”

The county council chair says he too wants to see more SPD officers patrolling the area.

Seattle Police told Q13 News that foot-beat officers work along the courthouse main entrance – they also get help from cops on bicycles.

Plus, now that the main entranced has been closed lines sometimes form at the choke points.

“I keep my head up and I’m watching everything that’s going by,” said Melissa Brown, who only visits downtown Seattle if she must.

“It’s dangerous down here,” she said. “I watch reports on the news, people are getting attacked.”

Plus, there are those who worry some causing the problems are not being held accountable and instead are allowed to cycle through the criminal justice system only to return back on the street.

But Rogers says it’s not always that simple.

“I’m not going to address an individual case here, but clearly there are some people with very serious drug addiction problems,” said Rogers. “You know, this is not a homeless problem.”

The county council wants to hear from people who have witnessed or even experienced the crime or violence during next week’s scheduled meeting.

The council also plans to work with law enforcement and others to put an end to the increasing number of attacks.