Seattle Youth Traffic Court

What is the Seattle Youth Traffic Court?

  • Seattle Youth Traffic Court (youth court) is the first youth court to be offered in Seattle.
  • Youth Court is a diversion process in which youth from Garfield High School sentence their peers who have received actual traffic tickets in Seattle.
  • Youth under the age of 18 without prior traffic violations are offered the opportunity to be sentenced by the youth court.
  • Operating under restorative justice principles, Garfield High School students conduct monthly hearings and sentence their peers using creative sentencing.
  • Youth completing their sentences have their tickets dismissed, and no report is made to the Department of Licensing.
  • It received the 2012 Seattle Youth Civic Education Award from the Seattle CityClub.

How Does the Seattle Youth Traffic Court Work?

  • Garfield students serve as judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, jury, and court staff.
  • The court conducts up to ten hearings once per month in two courtrooms at the Seattle Municiple Court.
  • Dispositions generally include service on future youth court juries.
  • The Garfield defense attorney then mentors the defendant to ensure completion of the disposition.
  • SU law students develop policies, provide training, help the Garfield students prepare cases, manage the cases, and help with the hearings.

Why Should Law Students Get Involved?

  • Learn extensive legal content about civil procedure and traffic-related laws.
  • Develop leadership skills through program management and youth mentorship.
  • Get experience collaborating with many different partners including youth, teachers, and judges.
  • Hone legal skills by managing court processes.
  • Develop grant-writing, systems creation, and policy making skills.

What Kind of Commitment Do Law Students Need to make to Be Involved?

  • Students must commit to approximately two to four hours per week, with hearings and training to be held at a regular time and day of the week, generally on Mondays.
  • Hearings occur once monthly on the third or fourth Monday of the month.
  • Trainings occur the first or second Monday of the month.
  • Additionally, the advisory board meets every other week or once monthly on Mondays when there are no hearings or trainings.
  • Food is served at all sessions.

How Do I Apply and Who Do I Contact for More Information?

  • Contact Margaret Fisher, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and director of Youth Court to apply by emailing her at

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