INFORMATION FOR JURORS
SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR JURORS DURING COVID-19
Thank you for answering the call to jury duty. Juror participation is essential to our justice system. We also understand that prospective jurors have unique challenges and concerns during this time. The judges take the health of all court users and community members very seriously and are following public health guidelines in their use of court facilities. All Superior Court staff working with jurors are fully vaccinated.
EXCUSE FROM SERVICE DUE TO HIGH-RISK FACTORS
If you or a household member fall under any of these categories and you wish to be excused from jury service at this time, please return the completed summons with that request.
THE JURY SELECTION
PROCESS - HOW YOU WERE CHOSEN
Judges and employees of Washington courts are committed to making jury service accessible to everyone. Though some courthouses are outdated and do not meet modern American Disability Act standards, attempts to accommodate all jurors will be made. Remember: If you have a hearing, sight or mobility problem, ask a member of the court staff for help.
What about my job?
Washington law says employers "shall provide an employee with sufficient leave of absence from employment when that employee is summoned" for jury duty. It also says employers "shall not deprive an employee of employment or threaten, coerce, or harass an employee or deny an employee promotional opportunities" for serving as a juror. It does not say your employer has to pay you while you serve.
What if I have an emergency?
Because your absence could delay a trial, it is important that you report each day as required by the court. If a real emergency occurs--a sudden illness, accident or death in the family--tell the court staff immediately so that the trial can be scheduled around you.
What types of cases may I hear?
Jury cases are either criminal or civil.
Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies or other organizations. Usually, the party that brings the suit is asking for money damages for some alleged wrong that has been done. For example, a homeowner may sue a contractor for failure to fix a leaky roof. People who have been injured may sue the person or company they feel is responsible for the injury.
The party that brings the suit is the plaintiff. The one being sued is called the defendant. There may be a number of plaintiffs or defendants in the same case.
A criminal case is brought by the state or a city or county against one or more persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the state, city, or county is the plaintiff; and the accused person is the defendant. The defendant is informed of the charge, or charges called a complaint or information.
What happens during a trial?
Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the judge. Heres the usual order of events:
Some dos and donts
Thank you for your service.
Skagit County Superior Court Judges
Brian L. Stiles, Judge
Laura M. Riquelme, Judge
Elizabeth Y. Neidzwski, Judge
Thomas L. Verge, Judge
A Jurors Guide
Welcome to jury service!
Your job as a juror is to listen to all the evidence presented at trial, then "decide the facts" decide what really happened. The judges job is to "decide the law" make decisions on legal issues that come up during the trial. All must do their job well if your system of trial by jury is to work.
You do not need special knowledge or ability to do your job. It is enough that you keep an open mind, use common sense, concentrate on the evidence presented, and be fair and honest in your deliberations.
Remember: Dont be influenced by sympathy or prejudice. It is vital that you be impartial with regard to all testimony and ideas presented at the trial.
We hope you find your experience as a juror interesting and satisfying. Thanks for you willingness to serve!
How was I chosen?
First, your name was selected at random from voter registration and drivers license and "identicard" records. Then, your answers to the juror questionnaire were evaluated to make sure you were eligible for jury service.
To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a resident of the county in which you are to serve as a juror, and you must be able to communicate in English. If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you must have had your civil rights restored. Those eligible may be excused from jury service if they have illnesses that would interfere with their ability to do a good job, would suffer great hardship if required to serve, or are unable to serve for other legitimate reasons.
In short, you were chosen because you are eligible and able to serve. You are now part of the "jury pool" a group of citizens from which trial juries are chosen.
In the courtroom, your judge will tell you about the case, then introduce the lawyers and others who are involved in it. You will also take an oath, in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully.
After youre sworn in, the judge and the lawyers will question you and other members of the panel to find out if you have any knowledge about the case, any personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard for you to be impartial. The questioning process is called voir dire, which means "to speak the truth."
Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. If you are uncomfortable answering them, tell the judge and he/she may ask them privately.
Remember: Questions are not asked to embarrass you. They are intended to make sure members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences which might prevent them from making an impartial decision.
How long will I serve?
How many days and hours you work as a juror depends on the jury selection system in your county. The judge may vary daily working hours to accommodate witnesses who have special travel or schedule problems.
You may be struck by how much waiting you have to do. For example, you may have to wait before you are placed on a jury. During trial, you may have to wait in the jury room while the judge and the lawyers settle questions of law.
Judges and other courtroom personnel will do everything they can to minimize the waiting both before and during trial. Your understanding is appreciated.
Can I go home during the trial?
Usually. But in extremely rare cases, you may be "sequestered" during the trial or during jury deliberations. This is done to assure that jurors dont hear or see something about the case that wasnt mentioned in court.
Might I be called but not sit on a jury?
Yes. Sometimes parties in a case settle their differences only moments before the trial is scheduled to begin. In such instances you will be excused with the thanks of the court.
What should I wear?
Dress comfortably. Suits, ties and other, more formal wear are not necessary. But dont get too informal beach wear, shorts, halter or tank tops are not appropriate in court. Hats may not be allowed unless worn for religious purposes.