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Video: Jury Duty

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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.  

Skagit County Superior Court, in conjunction with the county’s Facilities Management Division, has worked throughout the pandemic to ensure the safest possible experience for jurors and other users of court facilities during this time period.  The courthouse is cleaned with disinfected regularaly.  Hand sanitizer is provided throughout the courthouse and the jury trial courtroom.  

Unless specifically ordered by the court, masks are not required. Jurors can request a mask or bring their own if they so choose. In response to the pandemic, a large courtroom has been created and approved by the health department to allow for greater distancing during jury selection. 

If you or one of your household members is medically immunocompromised (such as on chemotherapy, a transplant patient, or with an immune deficiency) or has a documented medical contra-indication to the COVID-19 vaccine, your jury service may be deferred until a later date when COVID-19 is less of a public health concern. If you request to be excused from jury duty for those reasons, please fill out the “Juror Questionnaire” on your summons and return it to Superior Court for consideration of your request. 

In addition to the above precautions, Superior Court has ordered that no person who is showing signs of illness or who feels ill may enter the court facilities.  We understand that you do not know in advance what your health status will be on the date of the trial.  Before coming to the courthouse each day, we ask that each juror make an assessment of their health status and that of their household members and other individuals with whom they have had close contact. 

If a juror or their household member tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibited symptoms associated with COVID-19 within 5 (five) days of the trial, that person may not physically enter the courtrooms or offices of Superior Court unless they are not symptomatic and are wearing a KN-95 (or higher grade) face masks.  The flowchart adopted by Skagit County Superior Court for making entry and masking decisions following exposure, symptoms, and/or positive testing for COVID-19 can be seen here.  

If any of these factors apply to you at the time of your jury service, DO NOT come to the courthouse.  If this occurs during the period of your jury service, please call (360) 416-1200 for further instruction related to your jury service.

Superior Court has ample signage and staff to assist everyone when they report for jury service.  Jurors will report to Courtroom 5 that has been prepared to accommodate greater distancing during the pandemic.  Courtroom 5 is located in the building to the immediate west of the Superior Court building.   Signage will be clearly posted outside the entrances to the main courthouse directing you to the area where you will check in. 

Jurors will go through the security screening and then check in with court staff where they will be assigned their jurors numbers and given further instructions. 

Court staff will guide jurors throughout the day to create a smooth process and safe environment.

The Superior Court Judges and staff thank you for your willingness to serve and your understanding of these additional procedures and precautions to enable the justice system to move forward as seamlessly as possible while also protecting the health of this community.

The courts use a call-in system with a recorded message to inform you when and where to report, or tell you when to call in again. Please listen to the entire message carefully. Begin calling the weekend immediately before your term of service. Call anytime after 5:00 P.M. or as instructed on the recorded message. Please keep trying until you reach the recorded message. The call-in number is 360-336-2188.

To request a hardship excuse from jury service, please review your Jury Summon and make your request in writing on the questionnaire in the “Excuse Request” box. You may attach a separate piece of paper if you need more room. You may request to RESCHEDULE your jury service if you qualify as a juror. Your postponement request should be made prior to your currently scheduled date. This can be postponed to a time you choose within the next 12 months. Jury duty may only be rescheduled once. Please include your juror number and the date you would like to begin.

If an emergency occurs – a sudden illness, accident, or death in the family that prevents you from serving – you should tell the court staff immediately, or call (360) 416-1200 Skagit County Superior Court.

Once per year, Washington Technology Solutions in Olympia merges the voter registration, driver’s license, and “identicard” records, creating a new list of names for Skagit County.  This list is called the “jury source list”.  Your name was selected at random from this list of names.  For additional information about the jury source list please see  RCW 2.36.054 and  GR 18 Jury Source List .

It is the policy of this court to assure that persons with disabilities have equal and meaningful access to the judicial system. Please contact Superior Court Manager Michelle Cook at 360-416-1206.

bullet Frequently Asked Questions
bullet Jurors Guide

(Frequently Asked Questions)

If I’m physically challenged….?

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

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.

Criminal cases

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. Here’s the usual order of events:

  1. Selection of the jury
  2. Opening statements
  3. Presentation of evidence
  4. Jury instructions
  5. Closing arguments
  6. Jury deliberations
  7. Announcement of the verdict

Some do’s and don’ts

During trial:

DO arrive on time and DO return promptly after breaks and lunch. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.

DO pay close attention. If you cannot hear what is being said, raise your hand and let the judge know.

DO keep an open mind all through the trial.

DO listen carefully to the instructions read by the judge. Remember that rulings from the bench do not reflect the judge’s personal views.

DON’T try to guess what the judge thinks about the case. Remember that rulings from the bench do not reflect the judge’s personal views.

DON’T talk about the case, or issues raised by the case with anyone—including other jurors—while the trial is going on, and DON’T let others talk about the case in your presence, even family members. If someone insists on talking to you or another juror about the case, please report the matter to a court employee. These rules are designed to help you keep an open mind during the trial.

DON’T talk to the lawyers, parties, or witnesses about anything. This will avoid the impression that something unfair is going on.

DON’T try to uncover evidence on your own. Never, for example, go to the scene of an event that was part of the case you are hearing. You must decide the case only on the basis of evidence admitted in court.

DON’T let yourself get information about the case from the news media or any other outside source. Even if news reports are accurate and complete, they cannot substitute for your own impressions about the case. If you accidentally hear outside information about the case during trial, tell a member of the court staff in private.

DON’T take notes during the trial unless the judge gives you permission to do so.

During deliberation:

DO work out differences between yourself and other jurors through complete and fair discussions of the evidence and of the judge’s instructions. DON’T lose your temper, try to bully, or refuse to listen to the opinions of other jurors.

DON’T mark or write on exhibits or otherwise change or injure them.

DON’T try to guess what might happen if the case you have heard is appealed. Appellate courts deal only with legal questions-they will not change your verdict if you decided the facts based on proper evidence and instructions.

DON’T draw straws, flip coins or otherwise arrive at your verdict by chance, or the decision will be illegal. It is also improper for a jury to determine damage awards by averaging the amounts calculated by each individual juror.

DON’T talk to anyone about your deliberations or about the verdict until the judge discharges the jury. After discharge, you may discuss the verdict and the deliberations with anyone, including the media, the lawyers, or your family. But DON’T feel obligated to do so-no juror can be forced to talk without a court order.

Thank you for your service.

Skagit County Superior Court Judges

Brian L. Stiles, Judge
Department 1

Laura M. Riquelme, Judge
Department 2

Elizabeth Y. Neidzwski, Judge
Department 3

Thomas L. Verge, Judge
Department 4


Six-year term
Appeals from the Court of Appeals
Administers state court system

Six-year terms
Division I, Seattle
Division II, Tacoma
Division III, Spokane
Appeals from lower courts except those in jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

Four-year terms
30 judicial districts
Civil matters, Domestic relations, Felony criminal cases, Juvenile matters, Appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction

Four-year terms
District and Municipal Court
Misdemeanor criminal cases
Traffic, non-traffic, and parking infractions
Domestic violence protection orders
Civil actions of $50,000 or less, Small claims


A Juror’s 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 judge’s 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: Don’t 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 driver’s 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.

What’s next?

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 you’re 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 don’t hear or see something about the case that wasn’t 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 don’t 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.