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Jury Duty

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P.O. Box 1220
Port Townsend,
WA 98368

Phone: 360.385.9125
Fax: 360.385.5672

Monday - Friday
8:30 to 4:30







A telephone jury scam is ongoing in Jefferson County.  Please do not give any personal information, and do not give any money to someone who calls you and tells you they work for the county, courts, or law enforcement.  Instead, please contact staff of the appropriate agency in person or by calling their listed local number, or make a report to law enforcement. 

Jefferson County residents are receiving a telephone call from someone who identifies himself as a Sheriff’s Lieutenant and tells them that Superior Court Judge Keith Harper has signed documents charging them with failure to appear for jury duty on October 3rd and contempt of court. People are told that they need to appear before Judge Harper on October 24th to answer these charges, and told they should make an online payment as an appearance bond via GreenDot MoneyPak.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  Please do not give or confirm any personal information, and do not make a payment online.  You do not need to appear on October 24th. There was no jury trial held on October 3rd.  This is a phishing scam.  You may call Ruth Gordon, County Clerk at 360-385-9128 for further information.

Why is jury duty important?
Jury service is an important civic responsibility.  The United States Constitution and the Washington State Constitution guarantees all people the right to trial by an impartial jury.  Justice ultimately depends in large measure on the jurors who serve in our courts.

What is my duty as a juror?
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. Your actions and decisions must be free of any bias or prejudice. You must apply the law given by the judge to the facts given during the trial to make a decision in a case.  For a general idea of how a jury trial is conducted, see “Jurors and Jury Trials: an Overview” below. 

How was I selected for jury duty?
You were selected at random from lists of voter registrations, driver registrations, and Washington State identification cards for residents of Jefferson County.

Jury eligibility:

  •  Pursuant to RCW 2.36.070, an eligible juror must be:

  • a citizen of the United States.

  • at least 18 years of age.

  • a resident of Jefferson County.

  • able to communicate in the English language.

  • of sound mind.

  • Additionally, you cannot serve on a jury if you have been convicted of a felony and your civil rights have not been restored.

If you are in doubt about your eligibility for jury service, contact the jury manager at 360-385-9131.

I just received a white Juror Qualification Form.  Now what?
As outlined in your Qualification Form, your term of service shall be for one-half a month (approximately two weeks).  Your Qualification Form will detail the specific dates that you need to be available to serve.  Please fill out and return the white questionnaire within five days.  If you are a few days late (for example, if you were out of town or forgot to check your mail box), please return it anyway. 

Deferrals/rescheduling term of service
If this time period does not work for you, you may request that your term be deferred to a later date, up to one year away.  On Line Item 10, suggest a better month (also whether you prefer the first half or second half of that month), and include a reason for this deferral. 

Medical exemption
If you are an “eligible” juror but feel that your medical/mental condition prevents you from serving as a juror, select “YES” on Line Item 8 and submit a doctor’s letter within 10 days.  Your doctor can fax a note to us at 360-385-5672.

Other excuses, hardships, inconveniences, etc.
If you are summonsed to appear for a specific jury trial/panel, you need to come to court at the designated date or time.  You are welcome to mention to the bailiff upon check-in that you hope to be excused.  The jury selection process will allow you the opportunity to explain your situation; if you are excused, you are free to go home.  Jurors will be excused only upon a demonstration of undue hardship or extreme inconvenience or for other reasons provided by law (see RCW 2.36.100 & 2.36.110). 

Showing up:  What is expected of me?
You are expected to make yourself available for service during the weeks designated in your Summons.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO APPEAR EVERY DAY.  If we need you to serve on a jury panel, we will send you a small, brightly-colored postcard telling you what day/time to appear.  Check your mail!  We try to give between 4 to 7 days’ notice.  On the day you’ve been asked to appear, please arrive on time as one late juror can affect an entire jury panel.

Call the night before!
The night before you are scheduled to appear, call to verify whether your jury trial has been cancelled or rescheduled.  You will find instructions on your postcard.  The number to call (any time after 5:00 p.m.) is 360-385-9131.

How long does a jury trial last?
Jury trials in Jefferson County generally range from one to four days; on occasion, they will go longer. Jurors are required to serve for the duration of a trial.

I keep checking my mail, but I haven’t received a postcard.
It is possible that your two-week term of service will come and go without you ever being called in to serve on a jury panel. 

What happens if I don’t show up on the day my postcard tells me to?
RCW 2.36.170 cites “A person summoned for jury service who intentionally fails to appear as directed shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”  If you fail to appear for your jury service, expect to receive a postcard in the mail which instructs you to make immediate contact with us to reschedule another block of jury service.

Are jurors paid for jury service?  Should my employer pay me?
Jurors are paid $15 per day of service plus mileage at the rate determined under RCW 43.03.060.  Be prepared to indicate your round-trip miles on your first day of jury service.  You should receive your check within approximately one month from the end of your service.
Your employer is not required to pay you while you are on jury duty. However, an employer shall provide an employee with a sufficient leave of absence from employment to serve as a juror when that employee is summoned pursuant to RCW 2.36.  

Reporting for duty: where should I go?
<Click here> for directions to Jefferson County Courthouse.  Take the elevator or stairs to the second floor.  Sign in/check in with the bailiff.  (District Court trials:  the bailiff will be signing in jurors in the jury room located just to the right of the elevator.  Superior Court trials:  The bailiff will be signing in jurors at a small table in the hallway.)  

Identification badges
Jurors will be issued Juror Identification badges. Badges should be worn in plain view at all times (including lunch) during jury service.

State law prohibits smoking in all parts of the Courthouse. Smoking is permitted outside the building; however, because of time limitations, there will not always be opportunities to go outside. 

What type of cases are heard by jurors?
Jurors may be selected for District or Superior Court cases.  These may be criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors (such as driving under the influence of alcohol) to felonies (such as assault, theft, drug-related crime and even murder); or they may be civil cases involving such matters as contracts, tort law, personal injury, etc.  Some types of cases are never heard before a jury, including family law, probates, domestic violence, and juvenile matters. 

Jurors and jury trials: an overview 

Selection of a jury: voir dire
After you have reported for jury duty, the jury panel is sent to the courtroom in which the case will be heard. The judge in the courtroom will explain the case and introduce the lawyers and other participants. Jurors will have an opportunity to request to be excused in open court.  Next, as part of jury selection, the judge and the lawyers will question the jury panel members to determine if anyone has knowledge of the case, a personal interest in it, or feelings that might make it hard to be impartial. This process is called "voir dire," a phrase meaning "to speak the truth." 

Questions asked during voir dire may seem personal but should be answered completely and honestly. The questions are not intended to embarrass anyone but are used to make sure that members of the jury do not have opinions or past experiences which might prevent reaching an impartial decision.  

During voir dire the lawyers may ask the judge to excuse a juror from sitting on the case. This is called "challenging a juror." There are two types of challenges: a challenge for cause and a peremptory challenge. 

A challenge for cause means the lawyer has a specific reason for thinking that a juror would not be impartial. For example, the case may involve driving under the influence of alcohol. If a juror had been in an accident with a drunk driver and was still upset about it, the defense attorney could ask that the juror be excused for that reason. There is no limit to the number of jurors who may be excused for challenge for cause. 

Peremptory challenges, on the other hand, do not require the lawyers to state any specific reason for excusing a juror.  Peremptory challenges are intended to allow lawyers, both prosecution and defense, to do their best to assure that the trial is fair. Peremptory challenges are limited to three per side in most cases.

Ultimately, a jury of 6 or 12 people will be selected; sometimes additional jurors are empanelled to allow for alternate jurors.  

Proper juror behavior
After swearing in the jury panel, the judge will admonish the jurors regarding the legal limitations of their role.  It is imperative that jurors follow the judge’s instructions to the letter or they may cause a mistrial, requiring the court to re-try the case.  DO NOT do any independent research into the facts of the case.  DO NOT Google, blog or text any comments about the proceeding while the trial is in progress. 

Order of Events in the Trial
After the jury is selected, the trial will generally follow this order of events: 

Opening Statements:  The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for the jury to decide. 

Presentation of Evidence:  The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge. Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations. The jury will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts; therefore, it is critically important that each juror is paying full attention to the proceedings at all times. The acceptability of juror note-taking will be determined by the judge. 

Rulings by the Judge: The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their jury verdict is based upon proper evidence, as determined by the judge under the Rules of Evidence. Jurors may give the evidence whatever weight they consider appropriate. 

Instructions to the Jury:  At the end of presentation of all the evidence, the judge will read the instructions to the jury, explaining the law and other considerations in the case. 

Closing Arguments:  After instructions, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments. If alternate jurors are part of the panel, the clerk will randomly select the name(s) of juror(s) to be sent home. Alternate jurors will be instructed not to discuss the case until they are informed by phone that the jury has reached a verdict. 

The Verdict:  After closing arguments, the jury is isolated to decide the facts in the case and reach a verdict.  The jury will elect a foreman to chair deliberations and present their verdict to the court.  12 jurors in Superior Court (or 6 jurors in District Court) will deliberate to reach consensus.  If the jury is unable to agree on their verdict, they will follow the instructions of the court. 

After the verdict is delivered, the attorneys may request that the jury be polled. Polling the jury involves each juror being asked whether he or she agrees with the verdict as presented to the court.  Shortly after the verdict is delivered, the jury will be released by the judge, with further instructions.   

Jurors may request a “proof of jury service” document from the jury manager.  Paychecks will be mailed two to five weeks after your service is complete.

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