HOW ARE JURORS CHOSEN?
Jurors are chosen from selecting names at random from voter registration and driver's license and "identicard" records. The answers to the juror questionnaires are then evaluated to make sure each juror was eligible for jury service.
To be eligible, a juror must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United Sates, a resident of the county in which the juror is to serve, 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. Once chosen, a juror becomes part of the "jury pool" - a group of citizens from which trial juries are chosen.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE COURTROOM?
In the courtroom, the judge will tell the jury panel about the case for which they have been called to court. The lawyers and others who are involved will be introduced. The jurors will also take an oath, in which they promise to answer all questions truthfully.
After the jury panel is sworn in, the judge and the lawyers will question the members of the jury panel to find out if any juror has any knowledge about the case, any personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard for the juror to be impartial. This questioning process is called voir dire, which means, "to speak the truth."
HOW LONG DO JURORS SERVE?
The number of days and hours a juror works depends on which court you report to. Most trials in District Court and in Superior Court last one or two days. Some trials do last longer, depending on the type of case and number of witnesses.
In Grays Harbor County, the County Clerk handles jury administration. The "jury pool" is divided into panels of approximately 15 to 30 persons each. One or more panels as needed are called in for service in the courts for the scheduled jury trials. You will likely be called only once before your term is up, unless there are a large number of trials.
The jury selection process is designed to reduce juror waiting time. However, before and during trial you may be required to wait in the jury room while the judge and the lawyers settle questions of law. Judges and court personnel will do everything they can to minimize any waiting that occurs both before and during trial.
WHAT SHOULD JURORS WEAR?
Jurors should 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. Please feel free to bring a sweater or jacket the courtroom can be cool some days.
DO THE COURTS ACCOMMODATE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED JURORS?
The judges and employees of Grays Harbor County courts are committed to making jury service accessible to everyone. Though some areas of the courthouse are outdated and may not meet modern standards, attempts to accommodate all jurors will be made. If any juror has a hearing, sight or mobility problem, ask a member of the court staff for help.
WHAT ABOUT A JUROR'S EMPLOYMENT?
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 any 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 TYPES OF CASES DO JURORS HEAR?
Jury cases are either criminal or civil.
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, by a written document called a complaint or information.
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 called the plaintiff, the one being sued is called the defendant. There may be a number of plaintiffs or defendants in the same case.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A TRIAL?
Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the judge may change the order. Here's the usual order of events:
Selection of the jury
Presentation of evidence
Announcement of the verdict
WHERE DO I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT JURY SERVICE IN GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY?
Jury administration is a part of the office of the County Clerk. Contact the Clerk's office at the County Courthouse in Montesano, Tel. (360) 249-3842.
DISTRICT COURT LOCATIONS IN GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY
County Courthouse, Room 202A
102 W. Broadway
Montesano, WA 98563
Tel. (360) 249-3441 Fax (360) 249-6382
Pearsall Building,Room 201
2109 Sumner Ave.
Aberdeen, WA 98520
Tel. (360) 532-7061
Fax (360) 532-7704
A JUROR'S GUIDE
A juror's job 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 our system of trial by jury is to work.
A juror does not need special knowledge or ability. It is enough that jurors keep an open mind, use common sense, concentrate on the evidence presented, and be fair and honest in deliberations.
Jurors should not be influenced by sympathy or prejudice. It is vital that jurors be impartial with regard to all testimony and ideas presented at the trial.
If you are called as a juror, we hope you will find your experience interesting and satisfying. Thanks for your willingness to serve.
This brochure was prepared for you by the judges and staff of Grays Harbor County District Court. The District Court is here to serve you. If you have any questions about its operations, please don't hesitate to ask a staff member