Jury Duty Information
Welcome to jury duty at Thurston County District Court. The information below will explain what jury duty entails, describe the process, and let you know what the Court is doing to keep you safe during the pandemic.
Trial by jury is a right guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington. We hope you find this honorable service rewarding.
How was I chosen for jury duty? 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. 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.
Who is eligible for jury duty? To be eligible for jury service, 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.
Do I have to respond to the jury summons? RCW 2.36.170 states, "A person summoned for jury service who intentionally fails to appear as directed shall be guilty of a misdemeanor." Please respond to your summons. The justice system in Washington State cannot function without citizens willing to serve on jury duty. As one juror said, "if everyone tried to dodge jury duty, then what?"
How do I reschedule jury duty? Look at your jury summons form. There will be a telephone number to call, or an address to which you can write, so that you may request that your service is rescheduled, if necessary, to a more convenient time.
Who can be excused from serving? 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 unusual hardship if required to serve, or are unable to serve for other legitimate reasons. People at high risk for COVID-19 may also be excused. Call the jury administrator at (360) 754-4107 to ask about being excused.
What if I have a disability? For disability accommodation, contact the jury administrator at (360) 754-4107.
What if I am caring for a dependent child or adult? We would appreciate it if you would reschedule your jury service to another date when you can make necessary care arrangements rather than asking to be excused. Contact the jury administrator at (360) 754-4107 to reschedule your service.
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.
How much do jurors get paid? Thurston County pays jurors $10 per day. Jurors are also eligible for mileage reimbursement.
How long does jury duty last? District Court jurors will participate in juror orientation and jury selection on their first day of jury duty. If seated, you will come to court the second day for the actual trial. District Court trials usually last only one day, but sometimes run into a second day. Once you have served on one trial, you are excused for the rest of the week.
You may be surprised by how much waiting you have to do. For example, you may have to wait before you are placed on a jury. During the 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 the trial. Your understanding is appreciated.
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 or medical purposes. It's a good idea to bring a sweater, just in case.
What can I bring with me to jury duty? The ideal item to bring with you is a book or a magazine, although sometimes the court will restrict newspapers or magazines containing information that may relate to an upcoming trial. Because security is taken very seriously, everyday items like penknives, knitting needles, scissors, or metal nail files cannot be brought into the 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 happens if I'm late? As the trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present, it is important that you are on time. If you are unavoidably delayed, please call the court at 360-786-5450 as soon as you know you will be late.
What if I have an emergency? Because your absence could delay a trial, it is important that you report each day you are required to. If a real emergency occurs — a sudden illness, accident, or death in the family, call the court at 360-786-5450 as soon as you can.
Can I go home during the trial? Yes. District Court does not sequester juries. But remember, you cannot discuss the case with anyone or do any research on the case.
Will I be searched when I come to the courthouse? You will have to empty your pockets and place your personal items in a bucket, then walk through a metal detector. If you can't go through the detector, let the court security officer on duty know and they will help you.
How long does a trial usually take? Most District Court trials last one day; sometimes, they will last for two.
What type of case might I hear? Jury cases are either criminal or civil, but most of them are criminal.
A criminal case is brought by the city or county against one or more persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the city or county is the plaintiff; the accused person is the defendant.
A civil case is brought by an individual or a corporation against another for monetary damages.
What happens during a trial? Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the judge. The standard order of events begins with jury orientation and the selection of the jury on the first day. The second date is the actual trial at the courthouse. That day you will hear opening statements, presentation of evidence, jury instructions, and closing arguments. Then your will deliberate and, once a verdict is reached, the foreperson will announce the verdict in court. Sentencing may or may not occur that same day, but you are welcome to watch that if you are interested.
What happens during jury selection? The 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. This 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. 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.
What is the role of the juror? Your job as a juror is to listen to all the evidence presented at trial, then decide the facts. The judge's job is to decide the law and make decisions on legal issues that come up during the trial. 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, prejudice, or personal preference. It is vital that you be impartial with regard to all testimony and ideas presented at the trial.
What are alternate jurors? One additional juror is chosen (the "alternate") in the event that any members of the jury are unable to complete the trial for some reason. Alternate jurors participate in the trial proceedings but do not take part in deliberations unless they have been called to replace members of the jury.
Can I take notes during the trial? Yes, you may take notes in all trials if you wish. The judge will explain the procedure.
Can I ask the witnesses questions during the trial? In civil trials, you may propose questions for the witness. In criminal trials, you may only propose questions for the witness if the judge gives you permission. The judge will explain the procedure.