After waiting many years to be summoned, I have now twice been picked as a Juror for cases in the King County Superior Court.
Where does the trial by jury originate? The US Constitution provides for a trial by jury in the Sixth Amendment (criminal cases) and Seventh Amendment (civil cases). Similarly, the Washington State Constitution likewise preserves the parties’ right to have a trial by jury.
How do I get summoned? One must be registered to vote to be called for jury service.
What’s involved? In King County, you will not have to wait around all week in the juror holding area. There is a “two day, one jury” rule in effect. If you have not been picked for a jury by the end of the second day, you will be excused. Likewise, once picked, you will be excused when that case is over. If the case is lengthy, you can ask to be excused based upon hardship.
Do I have to do it? You can be excused from service based upon economic or personal hardship. Your scheduled slot can be moved due to personal or work challenges, but you would get rescheduled. You must follow the court’s procedures to obtain an excused absence or reschedule.
Will I get paid? In Superior Court, you will only receive $10 per day (if your employer does not continue your regular pay in your absence, in which case the employer gets the $10).
Why should I bother? From my experiences both as a Juror and as a lawyer prosecuting civil cases to Juries, I can list many benefits, including:
- You are contributing to the administration of justice in your community by rendering independent judgment;
- You will enjoy observing a trial from start to finish and being called upon to deliberate with your fellow jurors as you render a verdict;
- You will feel like an important part of your community; and
- You will always remember the days you fulfilled your civic duty as a Juror.
Against this backdrop, I read with interest how Marine Corps General James Mattis (Ret.), a resident of the Tri-Cities who is under consideration for a cabinet post in the Trump administration, served last week on a Benton County District Court jury that returned a Not Guilty verdict at the end of a gross-misdemeanor trial. If General Mattis could find the time to “answer the call” to appear for Jury Duty, so can each one of us.
In advance, thank you for your service.