Your name was selected at random from voter registration and driver's license and "identicard" records. Your answers to the juror questionnaire were evaluated to ensure you were eligible for jury service.
Note: Occasionally you may be summoned for jury duty more than once in any given year. This is because your name may appear differently on your voter registration than it does on your driver's license. The system then reads you as two people. You are entitled to be excused if this occurs. Simply complete your profile and check the appropriate box on the back of the summons, which asks for the approximate date of your prior service. Mail in your summons and wait for written confirmation from the Clerk's office.
To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a resident of Kitsap County, and be able to communicate in English or American Sign Language*. 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.
Some requests to be excused from jury duty may be handled by court staff; however, in some instances, this decision must be made by the Judge. If you feel you would suffer undue hardship by serving, please complete and return your summons, report at your scheduled time, and you will have the opportunity to ask the Judge to excuse you if you are selected to serve.
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.
*Accommodations are available for hard of hearing and deaf jurors through interpreters and use of assistive technology.
In the courtroom, your judge will tell you about the case and 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 ask you and other members of the panel questions to find out if you have any knowledge about the case, personal interest in it, or 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 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.
In Kitsap County, jurors are summoned for a one-week term. However, that does not mean you will spend the entire week at the courthouse; jurors are "on-call" for jury duty for any trial starting during their term of service. Once selected for a jury panel, a trial may extend beyond this term. If you are not selected for a panel after reporting, your obligation is fulfilled.
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.
Usually. But, in extremely rare cases, you may be "sequestered" during the trial or during jury deliberations. This is done to ensure that jurors don't hear or see something about the case that wasn't mentioned during court.
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.
Dress comfortably. Suits, ties, and formal wear are not necessary; however don't get too informal. Beachwear, shorts, halter or tank tops are not appropriate in court. Hats may not be allowed unless worn for religious purposes.
Judges and employees of Kitsap County courts are committed to making jury service accessible to everyone. Accommodations in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be made to assist jurors with special needs. If you have a hearing, sight, or mobility problem, ask a member of the court staff for assistance.
Washington law states that an employer "shall provide an employee with sufficient leave when the employee is summoned for jury duty". It also states that employers "shall not deprive an employee of employment; shall not threaten, coerce, or harass an employee; and shall not deny promotional opportunities" to an employee for serving as a juror.
Note: The law does not state, however, that your employer must pay you while you serve.
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—inform the court staff immediately.
Jury cases are either civil or criminal.
Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, government, government agencies, or other organizations. Usually, the party that brings the suit is asking for compensation for an alleged wrong. 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 party being sued is called the defendant. There may be a number of plaintiffs or defendants in the same case.
A criminal case is brought by the state, a city or a county, against one or more persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the state, city, or county is the plaintiff; the accused person is the defendant. The defendant is informed of the charge through a complaint or information.
Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the judge may change the order. The usual order of events are:
Step 1: Selection of the juryStep 2: Opening statementsStep 3: Presentation of evidenceStep 4: Jury instructionsStep 5: Closing argumentsStep 6: Jury deliberationsStep 7: Announcement of the verdict