District Court 

Jury Information

Page updated:  December 18, 2015

WELCOME TO AN IMPORTANT JOB!                                

The right to trial by a jury of our fellow citizens is one of our most important rights and is guaranteed by the Washington State and Unites States constitutions. By serving on a jury you are helping to preserve this freedom. Your job as a juror is to listen to all the evidence presented at the trial and to "decide the fact" Ė that is, to decide what really happened. The judge, on the other hand, "decides the law" Ė that is, makes decisions on legal issues that come up during the trial. Most of the trials in  Stevens County District Court last only one day and at most two days. Lunch breaks are usually from noon to 1:30 PM.

HOW WAS I CHOSEN?

Your name was selected at random from voter and/or drivers license registration records. Next, the completed Questionnaire for Jurors was evaluated to make sure you are eligible for jury service. To be eligible, you must be 18 years of age, a United States citizen, a resident of Stevens County, and able to communicate in English. If you have been convicted of a felony, you must have had your civil rights restored.

WHAT KIND OF CASE WILL I HEAR?

In Stevens County District Court you will be hearing testimony and receiving evidence from misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases such as DUI, theft, assault, driving while license suspended, disorderly conduct etc. and civil cases.

HOW IS A SIX PERSON JURY SELECTED?

The judge will tell you about the case and will introduce the lawyers. Following explanation and the taking of the oath, the judge and the lawyers will question you and other members of the panel to determine if you are impartial. This process is called "VOIR DIRE", a phrase meaning to "speak the truth." Some of the questions may seem very personal; the lawyers are not trying to embarrass you but are trying to make sure you do not have opinions or past experience which might prevent you from making an impartial decision.

At the conclusion of the questioning, the lawyers will challenge jurors in order to reach the final six persons. Once selected the jury will be provided with an opportunity to call their homes or office prior to the start of the trial.                   

WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE EXCUSED?

Jurors are excused for numerous reasons and the lawyers rarely tell you why. Donít be upset if you are excused or challenged, it is nothing against you personally. Just enjoy the freedom to leave when excused.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE TRIAL?

The usual order of events in District Court is as follows:

  1. Selection of the jury;           
  2. Opening statements by lawyers;
  3. Plaintiff presents their evidence;
  4. Defendant may, but is not required to present evidence;            
  5. The judgeís instructions;
  6. Closing arguments;
  7. Jury deliberation;
  8. Announcement of the verdict.

                                                                                                                           

"The jury is dismissed? Donít we get tote bags or something?"

DOíS & DONíTS FOR JURORS

  1. Do pay close attention to witnesses. Concentrate both on what witnesses say and on their manner while testifying. If you cannot hear what is being said, raise your hand and let the judge know.
  2. Do keep an open mind all through the trial. Donít form an opinion on the case until you and the other jurors have conducted your deliberation.
  3. Do listen carefully to the instructions read by the judge.
  4. Donít try to guess what the judge thinks about the case.
  5. Donít talk about the case with anyone while the trial is going on, not even with the other jurors.
  6. Donít talk to the lawyers, parties, or witnesses about anything.
  7. Donít try to discover evidence on your own.
  8. Donít express your opinion about the case to other jurors until deliberations begin.

During Deliberation

  1. Do consult with the other jurors before making up your mind about a verdict.
  2. Do reason out differences of opinion between jurors by means of a complete and fair discussion of the evidence and of the Judgeís instructions.
  3. Do reconsider your views in light of your deliberations, and change them if you have become convinced they are wrong. DONíT change your convictions about the importance or effect of evidence, just because other jurors disagree with you or so that the jury can decide on a verdict.

PAYMENT OF JUROR EXPENSES

After your jury service is completed. Stevens County will pay you $10 for each day you serve and .565 cents per mile for your traveling to and from the courthouse. You should expect payment within 30 days of your jury service. Again thank you for your participation.

 

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