Being Called for Jury Duty
Persons receiving a Jury Summons from the Columbia County Clerk's Office have been randomly chosen from the pool of prospective jurors. Jurors are selected at random from lists of Columbia County voter registrations, driver’s licenses, and Washington State identification cards. The lists are combined and duplicate names are eliminated. However, different spellings or name variations may result in duplication.
The summons will be mailed out the month before your jury term and will state the month in which you will be called for jury duty. Prospective jurors must complete and return the juror questionnaire portion of the summons within five (5) days of receipt. All information received will be treated confidentially. It is important to provide complete information so that the court can either qualify you to serve or excuse you from service.
To qualify for jury duty, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Reside in Columbia County
- Be able to communicate in the English language (RCW 2.36.070)
- Not be a convicted felon or if convicted, must have had your rights restored
Very few people are excused from jury duty. Jurors will be excused only upon a demonstration of undue financial hardship or extreme inconvenience or for other reasons deemed adequate by the court. (RCW 2.36.100)
Requests for Postponements
If there is a conflict with serving in the month you are called for, there is an option on the summons to reschedule your service to a different month within a 12 month period. (If you do reschedule, another summons will not be sent to you for the month you have chosen.) Please do not call the Clerk's Office asking to be excused over the phone as phone requests cannot be considered.
Only the Judge can excuse a Juror from serving. If you are asking to be excused, you will still need to complete the summons and we will give it to the Judge for consideration. If there is a medical reason why a person cannot serve, a physician's written verification which details why the juror cannot serve and the length or duration of the illness or problem must be provided. Please do not call with your excuse. You will be notified by letter with the Judge’s decision.
Important Information for Employers Regarding Jury Service
(1) An employer shall provide an employee with a sufficient leave of absence from employment to serve as a juror when that employee is summoned pursuant to chapter 2.36 RCW.
(2) An employer shall not deprive an employee of employment or threaten, coerce, or harass an employee, or deny an employee promotional opportunities because the employee receives a summons, responds to the summons, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service.
(3) An employer who intentionally violates subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(4) If an employer commits an act in violation of subsection (2) of this section the employee may bring a civil action for damages as a result of the violation and for an order requiring the reinstatement of the employee. If the employee prevails, the employee shall be allowed a reasonable attorney's fee as determined by the court.
(5) For purposes of this section employer means any person, association, partnership, or private or public corporation that employs or exercises control over wages, hours, or working conditions of one or more employees.
Your job as a juror is to listen to all the evidence 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. Everyone must do their job well to make our system of trial by jury work.
Jury trials have been an important part of the American legal system for over two centuries. They are an integral part of the law, which protects the fundamental rights of all citizens. Service as a juror is both a privilege and a duty and, when conscientiously performed, is a mark of good citizenship. Jurors do not need any special skills or legal knowledge, but like any other judge you need to be able to set aside personal feelings and biases and be willing to keep an open mind before making a decision. A fair and impartial trial and the rendition of a just verdict depends upon the combined efforts of the jurors, the judge, and the lawyers.
Once selected to serve on a trial, the Court is counting on each juror to be there every day until a verdict is reached and the judge releases you. Once you are assigned to a courtroom you must not discuss the case with anyone. You must not research the laws, history of the case, blog, or post on any form of social media - as doing so could lead to a mistrial.
Failure to appear for jury duty is a misdemeanor under RCW 2.36.170 and may result in the issuance of a warrant. If you are unable to report as instructed, you must notify the Clerk's Office immediately during regular office hours.
Payment for Services Rendered
Jurors are paid $10 per day of service and mileage at the current rate set by the State of Washington
Checks are usually issued two to four weeks after the jury term ends by the County Auditor.
For additional information on jury service, see A Juror's Guide
For more information on the court system, see A Citizens Guide to Washington State Courts
For More Information
If you have any questions about jury duty, please call the Superior Court Clerk's office at (509) 382-4321.