Jury trials return to Jefferson County Courthouse next week

Posted 7/9/20

Jury trials in Jefferson County will restart next week, county officials announced late Wednesday.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington State Supreme Court suspended jury trials until …

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Jury trials return to Jefferson County Courthouse next week

Posted

Jury trials in Jefferson County will restart next week, county officials announced late Wednesday.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington State Supreme Court suspended jury trials until after July 6. Trials in Jefferson County will now resume Monday, July 13.

The layout of courtrooms in the county courthouse have been significantly changed to protect people from the coronavirus.
Courtrooms have been reconfigured to comply with social distancing measures, county officials noted, and plastic shields have been installed throughout the building to prevent the spread of COVID-19 where people will be close together.

The new courtroom setup complies with social distancing measures, and new procedures have also been established to focus on the health and safety of jurors.

The long visitor benches in the courtrooms have been removed and replaced with chairs that are spaced far apart, and the bench and clerk area have been fitted with a plexiglas sneeze guard.

A disinfecting fogger will be used in the courtroom at regular intervals, along with four air purifiers with a heat component that kills viruses on contact, officials noted.

Changes — including both short- and long-term solutions — have been made to keep jurors safe as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

Voir dire, the process of selecting jurors, has been streamlined, and many questions are being posed in the juror questionnaire sent with the juror summons, according to court officials.

A maximum of 30 people will constitute a jury group.

Also, since the current jury room at the courthouse is not big enough to accommodate 12 jurors safely, jury deliberations will be held in a different room.

Several new procedures have been adopted for potential jurors.
All people entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask or face covering.

Masks will be provided for potential jurors; either cloth, regular-type paper, N45 masks or plastic face shield-type protection gear.
Jefferson County court officials also said that health screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature checks, will be performed at the courthouse at the Cass Street entrance.

The jury bailiffs will escort the jury pool to sign-in sessions on the second floor and then directly into the courtrooms for the start of selection.

Potential jurors will be pre-assigned their juror numbers and receive a brochure regarding jury service. The arrival time will be indicated on the jury summons that potential jurors get in the mail.

In the case of inclement weather, potential jurors will be asked to wait in their vehicles and will be called on mobile phones to appear.

Jury pools will be divided into smaller groups of 30 for jury selection, with morning and afternoon sign-in sessions.

Those in a later session will need to call the number provided prior to arrival for confirmation they are still needed for jury selection.

Potential jurors will have the opportunity to view a jury orientation film prior to the first day of trial.

The film and other pertinent information can be found online at https://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/168/Jury-Duty-General-Information.

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