Washington State Jury Commission
To assure that the Commission completed its Report in one year, three subcommittees were established: Citizen Participation in the Jury System, Jury Process Improvement, and Enhancing Services for Jurors. The committees selected the issues to be pursued. A final list of issues was decided upon by the full Commission before the committees began discussing, investigating, and drafting recommendations.
Citizen Participation in the Jury System, Dr. Oscar Soule, Chair
This committee examined the broad issue of how to encourage and improve citizen participation in the jury system. In the course of its inquiry, the committee addressed such questions as: What are the best ways to promote public awareness of our jury system? How can citizens be encouraged to participate? Are our juries representative of the population? How can we improve communication between the courts and those called for jury duty?
Jury Process Improvement, Honorable Sharon Armstrong, Chair
The goal of this committee was to enhance the jury experience and to increase efficiency from the juror's standpoint. Members examined juror-related activities that take place once citizens arrive in the courthouse, with particular emphasis on how to reduce the time jurors spend waiting, improvements to juror selection, ways to increase juror participation and comprehension in the courtroom, and ways to improve the jury deliberation process.
Enhancing Services for Jurors, Honorable Heather Van Nuys, Chair
This committee explored ways to reduce the burden of service on citizens called for jury duty. Members were charged with investigating issues that represent a financial burden for jurors and their employers, such as the adequacy of juror fees; how to assist jurors with child care, commuting, and parking costs; and the feasibility of reducing the frequency and terms of service. They considered ways to provide for citizens' needs during their time at the courthouse, including emotional support to jurors during and after stressful trials.
In addition to the initial judicial and juror surveys conducted by Washington State University (WSU), public input was sought in a variety of ways. Several committee members participated in a public forum sponsored by WSU in Spokane. We used modern technology to provide convenient public access to the Commission's work. A Washington State Jury Commission web page was created listing the draft recommendations as they were completed. The web page provided an e-mail link allowing immediate public feedback to the Commission. During Juror Appreciation Week in May, an advertisement thanking jurors and promoting jury service was published at no cost in several daily newspapers across the state. The advertisement included traditional and electronic mail addresses for the Commission to which comments could be addressed. Means for contacting the Commission were also included in a press release and in letters to county clerks, presiding judges, and court administrators at all court levels. The Commission's final report will be published on the web page.
Proposed Implementation Committee:
After receiving the Commission's report, the Board of Judicial Administration (BJA) will appoint a committee to implement the recommendations it adopts. Committee members will propose ways of funding these recommendations, draft any legislative proposals and court rule changes necessary to their implementation, and oversee and coordinate any recommended research or educational projects. The Commission's recommendations will also be part of judicial education programs for trial judges.
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