Washington State Jury Commission
Accommodating Citizens Called to Jury Service
Courts should require jury service for the shortest period possible. Therefore, the statute should be amended to shorten the jury term to a maximum of one week and jury service to a maximum of two days or one trial.
Jurors should be provided with full and complete information about jury service from the time they are summoned.
In order to promote broad citizen participation and to send a message that courts respect the time commitments of citizens, a state-wide policy should be established to enforce and strictly limit the granting of jury excuses while liberally granting requests for postponement.
RCW 2.36.070 should be amended to include a pilot project allowing non-English-speaking citizens to serve on a jury with the aid of a certified interpreter.
The Commission views a fee increase as its highest priority. Citizens required to perform jury service should be compensated fairly and appropriately. Legislation should be drafted requiring that current fees be raised, with the increase funded by the state. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to provide or pay for transportation and parking. Jurors could donate their fees and expenses to a court jury improvement fund.
Courts should make every effort to utilize jurors efficiently. They should avoid calling more citizens to the court facility for jury service than needed.
Each court should maintain adequate facilities for jurors with the appropriate seating, work space, rest rooms, light, and temperature control necessary to facilitate jury selection and deliberations. Special consideration should be given to jurors with disabilities or other special needs. Courts must make every effort to provide the appropriate facilities to accommodate these needs.
Amenities to improve the experience of jury service should be provided wherever possible.
At the start of a jury trial, the judge should inform the jurors of the court’s normal working hours, as well as the working hours that could be expected during deliberations. The judge should determine whether the jurors have any special needs that justify setting different times.
Judges and court personnel should assist jurors to handle the stress that may be caused by jury service.