Washington State Jury Commission
Improving Jury Selection Procedures
Trial courts should make available to attorneys a written statement of the court’s standard practices for jury selection. The court’s standard practices should ensure that the parties have a full opportunity to select a fair jury while avoiding undue and unreasonable juror discomfort and embarrassment.
The judge should give prospective jurors a brief and neutral description of the case after consulting with the parties and before jury selection. The description should be sufficiently detailed to assist jurors in answering questions during jury selection and while performing their duties. The judge should advise the jury that the description represents the contentions of the parties and does not imply the court’s view on the merits of the case.
A party should raise any Batson objections to the opposing party’s peremptory challenges before the jury is impaneled. The court should exercise its discretionary power to raise Batson objections on its own motion. Batson challenges, and objections to these challenges, should be handled outside the jurors’ presence.
Alternate jurors should be told that they are alternates at the beginning of the trial.