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Juror Questions & Answers
Jurors are summoned randomly and are scheduled at the time of trial. Jurors serving at Bonney Lake Municipal Court must be residents of Pierce County.
Please read your juror summons for information detailing special circumstances allowing exemption from jury duty.
In the event you are summoned, please check back to this page for updated juror information, or call the Juror Information Line at (253) 447-3206 to see if you will need to appear. Occasionally, cases will settle before a scheduled jury trial and the recorded message will advise whether your appearance is necessary.
If you are called in for jury duty, your job as juror is to listen to all the evidence and testimony presented at trial, and decide what occurred. The Judge's job is to decide the law; and make decisions on legal issues that come up during the trial. All must do their job well if our system of trial by jury is to work.
You do not need special knowledge or ability to do your job. It is enough that you keep an open mind, use common sense, concentrate on the evidence presented, and be fair and honest in your deliberations.
Remember - do not be influenced by sympathy or prejudice. It is vital that you be impartial with regard to all testimony and ideas presented at the trial.
We hope you find your experience as a juror interesting and satisfying. Thank you for your willingness to serve. If you do not find the answer to your questions you may e-mail the Jury Coordinator or call the Court at 253-862-6606.
Juror Questions and Answers
How was I Chosen?
First, your name was selected at random from voter registration and drivers license and identicard records. Than, your answers to the juror questionnaire were evaluated to make sure you were eligible for jury service. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a resident of the county in which you are to serve as a juror, and you must be able to communicate in English. If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you must have had your civil rights restored. In short, you were chosen because you are eligible to serve.
In the courtroom, the Judge will tell you about the case, then introduce the lawyers and others who are involved. You will also take an oath, in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully.
After you are sworn in, the Judge and the lawyers will question you and other members of the panel to find out if you have any knowledge about the case, any personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard for you to be impartial. This questioning process is called Voir Dire, which means to speak the truth.
Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. If you are uncomfortable answering them, tell the Judge and he may ask them privately.
How long will I serve?
Usually 1 day only but at the most 1-1/2 to 2 days. You will only serve for 1 trial in Bonney Lake Municipal Court and will not be on a panel in Bonney Lake Municipal Court requiring you to appear for 2 weeks.
Might I be called, but not sit on a jury?
Yes. Sometimes parties in a case settle their differences only moments before the trial is scheduled to begin. In such instances you will be excused with the thanks of the court.
What should I wear?
Dress comfortably. Suits, ties and other more formal wear are not necessary. But don't be too informal. Beachwear, shorts, halter or tank tops are not appropriate in court. Hats are not allowed unless worn for religious purposes.
What If I am physically challenged?
Judges and employees of Washington courts are committed to making jury service accessible to everyone. Attempts to accommodate all jurors will be made. Remember: If you have a hearing, sight or mobility problem, inform a member of the court staff.
What about my job?
Washington law states employers shall provide an employee with sufficient leave of absence from employment when that employee is summoned for jury duty. It also states employers shall not deprive an employee of employment or threaten, coerce, or harass an employee or deny an employee promotional opportunities for serving as a juror. It does not state your employer has to pay while you serve, although some employers do so voluntarily.
What if I have an emergency?
Because your absence could delay a trial, it is important that you report each day you are required to. If a real emergency occurs, a sudden illness, accident or death in the family, tell the court staff immediately so that the trial can be scheduled around you.
What types of cases may I hear?
Jury cases at Bonney Lake Municipal Court are criminal cases. A criminal case is brought by the City against one or more persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the City is the plaintiff, and the accused person is the defendant. The defendant is informed of the charge, or charges called a complaint or information.
What happens during a trial?
Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the Judge. Here is the usual order of events:
- Step 1: Selection of the jury
- Step 2: Opening statements
- Step 3: Presentation of evidence
- Step 4: Jury instructions
- Step 5: Closing arguments
- Step 6: Jury Deliberations
- Step 7: Announcement of the verdict
During the Trial…
- DO arrive on time and DO return promptly after breaks and lunch. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
- DO pay close attention. If you cannot hear what is being said, raise your hand and let the Judge know.
- DO keep an open mind all through the trial.
- DO listen carefully to the instructions read by the Judge. Remember, it is your duty to accept what the Judge says about the law to be applied to the case.
- DO NOT try to guess what the Judge thinks about the case. Remember that rulings from the bench do not reflect the personal views of the Judge.
- DO NOT talk about the case or issues raised by the case with anyone, including other jurors, while the trial is going on, and DO NOT let others talk about the case in your presence, even family members. If someone insists on talking to you or another juror about the case, please report the matter to a court employee. These rules are designed to help you keep an open mind during the trial.
- DO NOT talk to the lawyers, parties, or witnesses about anything. This will avoid the impression that something unfair is going on.
- DO NOT try to uncover evidence on your own. Never, for example, go to the scene of an event that was part of the case you are hearing. You must decide the case only on the basis of evidence admitted in court.
- DO NOT let yourself get information about the case from the news media or any other outside source. Even if news reports are accurate and complete, they cannot substitute for your own impression about the case. If you accidentally hear outside information about the case during trial, tell a member of the court staff in private.
- DO NOT take notes during the trial unless the Judge gives you permission to do so.
- DO work out differences between yourself and other jurors through complete and fair discussions of the evidence and of the Judge's instructions. DO NOT lose your temper, try to bully or refuse to listen to the opinions of other jurors.
- DO NOT mark or write on exhibits or otherwise change or injure them.
- DO NOT try to guess what might happen if the case you have heard is appealed. Appellate courts deal with legal questions, they will not change your verdict if you decide the facts based on proper evidence and instructions.
- DO NOT draw straws, flip coins or otherwise arrive at your verdict by chance, or the decision will be illegal.
- DO NOT talk to anyone about your deliberations or about the verdict until the Judge discharges the jury. After discharge, you may discuss the verdict and the deliberations with anyone, including the media, the lawyers or your family. But DO NOT feel obligated to do so, no juror can be forced to talk without a court order.
The staff of Bonney Lake Municipal Court hopes the foregoing has been informative and that your experience as a juror will be pleasant.
Juror Information Line - (253) 447-3206
Municipal Court - (253) 862-6606