Friday, March 26, 2010

Jury Selection in King County

A discussion with my friend Andrew prompted me to do a bit of research regarding jury selection in King County.  I was explaining to him how I have been summoned for jury duty to both of the different courthouses in the county (Seattle and Kent), incidentally twice to each of them at this point.  He pointed out that in his county there are two courthouses, one serving the east side of the county and one the west side of the county, but you only can get summoned to the side of the county in which you live.

Interesting, I thought.  So today while I was wandering around online, I decided to do a bit of research and find out some answers.  In fact, King County for many years since the construction of the Kent Regional Justice Center has drawn its jury pools for each of their courthouses from the entire county.  However, in 2005 the Washington State Legislature enacted a law that allowed counties with multiple courthouses to divide their jury selection geographically among the courthouses.  King County started doing this for a while in 2007, but then stopped after its constitutionality was challenged on the grounds that the state constitution guarantees a right to a jury trial comprised of jurors from the county, not PART of the county.

The State Supreme Court upheld the law in 2009, and since mid-2009 King County now summons its jurors based on geography, with two assignment areas.  I couldn't find a reference to what specifically the boundaries of those areas are, but it appears to be based on zip code, primarily with those areas south of Seattle & I-90 in the Kent area, and within Seattle and north of I-90 in the Seattle area.  Though they do claim to intend to adjust the boundaries based on census data, to ensure a fair and balanced representation of both juries.  Seems reasonable.

What this means is, considering I now live on the northern border of the county, I should never be summoned to jury duty in Kent again.  At least that should limit my options a bit. :)  Though it should also save the court some money, as let me tell you, mileage from my house to Kent added up to about 62 miles round trip @ $0.55/mile =  $34.10 + $10.00 = $44.10/day for serving jury duty.  Of course, I actually donated that to the court's child care program, because it's a good thing.  But still, that's far more money than they really need to spend to get qualified jurors.

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