Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (left) and Councilman Sam Low.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (left) and Councilman Sam Low.

Two local politicians could wind up in court — for jury duty

The Snohomish County officials are among 60,000 called to serve on local juries each year.

EVERETT — The two pols were surprised to wind up swimming in the same pool — Monday’s jury pool.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and County Councilman Sam Low recently received jury summonses to Snohomish County Superior Court. It struck them as an amusing coincidence that both had to report this week.

“It’s probably been 10 or 15 years since I was called last,” Somers said. “I actually served on a jury the last time I was called. I enjoyed the experience. I think it’s a good thing for everybody to do.”

About 60,000 people in Snohomish County get summoned each year for jury duty in superior court and district courts. It’s a random process, so it was a little unusual for the two elected officials to get called the same week. Low, a Republican, lives in Lake Stevens proper. Somers, a Democrat, lives outside Monroe, in Low’s council district.

“I represent Dave and he represents me,” Low said.

It was too early to say who might be needed in court Monday — or if they would eventually wind up on a jury.

In theory, anyone who lives in Snohomish County could get called for jury duty if he or she is registered to vote here or has a state-issued driver’s license or official identification card with a local address. That doesn’t mean they’re eligible to serve on a jury, though.

Jurors must be over 18, U.S. citizens and able to communicate in English. Convicted felons are only eligible after having their civil rights restored.

The County Clerk’s Office starts the process by compiling lists of registered voters, licenses and ID cards, said Heidi Percy, the office’s judicial operations manager. That yields about 1 million names. Weeding out duplicates leaves them with about 500,000 names. They randomly select 80,000 for the year, using an algorithm.

In a typical week, they could mail out 1,000 summonses for superior and district courts. That’s also a random process.

They might call on 150 to 250 to show up in court that week, depending on the number of trials taking place. The jurors get parking passes for the county garage.

“If we have six or seven trials going on, we might call in the whole 250,” Percy said.

If people have scheduling conflicts, the clerk’s office can accommodate them for another date, Percy said. Staff must approve requests to be excused for undue hardship or other reasons defined by state law.

Potential jurors must call in each day.

“Jurors are summoned to appear for one week or one trial,” Percy said. “They are expected to call in each night to see if they are needed for jury duty until they have been excused for the term.”

If their group number comes up, the juror would have to show up in court. From that group, a smaller number is impaneled. That’s when attorneys would start voir dire, asking questions to determine a juror’s ability to decide a case fairly and impartially.

Once a trial starts, the juror is there for the duration. More complex cases can go well over a week.

Intentionally ignoring a summons, in theory, could result in a misdemeanor. It’s up to the individual court whether to pursue charges. Jurors are paid $10 per day plus round-trip mileage from home to court. The court does not pay for or provide childcare. Employers aren’t required to pay employees during jury duty, though some do.

Somers said the jury he served on years ago heard a domestic violence rape case that ended with the defendant’s acquittal.

“It was a window into a world most people don’t see,” he said.

Low said he was last called two years ago. The timing was a bit inconvenient, coming in the fall during his first run for the County Council, as his campaign was in full swing.

“People told me not to do it,” he recalled. He ignored them.

In the end, he wasn’t picked.

This time, he’s eager for the experience.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Traffic will be rerouted from a closed section of 220th Street SW just west of I-5 for overnight road repairs Wednesday and Thursday. (Sound Transit)
Overnight work to close 220th Street SW and southbound I-5

Contractor crews plan to repair 220th and need to close the freeway for light rail work.

This condo on Norton Ave. in Everett was sold Friday, June 18. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Snohomish County home values soar in latest assessment

Lack of affordable housing put the squeeze on buyers and drove up home prices across Snohomish County.

With credit scores out, will insurers cut or hike your rate?

Lack of affordable housing squeezed buyers and drove up home prices across Snohomish County.

Lynnwood man is challenging the legality of his imprisonment

The Island County Jail inmate was temporarily sent to a state prison and allegedly held in solitary confinement.

Chris Stack and Samantha Soule film a scene of their movie, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue," on the Coupeville wharf June 14. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Indie film crew: Whidbey residents are ‘generous and welcoming’

The movie makers are shooting scenes for a full-length feature at various sites around the island.

Community Transit is asking for feedback on options for a pilot program to bring a community van or microtransit, on-demand public transit, to Lynnwood in spring next year. (Community Transit)
Are you ready for public transit ride-sharing in Lynnwood?

Community Transit is planning a pilot program next spring and wants to hear what people think.

Harry Lee Jones Jr.
Man gets 31½ years for shooting Everett motel guest 12 times

Harry Lee Jones Jr., 27, beat and then shot a Farwest Motel guest in 2018 while two accomplices looted his room.

Everett's Patrick Hall was among people who put up signs in March to save the Longfellow School building.  He is now part of an advisory task force looking at options for the building, which the Everett School District had planned to tear down.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
National register listing could be next for old Longfellow

But the designation wouldn’t stop the Everett School District from tearing down the former school.

Cars make their way across US 2 between Lake Stevens and Everett as wildfire smoke makes downtown Everett barely visible on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wildfire smoke: A burning health issue is getting worse

As the hazardous haze increases during fire seasons, it’s time to get serious and prepare, experts say.

Most Read