Sunday, January 6, 2008

King County's Split of Jury Pool Unconstitutional?

For years, people were called to jury service int he county and assigned to either the Regional Justice Center in Kent or the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle randomly. That made for big transportation hassles for jurors who had to cross the county. This fall the courts tried out a new system, sending jurors from south of I-90 to the RJC and jurors from north of I-90 downtown. A couple of judges upheld the system over challenges, but this week Superior Court Judge Cheryl Carey, "in a strongly worded opinion," said the system violates the state constitution's requirement that guarantees trial by "an impartial jury of the county in which the offense is charged to have been committed." Jury verdicts in question, Seattle Times, Jan. 6, 2008.

The constitutional provision quoted is in Art. I sec. 22 of the Washington State Constitution.

The court rule challenged is King County Local General Rule 18, effective Sept. 1, 2007. LGR implements RCW 2.36.055, enacted in 2005.

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