Superior Court Jury Trials Set Resume
|For Additional Information Contact:
Staci Myklebust, County Clerk
Chadwick M. Connors, Administrator
On behalf of the Superior Court Judges, Clerk's Office and all court staff, we are pleased to announce Cowlitz County Superior Court is tentatively set to resume jury trials later this month after pausing them in April in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.Extensive new safety precautions have been implemented to protect juror safety and public health as trials resume.
Jury summons have been sent, with the first potential trials planned for the last week of July, 2020.
"It was necessary to suspend jury trials to protect the health of court users and court staff.With input from health officials, we have developed new processes to provide potential jurors with the safest possible experience", said Judge Patricia Fassett."Jurors and the jury system are cornerstones in our justice system which promotes the fair and impartial disposition of cases.Without jury trials, justice is being denied."
The new safety processes that have been implemented are key to providing a safe and secure environment for jurors, litigants, staff and judges.Some of these new process are as follows:
- Jury trials will now occur at the Cowlitz County Event Center instead of the Hall of Justice as this will allow adequate space to properly social distance all people attending the trials
- All jurors and court users will be required to wear masks provided by the Superior Court each day
- Hand sanitizer stations will be provided throughout court facilities
- All participants in a trial will be required to participate in pre-trial health screening
- All participants in a trial will be required to participate in daily health screening
- People that have COVID-19 symptoms prior to the trial will not be allowed to participate in jury service
- People that develop COVID-19 symptoms during the trial will be excused from the trial
- Rigorous cleaning regiments are being implemented for all court facilities
- The general public viewing of jury trials will be limited so as to limit potential virus exposure
- All trials will be live streamed via KLTV and YouTube. Links will be provided on the Cowlitz County Superior Court website so the public can access the trials.
"Juror safety and well-being is vital to our process of justice and instrumental in our form of government.We are sensitive to the concerns of jurors being exposed to the virus and may not want to serve.Providing and ensuring a safe environment for our jurors is critical.We take that responsibility very seriously.With many safeguards and redundancies in place, we feel confident that jurors will be able to safely serve and will positively respond to the summons for jury service," said Judge Michael Evans.
Court staff have and will continue to do all they can to create the safest possible environment for our jurors.Jury trials and nearly all public, in-person court activities were put on hold in April by order of the state Supreme Court to protect the public health and safety.Cowlitz County's last jury trial was held on March 10, 2020.
"Citizens of Cowlitz County, thank you for your patience during this very unique time", said County Clerk Staci Myklebust. "We at the Clerk's Office take your personal safety very serious.We have mailed our first jury summonses since trials were put on hold and want you to feel confident in responding.I want to assure you we have taken steps to ensure that personal spacing and proper safety measures are in place to help protect all of us. We believe that everybody is entitled to a fair trial, and a major part of that is a properly selected jury.Thank you for doing your civic duty".
For more information concerning our jury process and answers to common questions, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on our website:https://www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us/juror-information
"We look forward to seeing our community respond to our summons.We know this has been a challenging time and we understand that fears and concerns exist.We do not take those fears lightly.We have taken extraordinary measures to provide a safe environment for you to serve and we look forward to meeting you and resuming our trials," said Presiding Judge Gary Bashor.
For more information about the Cowlitz County Superior Court, please visit our website at:https://cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us/