With fewer people reporting for jury duty during the novel coronavirus outbreak, King County Superior Court judges are contacting attorneys involved in pending civil trials to let them know it could be 60 to 90 days before jurors are available to hear those cases, said Presiding Judge Jim Rogers.
Jurors in high-risk groups for contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus — including pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions and people age 60 or older — have been told they aren’t required to report for jury duty. Earlier this week, Rogers said of the 200 prospective jurors who usually report each day, about 95 have been showing up who don’t meet the court’s criteria to be released from duty.
“We’re running out of jurors,” and those who do report are being assigned to criminal trials, which take priority, Rogers said.
Attorneys arguing civil cases can opt to have trials continued or can request bench trials, which means a case is heard and decided by a judge instead of a jury, Rogers said.
The 60- to 90-day delay for civil trials is “our best guess,” and could be extended should the local outbreak continue to impact the number of jurors reporting for duty, he said.