Submitted by San Juan County
On Friday, November 20, 2020, San Juan County Superior and District Courts entered emergency orders postponing all jury trials until after January 15, 2021, due to the novel coronavirus, COVID 19.
San Juan County has experienced a resurgence of COVID-19 cases since late October, when COVID transmission rates began dramatically increasing across the State of Washington. The positive COVID test results in our county between October 26 and November 23 make up over 46% of all reported cases to date – and that number is increasing. The rising case count means that COVID infections in November are on track to double the number of cases from the previous eight months combined.
On November 15, 2020, Governor Inslee ordered new restrictions on indoor social gatherings and other activities to help combat rising COVID-19 transmission rates statewide. The order does not apply to court operations, which are essential functions, and a jury trial is not a “social gathering.”
Although other counties may choose to go forward with jury trials, the San Juan County Courts have determined that it is not currently safe to assemble potential jurors indoors under local conditions. Therefore, the Superior Court and District Court have both entered emergency orders postponing jury trials.
All potential jurors who have been summoned for service between now and January 15 are released from service by these orders. Other court hearings are not being postponed, but most matters will be heard telephonically or by video. The District Court Clerk’s Office will also be limiting the hours that their front counter is open, to 10 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday.
“The Courts have been working hard on updating our courtrooms to allow for more social distancing and more safety,” said Superior Court Judge Kathryn Loring. “We have used CARES funds to install remote-hearing technology upgrades to both courtrooms, and to hire additional personnel to help with disinfecting the courtrooms. We believe limited hearings can safely occur in
person, while most hearings will now occur with more effective remote technology.”
If you have a hearing scheduled in either court, the San Juan County Courts encourage you to consider appearing remotely if it is possible, and to contact Court Administration with any questions.
“You may still need to come in person to the courthouse for some court matters,” said District Court Judge Carolyn Jewett. “But if you have a good phone or internet connection and you have the option of a remote hearing, please consider calling in or appearing by video instead. If you have a ticket you want to pay or papers you need to file, you can send them to us electronically or use the courthouse drop boxes located outside the Sheriff’s Office. We ask everyone to please make the extra effort to avoid person-to-person contact, and help us stop the spread.”
If you have questions, please use any of the following contact information.
For jury service questions –
Jury Information Hotline: 360-378-9407
Jury Manager email – email@example.com
Questions for Superior Court Administration –
Phone: (360) 370-7480
Questions for Superior Court Clerk and County Clerk’s Office –
Phone: (360) 378-2163
Questions for District Court –
Phone: (360) 378-4017