Jury trials for the Montana Fourth Judicial District will resume Mon., Jul. 6, 2020 with COVID-19 safety measures and guidelines in place.
The right to trial by jury is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and jury trials necessarily involve sacrifice from those citizens called upon to serve. This has always been true, but it is especially true during these unique and trying times. It is our personal conviction that jury service is the second highest form of public service that any American can perform (second only to service in the Armed Forces). The right to trial by jury has been enshrined within the Seventh Amendment to our U. S. Constitution since 1791, and it was one of the stated principles in the Declaration of Independence which fueled our struggle to become an independent nation. Only those with extreme hardships should seek to be excused based on pre-existing obligations.
Please review measures we are taking to ensure the safety of all participants involved in conducting a jury trial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Please DO NOT report for jury duty if you are feeling ill, or if (within the last 72 hours) you or any member of your household have had any chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell on top of fever, cough and shortness of breath, vomiting or diarrhea. Instead, contact the Clerk of Court’s Office (406-258-4780) noting you are sick with one or more of these symptoms.
- To ensure your safety and health while completing your jury service, we are taking several steps to protect your exposure to the COVID-19 virus, including:
- Performing health screenings of all trial participants (including you) before and during stages of the trial.
- Requiring all participants to maintain social distancing (at least 6-foot separation) at all stages of the trial.
- Requiring all participants to wear appropriate face masks and providing a disposable mask. (Please bring your own mask if you have one; no distracting masks will be permitted.)
- Limiting the number of court staff who contact you as a juror.
- Providing hand sanitizer at multiple stations for your use.
- Frequently disinfecting commonly used surfaces and items in the courthouse, including deep cleaning each night.
- Using technology to minimize contact with each other and promote distancing.
- To facilitate the health screening process, please plan to use the east entrance to the Missoula County Courthouse (Ryman Street). We will have signs directing you to the appropriate entrances. Remember your social distancing and observe the markings on the sidewalk and courtroom floor to queue no closer than 6’ apart. We will mark appropriate places to sit to best maintain distancing.
- To reduce the number of people reporting for jury duty (and perhaps relieving you of the duty to report), please complete and timely return the questionnaire which accompanies the summons to report for jury service. The questionnaire seeks information to help shorten the jury selection process. Depending on your responses, you may not have to come to the courthouse.
- Please respond as completely as possible to the best of your ability. Failure to disclose any of the requested information can impact the right to a fair trial. Your answers must be truthful; a false or misleading answer may subject you to perjury.
- Please note that there are several cases scheduled to begin trial on the above date. The trial should not last more than the week (Monday – Friday). If you cannot be available for that length of time without real hardship on you or your family, please complete the Affidavit of Excusal enclosed with this letter and Summons.
- Finally, please refrain from conducting any research on this case, whether by scanning media accounts, searching the Internet, or searching through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) Media and Internet accounts can be faulty, incomplete, or biased. You may be asked if you have conducted any independent research during the jury selection process.