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Viewer Question: How does Idaho do jury selection?

After repeated jury summons, a viewer wrote in asking about how Idaho selects jury pools.

BOISE, Idaho — In the 208 Facebook Group, Olivia asked a great question about jury duty in Idaho. She writes, “How do they decide who gets called for Jury Duty? I’m in my late 20’s and have now been called for Jury Duty 3 times in 4 years. Yet plenty if people older than me have never been called, why?”

Great question, KTVB went to Ada County Administrative District Court Judge Steven Hippler and Ada County Jury Commissioner Randy Rutland for details. So, for starters, how is the pool of jurors created?

“They are selected either through their voter’s registration or state ID or driver’s license,” Rutland said.

But, how is the process done? Is it completely random?

“It’s a completely random process. Everybody’s name goes into that jury pool that is over the age of 18 and a resident of Ada County that has that voter’s registration or ID and it’s completely random after that,” Rutland said.

So Olivia, it’s just your luck being selected three times in four years. However, did you know that after serving on jury you earn the right for a limited time to say no thanks to new jury summons?

“You can get another summons year after year however, on our qualification questionnaire there is a spot there where you can basically excuse yourself by marking that you’ve been summoned and served within the last 36 months and you have that option to opt out. Some citizens prefer not to and they try to serve as many times as they can but you do have that option, for 36 months from the last time you were summoned and served that you may opt out of it,” Rutland said.

Like so many other things in our community, COVID has complicated jury trials. Idaho courts saw pauses on jury trials over the last year because of COVID precautions. That has created a backlog. Judge Steven Hippler explains.

“In a typical year we would try in the neighborhood of 350-500 jury trials in Ada County alone. In 2020 we tried about 100 jury trials, tells you that backlog,” Hippler said.

Judge Hippler says it will take some time to work through it all.

“Every time we have one of these periods where we can’t have trials it just then starts to stack up everything again. So, we anticipate that we will be digging out of this in one way or another probably through at least 2025,” Hippler said.

So, as jury trials resume across Idaho more and more jury summons will be sent out. Meaning, there is a higher chance you could soon be selected for jury duty! The process of jury selection across Idaho is very similar, jury selection is random. Fun fact - Judge Hippler says there is an obscure law in case a jury doesn’t show up.

“Certainly, throughout the state being selected is random. One of my favorite parts of the law though, I’ve never seen it applied, but If we don’t have enough jurors on a given day and we need more the judge can order the Sheriff to go grab people off the street and bring them in. That, to my knowledge, has not happened in this community, I’ve heard of it happening in smaller communities, but that is a possibility too,” Hippler said.

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