Links | Jury Service | Grand Jury | Testifying | Expunction
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If you have been called to JURY SERVICE

The Clatsop County Circuit Court website maintains a page with complete information about your rights and obligations pertaining to jury service. How to report, who to call, how to request a deferral, a juror handbook, the jury schedule, even a 19-minute "Justice for All" orientation video filmed in Washington County and introduced by Oregon Chief Justice Paul DeMuniz. 

I've presented cases ranging from shoplifting to capital murder to well over 200 juries, and I've lost several in which I remain convinced the defendant was guilty. But my faith in the jury system remains strong.

America is almost alone in the world in believing in the intersection of democracy and law and that by selecting 12 disinterested (which doesn't mean bored or stupid) people to settle cases, we seek the wisdom we think dwells in the hearts and minds of ordinary people.

When you participate in jury service, you are upholding two Constitutional Amendments at one time: the Sixth and the Fourteenth.

The Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

The relevant Due Process clause of Fourteenth Amendment:
...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

("Due Process" refers to the administration of justice -- a balancing of enforcing the laws of the land while protecting the legal rights of citizens.) 

additional information on the official Clatsop County District Attorney pages
If you have been called to serve on the GRAND JURY

The Clatsop County District Attorney's office receives about 2,000 police reports each year. Every report is reviewed vertically by a Deputy DA - meaning the same Deputy DA will review the case and, as necessary, deal with witnesses and victims, present the case to a Grand Jury and (in less than 8% of cases, because most are either dismissed or resolved) take the case to trial.

Of the 2,000 cases, the office files about 500 felonies each year, each of which must be presented to the Grand Jury. Unlike regular jury service, Grand Jurors work exclusively with the District Attorney's Office.

Every two months, the names of 10 citizens are pulled from the general jury pool to serve on the Clatsop County Grand Jury. The court will summon about 20 possible jurors and ask whether they can serve two days each week for two months.

Tell the judge if Grand Jury service would be a major economic hardship for you -- for instance, if you're self-employed or your employer can't or won't pay you while you are on jury service. You will likely go back into the general jury pool.

Of the 20 possible jurors, 10 will be chosen for the Grand Jury -- 7 regular jurors and 3 on-call alternates. The 7 regular Grand Jurors will review between 4 and 10 felony presentments each day. They will ask questions and, with advice from the DA's office, determine what charges, if any, should be filed.

The Grand Jury meets in secret, with the district attorneys acting as their legal advisor, and must vote at least 5 to 2 to indict any felony case.

Grand Jury service can be difficult but it is very rewarding. Every session a two or three grand jurors will ask to serve again, but Oregon law prohibits service on any jury more than once every two years.

additional information on the official Clatsop County District Attorney pages

If you have been called to TESTIFY BEFORE THE GRAND JURY

If you receive a grand jury subpoena, be aware that the DA's office may be required to schedule it quickly. If the suspect is in jail the DA's office has only 5 days to bring the case before the Grand Jury, or the suspect will be released.

The Grand Jury subpoena will not contain the name of the suspect, to protect the suspect (whom the Grand Jury may decide not to charge) and/or to avoid any risk to victims or witnesses.

The subpoena will direct you to appear, usually in the afternoon on a weekday, at the Grand Jury. Report to the District Attorney's receptionist, on the third floor of the Clatsop County Courthouse, at least 5 to 10  minutes before the time indicated on your subpoena.

The office makes every attempt to be efficient and not to keep you waiting, but some cases take longer than expected.

The elected District Attorneys's name (Joshua Marquis) appears on every subpoena. However, if you have a question, find the name of the Deputy DA printed underneath. The assigned Deputy DA may be able to discuss why you have been summoned. Sometimes the questions are very simple: Did you give the suspect permission to take your car? To enter your home?

Grand Jury testimony is always given under oath. The proceedings may appear less formal than a courtroom but they are just as serious. False testimony is perjury. The Deputy DA will ask you some questions and then some of the grand jurors may have questions for you. You generally cannot say what people other than the suspect told you. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so.

You will probably not be told immediately the result of the Grand Jury's deliberations. Under Oregon law, indictments are secret until the defendant is arraigned -- ie., formally told of charges and likely appointed a lawyer in open court.

If an indictment is issued, the District Attorney's office will contact you if you are needed for further hearings or a trial.

additional information on the official Clatsop County District Attorney pages

If you have been called to TESTIFY AS A WITNESS IN A TRIAL

In addition to the 500 felonies, the DA's office also files about 800 misdemeanors each year.

There is no Grand Jury for misdemeanors, so the subpoena you receive either for a hearing or a trial will contain the defendant's name. It will also have the name of the Deputy DA who is responsible for that case. Questions should be directed to that Deputy D.A., who may then refer you to their Trial Assistant or to the Victims Assistance Unit.

Many people do not want to be a witness, but a subpoena is a court order and your help is needed to fairly resolve a case. Most cases resolve before trial, and it is more likely that a case will resolve when the trial lawyers, both the district attorney and the defense attorney, know that you as a witness are available.

Trials are frequently postponed for many reasons, mostly outside the DA's office control. Therefore, you may receive more than one subpoena. A subpoena is a court order and, unless you are excused by the issuing lawyer or a judge, you could be held in contempt if you willfully refuse to attend after receiving a subpoena. Sometimes personal emergencies arise.

If you believe you cannot attend, call the DA's office as soon as possible after you receive your subpoena or the issue arises.

The District Attorney's office cannot reimburse you for lost wages or gasoline costs. The state legislature sets witness fees, which are far too low.

Dress comfortably for court, keeping in mind that you'll be in front of a judge and 6 or 12 jurors who will weigh your testimony.

Usually, if the district attorney has called you to testify, the district attorney will ask questions first (direct examination), then the defense attorney (cross examination), and then back for re-direct examination from the district attorney.

It is very important that you testify absolutely truthfully. Don't speculate or guess about what you think the lawyer asking you might want to hear.

Make sure the jury can hear you speak, and note that some of our courtrooms are hard to hear in.

Answer only what you are asked. Don't volunteer information not asked of you. Some answers, such as talking about a defendant's prior criminal record, might cause a mistrial.

After you testify, you may leave the courtroom or you may remain and watch.

If you are the victim in the case, you can remain in the courtroom at all times and watch the trial proceedings. The exception is if the judge has ordered "witnesses excluded," when you may have to wait outside the courtroom for a brief period.

If you want to know how the trial turns out, let the DA's staff know and someone will call you.

additional information on the official Clatsop County District Attorney pages
If you want to file for a CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNCTION
"A motion to set aside (expunction) is a legal proceeding for sealing a record of a criminal arrest and conviction. After a motion is granted, all official records of the arrest and conviction are sealed. In the eyes of the law, the arrest or conviction did not occur and the record does not exist." -- Multnomah County website
The Multnomah County District Attorney's office maintains a page with details including a video about how to file for a criminal record expunction. The same procedures apply everywhere in Oregon. Visit the page.