If you have been summoned to serve as a juror in the Nineteenth Judicial District of Kansas, commonly called the Cowley County District Court, the following information will be beneficial to you. This page describes in general the functions of the jurors in the court. By reading it you will be able to make your contribution to the administration of justice more valuable and more rewarding. You are being asked to perform one of the highest duties that can be imposed on any citizen. Therefore, it is important that you willingly and without reservation determine to do your duty as a juror in accord with the highest and truest sense of obligation and responsibility at your command. While we acknowledge that jury service is sometimes an inconvenience, your service as a juror is an essential part of our justice system. You should feel proud that you have materially aided the justice system.
Jury under Pandemic Conditions
Due to Covid-19 the Courtroom has been rearranged and a plan has been outlined to provide for the safety and health of potential Jurors. Click on the link to see the full plan that was submitted to the State for all upcoming Jury Trials. This plan will be used for all Jury Trials until further notice.
Courtroom Location and Parking
All jury cases are conducted at the main courthouse located at 311 E. 9th in Winfield, KS. The courtroom is located just west of the main stairway on the second floor of the courthouse. Parking is available in the Albertson Annex parking lot located directly north of the courthouse and in the county parking lot located on the southeast corner of 10th and Loomis Street.
How was I selected?
You were selected at random with the use of a computer from the citizens of Cowley County who have been issued a drivers license or ID card by the Kansas State Division of Motor Vehicle or who are registered to vote. If you are at least eighteen years of age, a citizen of the United States, a resident of Cowley County, are not now adjudged incompetent, are able to comprehend the English Language, not currently breastfeeding, and have not been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years, you are eligible to serve as a juror.
How long will I serve?
Jury questionnaires are drawn every four to six months to create a pool of possible jurors. All jury panels are called for a specific case from the list of questionnaires from the pool for the four to six month time period. Until you are selected and serve as a juror you may be summoned to reappear for jury service in different cases during the four to six month time period. The number of times that you are requested to return for possible jury service will vary depending upon the number of jurors in the pool and the number of cases that proceed to jury trial during that time period. At the end of the pool term your service will be concluded even if you have not served as a juror. If you are selected as a juror, your service will be over when the case is over. Although some cases last longer than one week, the vast majority of cases will conclude in one to three days. If you are selected to serve on a jury you are excused from further jury service for a period of one year.
Excuses from Service
The judges are well aware that calling you for jury duty will result in an inconvenience to you. Under the law, the judge is permitted to excuse you only if your presence is required elsewhere for the public welfare, health or safety; if you are so physically or mentally infirmed that you are not up to the task of jury duty; if you have served on a jury within the last year; or, if jury service would cause you extraordinary or compelling personal hardship. If you believe that you should be excused for one of these reasons, make your request known to the Jury Clerk. Continuance of Jury Service If jury service on the scheduled date would cause you temporary extraordinary or compelling personal hardship, your jury service can be changed to a later date. Request for deferred jury service must be made before the date on your summons by calling the Jury Clerk.
Must I have special knowledge?
For service as a juror, it is not expected or necessary that you have any special talents or training. The judge presiding in the trial will decide the law. You will decide the facts from the evidence presented in the case utilizing your experience and knowledge common to all persons in general. As a juror, you become an officer of the court, the judge of the facts – and determine the verdict in the case. What is the working schedule? The hours of work are set by each judge with a break for lunch and morning and afternoon recess. At times it becomes necessary to work a little late – perhaps to complete the testimony of a witness from out of town to avoid a return the next day. But the nominal working hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm. During lunch you are permitted to leave the courthouse. Lunch will provided to you at the expense of the county while you are in deliberations. In the evenings you will be permitted to return to your homes. You may have read of cases where jurors are “sequestered” or kept together in the evenings during trial. You do not need to worry about this. Traditionally, we do not sequester juries, even during their deliberation upon their verdict.
The parties have a legal right to settle their differences without a trial, and at times this may be done shortly before trial. When this occurs the court will attempt to contact perspective jurors by phone or by mail. We also maintain a juror hotline that provides the latest information that we have concerning the status of scheduled jury cases. Most jury trials begin on Tuesdays. You may want to contact the hotline on Monday to confirm whether you need to appear for service. The HOTLINE NUMBER is 620-221-5470.
Courtroom Decorum and Dress
Whenever the judge enters the courtroom, all persons in attendance are required to rise, and court is opened formally by the bailiff of the court. Besides the judge and bailiff, the staff includes the certified shorthand reporter who records all the proceedings of the trial. When a case is ready to be tried with a jury, the judge will announce the names of the parties and introduce the lawyers. The required number of jurors will then be called to sit in the jury box, and trial begins with the jury selection process. Shorts, muscle shirts, sweat pants and ball caps are not appropriate dress for the courtroom. You may wear blue jeans and t-shirts. The heat and air system in the courthouse is nearly fifty years old and it is often very difficult to regulate the temperature in the courtroom. Because of this you may want to bring a jacket that you can put on or take off to help adjust the temperature for yourself.
Conduct of Jurors
The judge will inform you of your function and conduct as jurors. Generally, you will be instructed that during the trial you as jurors must not express any opinion about the case nor are you to discuss any part of the case among yourselves or with anyone else, nor have anyone discuss the case with you or in your presence. The reason here is obvious: you are bound to render a verdict based only upon the evidence presented during the trial, which the judge has determined proper and admissible for you to consider. You will notice that the parties and their lawyers may appear to be aloof and unfriendly. They are not permitted to fraternize with jurors. This is intended to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety. Your contacts about the case must be made only with the judge and the bailiff. All that will be expected of you is to be open-minded, fair, and objective, and determine the facts of the case and the verdict based upon the evidence presented, the judge’s instructions, and your common sense.
The statutory jury fee of S25 per day is not intended to reflect the value of your services as jurors. It is simply a token payment to persons who are performing one of the duties of citizenship. Mileage is paid at the allowable county rate for jurors who reside outside the Winfield city limits. You will receive your fee plus a mileage allowance approximately two weeks following your jury service. If you are excused at your request, you will not receive this fee since you will not have been eligible for jury service.
Procedure of a Jury Trial
If you have questions about your rights or responsibilities as a juror, call the Jury Clerk at 620-221-5470.
Your duty as a juror requires you to be prompt in your attendance, attentive to your duties, faithful to your oath, considerate and tolerant of your fellow jurors, sound and deliberate in you evaluation, firm but not stubborn in your convictions, and faithful to your trust.
From your service as a juror, you will experience a sense of deep satisfaction for having fulfilled your obligation to our community.