Rant & Rave: Widow receives jury summons for deceased husband

Here’s the Seattle Times “Rant & Rave” column.

We feel badly that this widow received a jury summons for her deceased husband of three years. That has to be tough especially after so long. Unfortunately, filing a death certificate with the Department of Health doesn’t automatically notify a county that an individual has passed. It can be frustrating that all government agencies don’t have a better mechanism for sharing information.

Here is how the rest of the process works:

WaTech (state agency) receives the Secretary of State (SOS) data for voter registration and the Department of Licensing data for licensed drivers and identicard holders.  WaTech merges the two databases to create the ‘merged’ jury source list.  WaTech then provides to Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC – state agency)  four files for each county:  merged, SOS alone, DOL alone, and a suspected duplicates file. 

The County Clerk or lead jury data coordinator for each county receives notice that the files are available for download via a secure web page.  These individuals receive access to the most current data in spring, and the data pull, merge, and post process happens once per year.  District courts or cities that need access to potential juror data contact the County Clerk or local jury source list lead for access to addresses that fall within their jurisdiction.  Some counties use a vendor to coordinate their jury pool activities.

We don’t know how long an individual may remain in the SOS data system or the DOL license & ident card holder databases.  It is not uncommon for deceased individuals to receive ballots, and the surviving spouse would need to contact SOS to report the passing of the individual.  Similarly, a driver’s license is valid for several years, so unless a surviving spouse notified DOL as well, the individual would remain in the DOL database that is passed to WaTech. 

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King County Superior Court Blog

The largest trial court in Washington State. Home to 53 judges, an Involuntary treatment Court, Juvenile Court, and Family Court. If it happens, it generally happens here first.

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