Jury selection moves to the Yakima Valley SunDome, trials stay at courthouse

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima County Superior Court has moved its jury selection out of the courthouse and into the Yakima Valley SunDome to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among potential jurors.

“I’m pretty confident that we’ve done everything that we think we can to make this as safe as possible,” Yakima County Superior Court Administrator Jessica Humphreys said.

Humphreys said it took four court employees about 700 hours to design and set up the makeshift courthouse inside the SunDome.

Before potential jurors arrive, they complete a questionnaire designed to determine if they’ve been exposed to the virus; those who have will be excluded.

Humphreys said temperature checks will be conducted upon arrival and the entire building is set up to make social distancing easier, with arrows on the floor marking where people should stand in line and chairs spaced at least six feet apart.

Face masks are required during the process and will be provided in the event that a potential juror doesn’t have one. Hand sanitation stations will be readily available throughout the makeshift courthouse and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned regularly.

Humphreys said all parts of the setup are in line with recommendations from the Yakima Health District, the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for the first trial in Yakima County since jury trials were suspended earlier this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Humphreys said trials will continue to be held in the Yakima County courthouse, which has also been modified for COVID-19 restrictions.

For more information, the Yakima County Jury Administration office can be reached at 509-574-1450.