Cowlitz County clerk purges people over 80 from jury pool

LONGVIEW - An employee in the Cowlitz County Superior Court Clerk's office has been purging the names of people 80 and older from the local jury pool, raising questions about the fairness of recent trials, county officials said Friday.

The news has prompted the delay of several trials, including a murder trial, until authorities are sure that the jury pool has been restored to a full list of eligible jurors, the officials said.

Begining in July, the jury management clerk, Sue Anderson , removed the names from a master list of potential jurors in an effort to save money, officials said. But in doing so, she violated a key tenant of the justice system: that defendants are entitled to a trial by jury of their peers.

“A jury of your peers means a jury of all the people,” Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning said Friday. “You don’t automatically exclude somebody.”

In all, about 3,000 names were removed from a jury pool of roughly 82,000 eligible county residents.