Washington governor gets called for jury duty

By: By CURT WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer
By: By CURT WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - It's good to be the governor. You get to live in a mansion, meet the president and use your considerable clout to tackle huge problems.

But when the jury duty notice arrives, even the state's top elected official has to trudge down to the courthouse.

That's what Gov. Chris Gregoire did Monday morning, suspending her schedule for a few hours of civic duty at Thurston County Superior Court.

"No, I am not kidding," spokesman Pearse Edwards said.

Gregoire, who often jokes that she's a "recovering lawyer," watched a standard video presentation and joined other prospective jurors for an interview with attorneys in a case, Edwards said.

The case was a criminal trial on charges of theft, forgery and bail jumping, with Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks presiding.

A defense attorney in the case actually used to work for Gregoire, during the 12 years she served as the state's attorney general. That prior connection probably played a role when Gregoire was not selected for the jury panel, and she returned to the Capitol after a few hours.

"No whining or nothing. No grumbling," jury administrator Dave Sharpsteen said. "It looked like she rather enjoyed it."

Another of the prospective jurors apparently wasn't enjoying himself, though. Gregoire said one man in the pool told the governor it was her fault that he'd been called in for jury duty.

"And I said, 'How is that my fault?' And he said 'I voted for you, therefore they knew I was a voter. And it's based on that,"' Gregoire told reporters after returning. "Everybody in the room turned around and looked at me, and I said 'Sir, it could be other reasons."'

Gregoire isn't the first Washington governor to be tapped for jury duty. Former Gov. Gary Locke was called to the courthouse in 2000, but he didn't end up serving. Gregoire also was called in several years ago when she was attorney general, but she was sent home that time as well.

Coincidentally, another worker from the governor's office was tapped for jury duty in the same case Monday, but that person was chosen to stay for the next step in the selection process, Edwards said.

If she'd been selected, Gregoire "would have been happy to serve. She went down this morning as part of her civic duty," Edwards said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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