IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
RYAN ROCHA, ) ) No. 96990-6 Plaintiff, ) ) NICOLE BEDNARCZYK, and ) CATHERINE SELIN, individually and on ) behalf of all others similarly situated, ) ) Petitioners, ) ) v. ) En Banc ) KING COUNTY, a municipal corporation, ) ) Respondent. ) ) Filed
JOHNSON, J.— This case involves claims against King County generally
regarding jury selection and compensation and raises the following three issues: (1)
whether petitioners have standing under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act
(UDJA), ch. 7.24 RCW, (2) whether jurors are employees entitled to minimum
wage under Washington’s Mini mum Wage Act (MWA), ch. 49.46 RCW, and (3) whether RCW 2.36.080(3) 1 creates an implied cause of action for increased juror
reimbursement based on economic status. Petitioners Nicole Bednarczyk and
Catherine Selin seek reversal of a Court of Appeals decision affirming the superior
court’s summary judgment dismissal of their declaratory relief, minimum wage,
and disparate impact claims regarding jury service in King County. 2 We affirm the
Court of Appeals.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Jurors have been provided payments pursuant to statute since 1881, before
Washington became a state. CODE OF 1881, § 2086. RCW 2.36.150 sets the range
for juror expense payments and directs the county legislative authorities to
determine the amount of the expense payment within that range. 3 King County,
1 In 2018, the legislature enacted LAWS OF 2018, ch. 23, § 1, amending RCW 2.36.080(3) and .080(4). Except when quoting language from the statute, this opinion cites to the current version of the statute. 2 Many organizations appeared as amici in this matter, filing the following amici briefs: a joint brief by Washington State Association of Counties and Washington State Association of County Clerks; a joint brief in support of petitioners by Washington Employment Lawyers Association, Fair Work Center, and Seattle University Workers’ Rights Clinic; the King County Department of Public Defense; a joint brief filed by American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, Washington Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, Civil Survival Project, Public Defender Association, South Asian Bar Association of Washington, Loren Miller Bar Association, Legal Voice, Washington Defender Association, and OneAmerica; a joint brief in support of petitioners by Public Justice and the American Association for Justice; and Washington State Association for Justice Foundation. 3 “Jurors shall receive for each day’s attendance, besides mileage . . ., the following expense payments:” g rand, petit, coroner’s , and district court jurors “may receive up to twenty- five dollars but in no case less than ten dollars.” RCW 2.36.150. under its legislative authority, has chosen to pay jurors in King County a $10
expense payment plus mileage reimbursement, which is the same statutory rate
jurors received in 1959. See LAWS OF 1959, ch. 73, § 1. Although the statute allows
an expense payment of up to $25 per day, King County, along with many other
counties, have chosen the statutory minimum of $10 per day. This daily rate falls
below Washington’s then minimum wage of $12 per hour ($84 for a seven-hour
work day). RCW 49.46.020(1)(c).
Historically, courts have struggled with poor juror summons response rates,
which is a complex problem with many contributors, including undeliverable
summons and low juror reimbursement. Studies have been conducted and
recommendations made to address the low juror response rates. In 2000, the
Washington State Jury Commission recommended that “legislation should be
drafted requiring that current fees be raised, with the increase funded by the state.”
WASH. STATE JURY COMM’ N, REPORT TO THE BOARD FOR JUDICIAL
ADMINISTRATION x (July 2000),
[https://perma.cc/4AVL-6YNV]. In 2006, the legislature authorized a research
project in select jurisdictions to assess whether increasing juror expense
reimbursement to $62 per day plus mileage reimbursement would improve juror
turnout. LAWS OF 2006, ch. 372, § 903. While the pilot project did not significantly improve juror turnout, the project also found that most jurors who did not respond
or serve were unaware of the increase. WASH. STATE CTR. FOR CT. RES., JUROR
RESEARCH PROJECT: REPORT TO THE WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE 4 (Dec.
In 2016, petitioners filed this class action complaint in Pierce County
Superior Court asserting claims against King County alleging that (1) jurors are
employees and entitled minimum wage and (2) RCW 2.36.080(3) creates an
implied cause of action for disparate impact based on economic status. 4 Petitioners
allege that low rates of expense reimbursement have a greater impact on low-
income jurors and assert that this causes many jurors to seek excusal on the basis
of financial hardship or to simply not respond to summons.
Factually, in 2012, petitioner Bednarczyk was summonsed for jury duty in
King County and sought and received a hardship excusal from jury service. 5 In
2015, Selin was summonsed and served 11 days of jury duty in King County. Selin
4 The complaint originally included claims by Ryan Rocha alleging racial discrimination under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, ch. 49.60 RCW, and under former RCW 2.36.080(3) (2015); however, these claims were voluntarily dismissed prior to summary judgment and are not included in this appeal. 5 It is claimed the excusal was for financial hardship because Bednarczyk’s employer did not compensate employees for time spent performing jury duty. The letter from petitioner Bednarczyk’s employer presented to the court that granted her hardship excusal request also provided that she was an essential figure at the small business who could not be spared. was self-employed. Selin would have received $110 plus mileage reimbursement at
King County’s current reimbursement rates.
Petitioners were included in the master jury list from which King County
randomly selects citizens for jury duty. 6 No challenge is asserted concerning the
methodology used to compile the list.
The superior court granted King County’s motion for summary judgment
and dismissed petitioners’ claims. Petitioners appealed. The Court of Appeals
affirmed in a 2-1 decision, holding that petitioners lacked standing under the
UDJA, there was no implied cause of action for disparate impact, and jurors were
not employees under the MWA. Judge Bjorgen dissented, opining that petitioners
met their burden of standing and that an implied cause of action existed for
disparate impact. The dissenting opinion did not address the MWA issue. Rocha v.
King County, 7 Wn. App. 2d 647, 435 P.3d 325, review granted, 193 Wn.2d 1017,
448 P.3d 664 (2019).
We review orders of summary judgment and statutory interpretation issues
de novo. Summary judgment is proper if, viewing facts and reasonable inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, no genuine issue of material
6 While petitioners assert they are representative of various classes, including an economic disparity class asserted by Bednarczyk, no class was certified prior to summary judgment and dismissal. fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Bostain
v. Food Express, Inc., 159 Wn.2d 700, 708, 153 P.3d 846 (2007).
First, we address whether petitioners have standing under the UDJA. We
find that standing is satisfied for the purpose of analyzing the claims asserted.
Standing is determined by a two part test: (1) whether the interest sought to
be protected is “‘ arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated
by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question’” and (2) whether the
petitioners have asserted “‘“ injury in fact.”’ ” Grant County Fire Prot. Dist. No. 5
v. City of Moses Lake, 150 Wn.2d 791, 802, 83 P.3d 419 (2004) (emphasis added)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Save a Valuable Env’t v. City of
Bothell, 89 Wn.2d 862, 866, 576 P.2d 401 (1978)). When we are faced with an
issue of significant public interest, standing is analyzed in terms of the public
interests presented, and we engage in a more liberal and less rigid analysis. See
Farris v. Munro, 99 Wn.2d 326, 330, 662 P.2d 821 (1983).
Standing for the petitioners’ UDJA claims is premised on the existence of
the statutory rights petitioners assert. Because we must analyze the merits of
petitioners’ arguments to determine whether petitioners have rights that could be
asserted in a UDJA claim, standing is satisfied for the purpose of analyzing these
claims, and we reach the merits. II
We next address whether jurors are employees for the purposes of minimum
wage. While the minimum wage and implied cause of action claims are related, our
analysis of the implied cause of action claim depends somewhat on our resolution
of whether jurors are employees under the MWA. We find, on several grounds,
that jurors are not employees under the MWA under chapter 49.46 RCW or
Turning to the statutory provisions, cases involving statutory interpretation
analysis begin with the statutory language. The MWA defines “employee” broadly
as “any individual employed by an employer” and defines “employ” as “to permit
to work.” RCW 49.46.010( 3), (2). Instead of being primarily defined by
employments included, the MWA carves out from the definition of “employee”
more narrow provisions that operate as exemptions. We construe MWA
exemptions narrowly; exemptions apply only to situations that are plainly and
unmistakably consistent with the terms and spirit of the legislation. Drinkwitz v.
Alliant Techsystems, Inc., 140 Wn.2d 291, 301, 996 P.2d 582 (2000). The MWA
excludes from the definition of “ employee”
[a]ny individual engaged in the activities of a . . . state or local governmental body or agency . . . where the employer-employee relationship does not in fact exist or where the services are rendered to such organizations gratuitously. If the individual receives reimbursement in lieu of compensation for normally incurred out-of- pocket expenses or receives a nominal amount of compensation per unit of voluntary service rendered, an employer-employee relationship is deemed not to exist for the purpose of this section.
RCW 49.46.010(3)(d). Based on this language, jurors are excluded from the
definition of “employee” because they receive reimbursement in lieu of
compensation while engaged in the activities of a local governmental body. The
legislature’s characterization of juror payments as expense payments in RCW
2.36.150 is consistent with this view. See also FINAL B. REP. ON SUBSTITUTE S.B.
6261, at 1, 58th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Wash. 2004) (“Juror compensation received by
federal employees must be credited against the employee’s pay. However,
payments made to reimburse jurors for their out-of-pocket expenses need not be
credited against an employee’s pay.”) .
Petitioners contend that this exception applies only to voluntary employees
rendering gratuitous services, partially relying on legislative history. See
Appellants’ Am. Opening Br. at 36-39 (Wash. Ct. App. No. 51823-6-II (2017)).
The second sentence of the above provision details circumstances where the
employer-employee relationship does not exist. Contrary to petitioners’ assertion,
this clause supplements the meaning of “employer -employee relationship” rather
than applying to only the gratuitous services portion outlined in the first sentence.
While the meaning of this provision may have its roots in reaching voluntary
employees, the meaning is also reflected in the statutory language used. The structure of this provision establishes that “v oluntary” applies only to
the nominal compensation clause and does not apply to the reimbursement clause
because the two clauses repeat the word “receives” and are separated by an “or.”
The statutory language in RCW 49.46.010(3)(d) provides that when no employer-
employee relationship exists, the MWA does not apply. Under the statutory
language, no employer-employee relationship exists where individuals are engaged
in the activities of a local governmental entity and are provided with
reimbursement in lieu of compensation, which is what occurs in the case of jurors
who receive expense reimbursements provided for under RCW 2.36.150.
In further support of their argument, petitioners rely on our decision in Bolin
v. Kitsap County, where we held that a juror who was injured in a car wreck
driving home from jury service was an employee acting within the scope of
employment and entitled to benefits under the Industrial Insurance Act (IIA), Title
51 RCW. 114 Wn.2d 70, 71-72, 785 P.2d 805 (1990). The Court of Appeals held
that Bolin was distinguishable because Bolin decided the status of jurors under the
IIA, not under the minimum wage provision at issue here. We agree.
Our holding in Bolin was not so broad as to extend outside the confines of
the IIA. Bolin focused on the specific language of the IIA and how the IIA “list[ed]
only employments excluded,” citing RCW 51.12.020. Bolin , 114 Wn.2d at 72
(“Jury service is not within the list of those employments excluded.”). Under this specific statutory analysis, Bolin held jurors were employees for IIA purposes.
Critically, the MWA definition of employee differs from the IIA because the “no
employer-employee” relationship provision under the MWA is not found in the
IIA. Bolin is limited to the status of jurors under the IIA and does not control the
analysis of the MWA.
Petitioners assert further that applying the “economic realities test” for
employment from Anfinson v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 174 Wn.2d
851, 281 P.3d 289 (2012), would result in the MWA applying to jurors, but we
need not reach the “economic realities test” because we find jurors are exempt
from the MWA under its express provisions. We do, however, note that jurors
occupy a unique and important place in our society. The United States Supreme
Court, and other courts, have recognized that “[j]ury service is a duty as well as a
privilege of citizenship; it is a duty that cannot be shirked on a plea of
inconvenience or decreased earning power.” Thiel v. S. Pac. Co., 328 U.S. 217,
224, 66 S. Ct. 984, 90 L. Ed. 1181 (1946). Jury service “‘affords ordinary citizens
a valuable opportunity to participate in a process of government . . . .’ Indeed, with
the exception of voting, for most citizens the honor and privilege of jury duty is
their most significant opportunity to participate in the democratic process.” Powers
v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 407, 111 S. Ct. 1364, 113 L. Ed. 2d 411 (1991) (quoting
Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 187, 88 S. Ct. 1444, 20 L. Ed. 2d 491 (1968) (Harlan, J., dissenting)). Indispensable to our system of government, jurors
represent a ground level exercise of our democratic values. State v. Saintcalle, 178
Wn.2d 34, 50, 309 P.3d 326 (2013) (plurality opinion).
Based on the unique nature of jury service, it follows that jurors are not
employees in the traditional sense of the term. Neither amici nor petitioners have
cited to any decision from any jurisdiction where a court has found jurors to be
employees for the purposes of minimum wage. By contrast, King County points
out several cases to the contrary. In Brouwer v. Metropolitan Dade County, the
court held that jurors were not employees for the purposes of the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219. 139 F.3d 817 (11th Cir. 1998). There, the
court adopted the reasoning of the district court and quoted the following in
support of its holding:
“ Jurors are completely different from state [or county] employees. Jurors do not apply for employment, but are randomly selected from voter registration lists. Jurors are not interviewed to determine who is better qualified for a position; the State summons all available persons who meet the basic requirements. . . . Jurors do not voluntarily tender their labor to the state, but are compelled to serve. Jurors are not paid a salary, rather they receive a statutorily mandated sum regardless of the number of hours worked. Jurors are not eligible for employment benefits, do not accrue vacation time, annual or sick leave and do not qualify for health or life insurance. The state does not have the power to fire jurors for poor performance, but must accept their verdict. In short, there is no indicia of an employment relationship between state court jurors and Dade County.” Brouwer, 139 F.3d at 819 (alterations in original). Other courts have similarly held
jurors are not employees for purposes of minimum wage. See, e.g., Patierno v.
State, 391 So.2d 391, 392-93 (1980); St. Clair v. Commonwealth, 451 S.W.3d 597,
622-23 (2014); North Carolina v. Setzer, 256 S.E.2d 485, 488 (1979). We agree.
We find that jurors are not employees entitled to minimum wage for the
purposes of the MWA because no employer-employee relationships exists
statutorily under RCW 49.46.010(3)(d) or otherwise.
The third issue raised is whether RCW 2.36.080(3) creates an implied cause
of action for disparate impact based on economic status, allowing jurors to seek
In determining whether a statute creates an implied cause of action, we use
the three-factor analysis established in Bennett v. Hardy, 113 Wn.2d 912, 920-21,
784 P.2d 1258 (1990). The factors are (1) whether the plaintiff is within the class
for whose “‘ especial’ ” benefit the statute was enacted, (2) whether legislative
intent supports creating or denying a remedy, and (3) whether implying a remedy
is consistent with the underlying purpose of the legislation. Bennett, 113 Wn.2d at
920. We have reasoned that the common law may establish a remedy where a
statute provides a right but does not provide a specific remedy. Bennett, 113 Wn.2d
at 919-21. Petitioners here seek an implied remedy for a prospective juror’s right to protection from exclusion based on economic status under former RCW
2.36.080(3). Petitioners make no challenge to the expense payment provision under
RCW 2.36.150 (between $10 and $25 per day plus mileage), but they assert that an
implied cause of action exists for jurors to sue for increased payments under RCW
2.36.080(3) in addition to the expense reimbursement payments authorized under
Former RCW 2.36.080 (2015) provides the following regarding jurors:
(1) It is the policy of this state that all persons selected for jury service be selected at random from a fair cross section of the population . . ., and that all qualified citizens have the opportunity . . . to be considered for jury service in this state and have an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose. (2) It is the policy of this state to maximize the availability of residents of the state for jury service. It also is the policy of this state to minimize the burden on the prospective jurors, their families, and employers resulting from jury service. The jury term and jury service should be set at as brief an interval as is practical given the size of the jury source list for the judicial district. The optimal jury term is one week or less. Optimal juror service is one day or one trial, whichever is longer. (3) A citizen shall not be excluded from jury service in this state on account of . . . economic status. (4) This section does not affect the right to peremptory challenges under RCW 4.44.130.
In Bennett, former employees sued their employer, who employed fewer
than eight employees, alleging age discrimination. Because their employer had
fewer than eight employees, no cause of action existed under the Washington Law
Against Discrimination (WLAD), ch. 49.60 RCW, that by its express terms applied only to employers with eight or more employees. However, a separate statute,
RCW 49.44.090 declared age discrimination to be an unfair practice. We held that
RCW 49.44.090 created an implied cause of action for age discrimination and that
no legislative intent existed indicating the WLAD intended to limit the application
of RCW 49.44.090. In reaching this holding, we relied on the Restatement
(Second) of Torts § 874A (Am. Law Inst. 1979), which provided that
“[ w]hen a legislative provision protects a class of persons by proscribing or requiring certain conduct but does not provide a civil remedy for the violation, the court may, if it determines that the remedy is appropriate in furtherance of the purpose of the legislation and needed to assure the effectiveness of the provision, accord to an injured member of the class a right of action.”
Bennett, 113 Wn.2d at 920. We borrowed the three factors from the federal implied
cause of action test. Applying these factors, we noted that RCW 49.44.090
established a clear legislative intent and purpose aimed at confronting the problem
of age discrimination.
The Court of Appeals opinions below diverged on how these factors apply.
Both the majority and dissent found the first factor was satisfied. The majority
found the second and third factors were not satisfied, reasoning the legislature
intended to protect only the opportunity to serve and did not intend to guarantee
the financial ability to serve. The dissent disagreed, reasoning that limiting the
protection from exclusion to the opportunity to serve would permit intentional
exclusion based on economic status so long as jurors were included on the master jury list. The dissent found the second and third factors were satisfied, reasoning
King County created a structural incentive for jurors to request hardship excusals
by not paying above the statutory rates.
When analyzing the express statutory provisions, it is difficult to find that
the statute, allowing hardship excusals through its intended operation, works to
effect a systematic exclusion of jurors based on economic status. Nothing in the
statutory language of RCW 2.36.080 can be read to be exclusory. Subsection (1)
contains language adopting a policy about as express and inclusive as could be
written. RCW 2.36.080(1) (“ [A]ll qualified citizens have the opportunity . . . to be
considered for jury service . . . .” (emphasis added)). Subsection (2) expresses a
policy of maximizing participation and minimizing the burdens of jury service.
And subsection (3) expresses that exclusion shall not be based on economic status
or other protected statuses.
It makes no logical sense to read subsection (3) to imply a cause of action
for economic status discrimination where the provision says the opposite— the
purported “exclusion” occurs because judges grant hardship requests made by
jurors under RCW 2.36.100. Even when we engage in an in-depth Bennett factor
analysis, construing the facts in the light most favorable to petitioners’ assertion
that low-income jurors are forced to make hardship requests because of the low
rate of compensation, no implied cause of action can be found. As to the first Bennett factor, the statute protects citizens from being
excluded from jury service on account of economic status. We need not engage in
a detailed analysis of this factor because even if we assumed this factor was
satisfied it would not change the result as we find that the other two factors of the
Bennett test are not met.
To aid in our analysis, it instructive to look to the case from which Bennett
borrowed the three-factor test. Regarding the second and third factors, the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that
[p]laintiffs must establish that Congress intended to provide for the private remedy which they ask us to imply or at least that it is consistent with the legislative scheme. While a private remedy may be inferred from the plain language of the statute, the statutory structure, or some other source, we “‘will not engraft a remedy on a statute, no matter how salutary, that Congress did not intend to provide,’” even if the plaintiff can show that he is a member of the class for whose benefit the statute was enacted and that there is no state-law impediment to implication of a remedy.
In re Wash. Pub. Power Supply Sys. Sec. Litig., 823 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir.
1987) (quoting Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Russell, 473 U.S. 134, 145, 105 S. Ct.
3085, 87 L. Ed. 2d 96 (1985) (quoting California v. Sierra Club, 451 U.S. 287,
297, 101 S. Ct. 1775, 68 L. Ed. 2d 101 (1981))) (the second and third factors were
also referred to as “congressional intent” and “statutory consistency” ). The above
suggests that the second Bennett factor requires us to determine whether legislative
intent supports implying the requested remedy, rather than any remedy, and suggests that the third Bennett factor looks to the entire statutory scheme to
determine whether the requested remedy is consistent.
Here, as to the second factor, even though legislative intent may slightly
support an implied remedy for jurors who are excluded on the basis of a protected
characteristic under RCW 2.36.080(3), it does not support the requested remedy of
increased juror pay. The language of the statute evidences an intent to prohibit acts
of exclusion, rather than requiring counties to pay minimum wage to discourage
jurors from self-excluding by seeking hardship excusals.
Further, the statutory term “excluded” implies that direct action must be
taken to “exclude.” “ Exclude” is defined as “to shut out,” “to bar from
participation, enjoyment, consideration, or inclusion,” “to put out,” or “to eject.”
WEBSTER’ S THIRD NEW INT’ L DICTIONARY 793 (2002). The statutory language and
overall statutory scheme express a policy of inclusion and cannot be read to mean
the opposite. If we accepted petitioners’ argument, the meaning of exclude would
encompass the hardship excusals under RCW 2.36.100 and judges would be, in
effect, “exclud ing” jurors every time a hardship excusal was granted.
Petitioners assert that Thiel 7 and Taylor 8 support implying a cause of action
for the alleged exclusion in this case. However, Thiel and Taylor support
7 Thiel, 328 U.S. at 224. 8 Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 523, 95 S. Ct. 692, 42 L. Ed. 2d 690 (1975). prohibiting express acts of exclusion rather than supporting requiring counties to
pay above the statutory rates in an effort to discourage jurors from self-excluding.
In Thiel, the county excluded daily wage earners prior to summonsing because the
county predicted such wage earners would seek hardship exemptions. Thiel, 328
U.S. at 224. In Taylor, women were required to opt-in before being summonsed for
jury duty, thus excluding women by keeping them off the juror lists until they
opted-in. 419 U.S. at 523. In both Thiel and Taylor, jurors were not summonsed
and thus excluded from the opportunity to serve. Here, by contrast, petitioners
were included on the master jury list and either served or self-excluded by
requesting a hardship excusal.
Petitioners argue that because former RCW 2.36.080(2) establishes a policy
of maximizing juror availability and minimizing the burden on “prospective jurors,
their families, and employers,” a cause of action for increased juror pay furthers
legislative intent. However, the sentences that follow these provisions provide a
policy of setting jury terms as short as possible, evidencing an intent to provide
more narrow methods for accomplishing the policies under RCW 2.36.080(2). The
statute does not create any exclusion. Rather than exclude by low rates of juror
pay, the statute includes all eligible persons for summonsing regardless of
economic status. The legislative history also provides evidence that juror compensation was
not intended to be connected to minimum wage. When the legislature amended
RCW 2.36.080, adding the economic status protection, it also amended RCW
2.36.150, establishing that counties reimburse jurors between $10 and $25 per day.
LAWS OF 1979, 1ST EX. SESS., ch. 135, §§ 6, 7. In 1979, Washington’s minimum
wage was $2.30 per hour, which amounts to $16.10 for a seven-hour day. LAWS OF
1975, 1ST EX. SESS., ch. 289, § 2(1). The same legislature that enacted the
protection upon which petitioners rely amended RCW 2.36.150, explicitly
authorizing counties to reimburse jurors for each day of service at a rate based on
daily attendance, not a rate based on “hours worked. ”
As to the third Bennett factor, the overall statutory scheme does not support
implying the requested remedy of increased juror pay. The discussion of the
second factor above somewhat applies to our analysis of the third factor. As King
County argues and the Court of Appeals majority held, RCW 2.36.080(1) does not
support implying an increase in pay because it establishes a policy that “qualified
citizens have the opportunity . . . to be considered for jury service,” which suggests
this policy is limited to the master jury list. Rocha, 7 Wn. App. 2d at 654
(alteration in original). The dissenting Court of Appeals opinion opined that the
protection from exclusion under RCW 2.36.080(3) cannot be limited to the
opportunity to serve because such a reading would allow intentional acts of exclusion so long as jurors were included on the master jury list. While this
argument has some merit, the policy articulated in .080(1) applies only to the
opportunity to serve by its express language. Applying a broad interpretation to the
protection from exclusion under .080(3) does not expand the reach of the policy
articulated under .080(1).
We find no legislative intent to support an implied cause of action allowing
jurors to seek a remedy for damages or requiring increased pay. RCW 2.36.080
contains no reference to compensation. Instead, RCW 2.36.150 sets rates of
reimbursement, and the legislature provided an option for jurors who would still
experience significant hardship despite short jury terms—excusal on a showing of
“ undue hardship” under RCW 2. 36.100. (Emphasis added.) We hold RCW
2.36.080(3) does not create an implied cause of action to allow jurors to sue for
increased reimbursement rates.
Finally, petitioners and various amici urge this court to invoke our inherent
judicial authority—independent of the statutes at issue — to require paying jurors at
increased rates. The most relevant case relied on for this argument is In re Salary
of Juvenile Director, 87 Wn.2d 232, 251, 552 P.2d 163 (1976). 9 We need not and
9 While judges and the legal community have recognized for years that a $10 expense reimbursement rate for jurors is embarrassingly low, the solution has consistently been to request do not, however, reach these arguments because they exceed the scope of this case,
not having been raised in the complaint or the courts below. 10 Further, any exercise
of our inherent authority in the area of juror pay would likely impact counties
across the entire state, and this case is limited to claims against King County, not
the other 38 counties or the state as a whole.
While we do not reach the inherent authority arguments, we take this
opportunity to comment that low juror reimbursement is a serious issue that has
contributed to poor juror summons response rates. The concerns raised by amici
and petitioners as to the impact of low juror reimbursement on juror diversity, low-
income jurors, and the administration of justice as a whole are valid points. While
we should continue to cooperate with the other branches of government in an effort
to address the long-standing problems identified by petitioners and amici, these
concerns are best resolved in the legislative arena.
the legislature to amend (and raise) the rate established under RCW 2.36.150. Similarly, Juvenile Director encourages interbranch cooperation and warns against the unrestrained exercise of our inherent judicial authority at the expense of the public’s confidence and trust in the judiciary. 10 Clerk’s Papers at 155 -96; Report of Proceedings at 6 (During the summary judgment hearing, Mr. Needle, counsel for petitioners, stated, “W e agree that this is a matter for the legislature . . . . We’re simply asking the Court to interpret the statute and nothing more.”) . No. 96990-6
YU, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part) — I agree with the
majority that the plaintiffs have standing pursuant to RCW 7.24.010, that jurors are
not employees pursuant to the Minimum Wage Act, ch. 49.46 RCW, and that
RCW 2.36.080(3) does not create an implied cause of action for increased juror
However, I cannot join the majority’s analysis of the Bennett factors. See
Bennett v. Hardy, 113 Wn.2d 912, 920-21, 784 P.2d 1258 (1990). Specifically, I
agree with the dissent that a $10 per day reimbursement rate for juror pay
systematically excludes individuals from jury service based on their economic
status. As a result, our jury pools do not adhere to the state’s policy that jurors are
selected from “a fair cross section of the population.” RCW 2.36.080(1). That
being said, RCW 2.36.080(3) does not create a private right of action for increased
juror pay to remedy this exclusion. To the extent that the statute may imply some other cause of action, that question is not before the court in this case. I therefore
respectfully concur in part and dissent in part.
I agree with the majority that the second and third factors of the Bennett test
do not support an implied cause of action for increased juror pay pursuant to RCW
2.36.080(3). Majority at 16-17. However, I do not agree that excusal is voluntary
and therefore not exclusory. Id. at 15. All too often inadequate juror
compensation is a barrier to jury service that disproportionately impacts low
income and minority populations. I would hold that the system is exclusory, but
the remedy for this exclusion lies with the legislature, not with the courts.
A. The plaintiffs are within the class for whose special benefit the statute was enacted
The majority does not decide whether the plaintiffs satisfied the first prong
of the Bennett test. Id. at 16. Instead the majority asserts that no analysis of this
factor is required “because even if we assumed this factor was satisfied it would
not change the result.” Id . On this point, I would hold that the Court of Appeals
properly determined that “the plain language of the statute protects people from
being excluded from jury service based on economic status,” therefore the
plaintiffs are within the class for whose benefit RCW 2.36.080(3) was enacted. Rocha v. King County, 7 Wn. App. 2d 647, 654, 435 P.3d 325 (2019); see also
dissent at 3.
B. Economically distressed jurors are systematically excluded from jury service, but their remedy is not an implied cause of action for increased juror pay pursuant to RCW 2.36.080(3)
I agree with the majority that RCW 2.36.080(3)’s legislative intent “does not
support the requested remedy of increased juror pay” and that “the overall statutory
scheme does not support implying the requested remedy of increased juror pay.”
Majority at 17, 19. Furthermore, I agree with the State that implying a cause of
action for increased juror pay would impermissibly intrude on the legislature’s
budgetary authority. Resp’t King County’s Suppl. Br. at 15- 17. This is not to say,
however, that RCW 2.36.080(3) provides no private right of action whatsoever. It
is only to say that the statute does not create the specific private right of action at
issue in this case.
Although I join the majority’s holding that the plaintiffs do not satisfy the
second and third prongs of the Bennett test, I do not agree with its reasoning.
Specifically, I do not agree with the majority’s assertion that “it is difficult to find
that the statute, allowing hardship excusals through its intended operation, works to
effect a systematic exclusion of jurors based on economic status.” Majority at 15.
To the contrary, the pernicious effect of low juror compensation is the systematic
exclusion of all qualified citizens who simply cannot afford to participate. This is not a new revelation. In 2017 the Minority and Justice Commission
studied jury diversity in Washington State. The commission’s Jury Diversity Task
Force determined that “financial hardship is the second highest reason to excuse a
potential juror, behind undeliverable summonses.” J URY DIVERSITY TASK FORCE,
MINORITY & JUST. COMM’ N, 2019 INTERIM REPORT 3 (2019),
%20Interim%20Report.pdf [https://perma.cc/UDJ5-TFFB]. Further, the task force
highlighted the concerning nexus between race and poverty that impacts jury
service, noting that “lower income and minority populations are disproportionally
affected by the financial hardships of jury service” and “are dispropor tionately
likely to seek economic hardship excusals.” Id . at 3, 2. Thus, the result is racially
disproportionate juries. Given these findings, I cannot agree with the majority that
the statute doesn’t effectuate exclusion simply because “[n]othing in the statutory
language of former RCW 2.36.080 can be read to be exclusory.” Majority at 15.
Relatedly, the majority cites RCW 2.36.150’s legislative history as evidence
that “juror compensation was not intended to be connected to minimum wage.” Id .
at 19 (emphasis added). The majority notes that the legislature amended RCW
2.36.150 in 1979 to establish a county reimbursement rate between $10 and $25
per day and explains that “[i]n 1979, Washington’s minimum wage was $2.30 per
hour, which amounts to $16.10 for a seven-hour day.” Id. While a compensation rate between $10 and $25 per day may not have been directly tied to the minimum
wage, it is significant that the reimbursement rate was much closer to the minimum
wage when the statute was amended. Today, the statewide minimum wage is
$13.50 per hour, which amounts to $94.50 for a seven-hour day. RCW
49.46.020(1)(d). In King County, where jurors are paid $10 per day, the minimum
compensation is even higher. 1 Consequently, a King County worker earning
$15.75 per hour makes $110.25 over the course of a seven-hour work day. This in
turn means that prospective jurors must choose between meaningful earnings and
civic participation that offers a small fraction of their daily compensation.
Furthermore, as inflation and the cost of living continue to climb, a $10 daily
reimbursement rate means that jurors will increasingly find jury service out of
reach if their employer is unable to offer comparable compensation as an incentive
for jurors to serve.
For these reasons, I would hold that RCW 2.36.080(3) does in fact exclude
jurors from service on the basis of their economic status. While the statute does
not guarantee a seat on a jury if summoned, current compensation rates virtually
guarantee that juries will not represent a fair cross section of our communities
1 Employers with fewer than 500 employees must offer a $13.50 minimum wage and $15.75 per hour minimum compensation, which includes paid health care or extra wages. KING COUNTY CODE 3.18.050-.060. when the selection of jurors favors those who can afford to serve. This vexing
problem has a clear solution; however, the remedy does not lie with the courts.
I would hold that the plaintiffs have standing and that jurors are not
employees for purposes of the Minimum Wage Act. Further, I would hold that
RCW 2.36.080(3) does not create an implied cause of action for increased juror
pay because the second and third prongs of the Bennett test are not satisfied. That
being said, we must acknowledge that inadequate juror compensation
systematically excludes low income jurors, to the detriment of our justice system.
It is time for the legislature to revisit this issue. I therefore respectfully concur in
part and dissent in part. No. 96990-6
GONZÁLEZ, J. (dissenting)—The constitutional right to a fair jury
drawn from a representative cross section of society is a fundamental
component of our democratic system. CONST. art. I, §§ 21, 22; U.S. CONST.
amend. VI. The benefits of jury service to the court, to the community, and
to the jurors themselves would be hard to overstate. As Alexis de
Tocqueville wrote nearly two centuries ago:
“[T]he institution of the jury raises the people itself, or at least a class of citizens, to the bench of judicial authority [and] invests the people, or that class of citizens, with the direction of society.
. . . .
“. . . The jury . . . invests each citizen with a kind of magistracy; it makes them all feel the duties which they are bound to discharge towards society; and the part which they take in the Government. By obliging [individuals] to turn their attention to affairs which are not exclusively their own, it rubs off that individual egotism which is the rust of society.
. . . .
“I do not know whether the jury is useful to those who are in litigation; but I am certain it is highly beneficial to those who decide the litigation; and I look upon it as one of the most efficacious means for the education of the people which society can employ.” Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 407, 111 S. Ct. 1364, 113 L. Ed. 2d 411
(1991) (most alterations in original) (quoting 1 ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE,
DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA 334-37 (Schocken 1st ed. 1961)).
Unfortunately, the citizen’s right to jury service and the litigant’s right
to a jury drawn from a fair cross section of society has been sharply limited
through our history. Through much of that history, jury service and the jury
selection process were anything but democratic. JEFFREY ABRAMSON, WE,
THE JURY: THE JURY SYSTEM AND THE IDEAL OF DEMOCRACY 2-3 (1994).
As we strive, however imperfectly, to build a more perfect union, we
must strive toward building more representative juries. See, e.g., City of
Seattle v. Erickson, 188 Wn.2d 721, 723-24, 398 P.3d 1124 (2017) (citing
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69 (1986));
State v. Lanciloti, 165 Wn.2d 661, 667-68, 201 P.3d 323 (2009). Given our
society’s history, our legislature has wisely recognized that jurors may not
be excluded based on their membership in any protected class or on their
economic status. RCW 2.36.080.
Despite this wise recognition that jurors should not be excluded
because of economic status, the token King County pays jurors, $10 per day
plus minor transportation reimbursement, accomplishes the very exclusion
forbidden by law. When a seemingly neutral practice results in a systematic
exclusion of a protected category of persons, it is discriminatory. 1
1 The majority suggests that the fact the jurors themselves request to be excluded from jury service means that they are not excluded by law. I disagree. The fact that the individual juror is put in the sad position of having to request an excuse because of Properly understood, the jurors’ rights a ct, RCW 2.36.080, prevents
discrimination based on economic status. A cause of action is implicit. We
may—and in this case should— imply a cause of action when a statute
protects an identifiable group of people but contains no explicit enforcement
mechanism. Bennett v. Hardy, 113 Wn.2d 912, 920-21, 784 P.2d 1258
(1990). We will find a cause of action when (1) the plaintiff is within the
class for whose special benefit the statute was passed, (2) when legislative
intent, explicitly or implicitly, supports creating a remedy, and (3) when a
remedy is consistent with the underlying purpose of the legislation.
The plaintiffs are within the class intended to be protected by the
jurors’ rights act. The act specifically states that “[a] citizen shall not be
excluded from jury service in this state on account . . . of economic status.”
RCW 2.36.080(3). True, the act, like our constitutional system, requires
representational jury pools and fairly selected jurors for more than just the
jurors’ sake. See Powers, 499 U.S. at 407. “We hav e juries for many
reasons, not the least of which is that it is a ground level exercise of
democratic values.” State v. Saintcalle , 178 Wn.2d 34, 50, 309 P.3d 326
foreseeable economic hardship does not exculpate the system that necessitates the request. As Judge Bjorgen wisely wrote in his dissent:
Jury service is a full time job that can extend from less than a day to weeks. For those with low paying jobs without leave for this purpose, the cost of jury service may be a missed rent payment or skipped meals. For those without understanding employers, jury service may come at the cost of a job. Faced with such risk, the choice to exclude oneself is hardly voluntary.
Rocha v. King County, 7 Wn. App. 2d 647, 665, 435 P.3d 325, review granted, 193 Wn.2d 1017 (2019). I agree. (2013) (Wiggins, J., lead opinion). Fully representational jury pools and
fairly selected juries are also required to make our trials fair, our judgments
legitimate, and our democracy inclusive. “When any large and identifiable
segment of the community is excluded from jury service, the effect is to
remove from the jury room qualities of human nature and varieties of human
experience, the range of which is unknown and perhaps unknowable.”
Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493, 503, 92 S. Ct. 2163, 33 L. Ed. 2d 83 (1972).
But inclusion is also for the individual jurors’ sake; it gives them the dignity
of participating in the judgments of our constitutional republic that their
economic status might otherwise limit. See Powers, 499 U.S. at 407;
Saintcalle, 178 Wn.2d at 50. 2
The legislative intent plainly stated in the Jurors’ Rights Act supports
creating a remedy. The legislature has told us its intent:
(1) It is the policy of this state that all persons selected for jury service be selected at random from a fair cross section of the population of the area served by the court, and that all qualified citizens have the opportunity in accordance with chapter 135, Laws of 1979 ex. sess. to be considered for jury service in this state and have an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose.
2 As a jurist once wisely observed:
We have juries for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is a ground level exercise of democratic values. The government does not get to decide who goes to the lockup or even the gallows. Ordinary citizens exercise that right as a matter of democracy. In England, the jury developed into juries of one's peers, coming from one's community. This is the grand heritage of the jury system. Saintcalle, 178 Wn.2d at 50 (Wiggins, J., lead opinion) (2) It is the policy of this state to maximize the availability of residents of the state for jury service. It also is the policy of this state to minimize the burden on the prospective jurors, their families, and employers resulting from jury service. The jury term and jury service should be set at as brief an interval as is practical given the size of the jury source list for the judicial district. The optimal jury term is one week or less. Optimal juror service is one day or one trial, whichever is longer.
RCW 2.36.080. Taken as a whole, .080 articulates the legislature’ s intent
that the burdens and benefits of jury service be distributed widely and that
every eligible citizen have the opportunity to be considered. The legislature
explicitly meant to include those with economic hardship in jury pools and
created rights in those with economic hardships that must be respected.
RCW 2.36.080(3). Without a remedy, this policy will not be fulfilled.
Those facing economic hardship will ask to be excused, and judges will
properly grant the request. Denying a remedy will make the protections of
.080(3) meaningless, which we will not do. See Whatcom County v. City of
Bellingham, 128 Wn.2d 537, 546, 909 P.2d 1303 (1996) (citing Stone v.
Chelan County Sheriff’s Dep’ t, 110 Wn.2d 806, 810, 756 P.2d 736 (1988)).
A remedy is consistent with this purpose. The low pay and low
reimbursement rate amounts to an exclusion on the basis of economic status,
denying such jurors the opportunity to serve as promised in RCW
2.36.080(1). The only meaningful way to accomplish the legislature’s
purpose of giving everyone the opportunity to serve is by creating a
mechanism to vindicate those rights. A name on a master list is not
meaningful service. Since the jurors’ rights act contains an implied remedy, the trial court erred in concluding otherwise. Thus, I would reverse its
conclusion to the contrary.
I respectfully disagree with the majority that jurors’ pay is limited to
$25 per day under RCW 2.36.150. While the statute is not a model of
clarity, read in full, it concerns reimbursement from the State. See RCW
2.36.150(4). Nothing would prevent the County from supplementing what
the State requires.
I do agree with the majority that these plaintiffs have standing to bring
their jurors’ rights act claim in a declaratory judgment action under RCW
7.24.010. Under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, the court has the
power to declare rights. RCW 7.24.010. Plaintiffs have standing under the
Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act (1) when they are within the zone of
interests protected or regulated by the statute and (2) when they have
suffered an injury in fact. Am. Legion Post No. 149 v. Dep’ t of Health, 164
Wn.2d 570, 593-94, 192 P.3d 306 (2008) (quoting Grant County Fire Prot.
Dist. No. 5 v. City of Moses Lake, 150 Wn.2d 791, 802, 83 P.3d 419 (2004)).
For the same reasons the jurors’ rights a ct contains an implied
remedy, these plaintiffs are within the zone of interests the act protects.
They have a right to the opportunity to serve. The low pay and
reimbursement rate effectively deny them that right. The statute operates in
that zone. Similarly, their systematic exclusion from the pool is an injury
that these plaintiffs have suffered. They are being denied one of the
fundamental tasks of a citizen in our democracy. Declaratory judgment is
available. I respectfully dissent.