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Posts tagged: juror

A $5 million question: Could juror’s death have been prevented?

When 84-year-old Kay Mita got a jury summons, he regarded it as a sign the government was acknowledging a six-decades-old injustice. His first day of jury service, however, turned out to be the last day of his life.
Now the widow and son of a juror who died of exposure on the courthouse steps have filed a $5 million claim with the county, a possible prelude to a federal lawsuit against the county and Guardsmark LLC, which provides security at the courthouse.
Steve Bartel, the county’s risk manager, said his office is reviewing the claim to determine whether the county has any liability in what he acknowledged is “a terrible event.”
Mita reported for jury duty the morning of Nov. 26, 2007, left the jury room for the lunch break, but didn’t return at the scheduled time. He apparently became confused and disoriented, and was unable to find his car parked less than a block away. He wandered around the courthouse and its grounds for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Although his family reported him missing about 7 p.m., neither Spokane police who are in the adjoining building nor courthouse security guards who allowed him to stay in the building until it closed knew of the missing person report.
Mita stayed near the courthouse in snow and sub-freezing weather overnight until he died of hypothermia. His body was found the next morning, sitting near the steps of the courthouse’s south entrance.
“There’s some pretty confusing details I’m trying to figure out,” Bartel said. “Could we have done something different?”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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