When the jury is selected the court may direct the selection of one or more additional jurors, in its discretion, to be known as alternate jurors. Each party shall be entitled to one peremptory challenge for each alternate juror to be selected. When several defendants are on trial together, each defendant shall be entitled to one challenge in addition to the challenge provided above, with discretion in the trial judge to afford the prosecution such additional challenges as circumstances warrant. If at any time before submission of the case to the jury a juror is found unable to perform the duties the court shall order the juror discharged, and the clerk shall draw the name of an alternate who shall take the jurors place on the jury.

Alternate jurors who do not replace a regular juror may be discharged or temporarily excused after the jury retires to consider its verdict. When jurors are temporarily excused but not discharged, the trial judge shall take appropriate steps to protect alternate jurors from influence, interference or publicity, which might affect that jurors ability to remain impartial and the trial judge may conduct brief voir dire before seating such alternate juror for any trial or deliberations. Such alternate juror may be recalled at any time that a regular juror is unable to serve, including a second phase of any trial that is bifurcated. If the jury has commenced deliberations prior to replacement of an initial juror with an alternate juror, the jury shall be instructed to disregard all previous deliberations and begin deliberations anew.

Comment: Supersedes RCW 10.49.070.