Jury Duty Guide

Responding to the Summons

1. The first step in the jury duty process will be responding to the summons via mail.

2. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire that may include questions such as:

  • Age and date of birth?
  • Are you a citizen of the US?
  • Do you speak English?
  • Do you hold an elected position in public office?
  • Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a felony?
  • Do you have a disability that would interfere with serving on the jury?

3. There is also room for you to write about any commitments you may have that would conflict with service. The answers you write for the questionnaire will be used in the selection process.

4. The summons will also include a phone number that you can call to see what time and date you are required to show up for jury selection.

Jury selection

1. Reporting to the courthouse is the last step of jury selection. This process will choose the final people who will represent the jury for the specific trial.

2. The following exemptions apply for getting out of jury duty:

  • If you are 70 years of age or older.
  • If you a volunteer firefighter, EMT or rescue squad member.
  • If you care for young children or the elderly and your absence will put them at risk.
  • If you are an attorney, physician, dentist or nurse.
  • If you do not have access to a car and are unable to use public transportation.

3. Not responding to a summons is a crime. A person who fails to respond may be ordered by the court to appear at their own expense to make a case on why they failed to comply with the summons. Fines up to $100 or imprisonment of up to three days may also apply.

4. Those required to show up for selection will usually be told a time early in the morning around 8 am.

5. Once you arrive you will be put through courthouse security. Metal detectors, x-ray machines, detection wands and officers will check you and your belongings before you enter.

6. After you pass security you will be directed to the jury assembly room where roll call will be taken.

7. After roll call a court employee may ask if anyone has a problem that would keep them from serving. If you have a legitimate reason you will be questioned by a court employee and may be excused from that case. You may be asked to report again on another date.

8. A short orientation will take place explaining the selection process, legal technicalities will be explained along with restrictions. Compensation will also be explained during this time:

  • Federal court typically pays $40 each day plus reimbursement for parking. State or county courts may pay $6 a day plus parking.

9. After orientation those who are remaining will be asked to line up in a specific order into the courtroom. The judge will give instructions and then the questioning of jurors will begin. You will be sworn in and be asked questions that are designed to reveal any conflict of interest with that specific case. You may be asked questions in regards to these topics:

  • Your employment.
  • Your family and relationships.
  • If you have any friends/family in law enforcement.
  • About your personal beliefs in the jury system.
  • If you have ever been convicted of a crime.

10. The final decision comes after questioning and a short break. The judge and attorneys will then decided which jurors will be excused for legitimate conflicts with the case.

11. The names of the chosen will be called by the judge and be directed to a seat in the jury box. Those who are not chosen will be excused.

The Trial Begins

1. After the process of jury selection the trial will get underway immediately.

2. Opening arguments will begin and you will hear from both the prosecution and the defense.

3. The judge will give an welcoming statement and instructions about deciding on a verdict to the jury.

4. You will be encouraged to take notes through out the trial and most of the time a note book and pen will be provided.

5. At the end of each day you will get instructions on specific restrictions you must adhere to as a juror. These may include:

  • No discussing the case with other parties involved, family, employer the media or even other jurors.
  • You can not read about the case in the news.
  • You can not accept favors from anyone involved in the case.
  • You are not allowed to visit locations associated with the trial.
  • You can not preform background checks or research public records on people involved with the trial.

6. After the jury is seated the order of the trial will go as follows:

  • Opening statements.
  • Evidence is presented by the prosecution.
  • Evidence is presented by the defense.
  • Rebuttal witnesses may be called.
  • Closing arguments.
  • Jury instruction.
  • Jury deliberation.
  • Jury verdict.

Other resources regarding court and jury duty:

Jury Rights Summary

History of Jury Nullification

What is a Jury?

Jury Duty laws regarding employment

Glossary of Terms Commonly Used in Court

Court Reporting Schools

Jurors' Handbook