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Clerk of Court
Jury Duty
Jury Duty Frequently Asked Questions
What is expected of me as a juror?

Your basic responsibility is to protect the rights, privileges, and liberties of each person when handing down the verdict. A fair, impartial, and just verdict depends upon the combined efforts of the jury as fact finders, the judge as presiding officer, and the authority of the law with the lawyers as examiners and advocates. While the judge will instruct you on the law of each case, you will judge the facts. It is up to you and your fellow jurors to reach a fair and just verdict. In all cases the verdict rendered must be unanimous. When members of the jury are sworn in, they virtually become judges of every question of fact in the case and are part of the legal mechanism determining the facts from the evidence presented to them. The juror is duty bound to act fairly and impartially and to follow the instructions of the judge.

There's another serious responsibility of the juror – confidentiality. During the course of the trial, especially prior to final deliberations, the judge will advise you that it is your duty not to speak to anyone about anything that has occurred in the courtroom. That includes your husband, your wife, and even other jurors. The only time you may discuss the trial is at the end after the judge has instructed you on the law and directed you to begin deliberations. Discussing the case outside the jury room can be an act of contempt punishable by fine or imprisonment. Please be sure that while you are in the courtroom, elevators, corridors, lunchrooms, or anywhere, that you do not talk to lawyers, their clients, reporters, or anyone else interested in any way with the trial of the case. Should you believe that someone has purposefully tried to talk to you about the case it is your responsibility to relate the incident to the judge immediately. A prudent policy for you to follow is for you to avoid even the appearance of an improper discussion. Please don't be offended if the attorneys and court staff do not talk to you – they have been instructed not to do so.

You should also be aware that it would violate your duty as a juror to conduct your own investigation of the case. You should not visit the scene of an accident or alleged crime or make any attempt to question witnesses. You may not read newspapers, watch television, listen to radio accounts, or conduct internet research until the case is over. Only after a verdict has been reached and you have been dismissed by the judge are you free to conduct research.

I don’t want to serve on jury duty. What do I do?

Unless you are disqualified, exempted, or have been notified by the Clerk of Court that you have been excused by the judge you are required to appear in court at the day and time specified on the jury summons. Failure to appear may result in a citation for contempt of court, and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. Persons seeking to be excused must submit their request in writing when returning the jury summons. If you are not contacted by the clerk of court as to your written request, you are required to appear on the date and time of your summons. You may also present your request to the judge in person on the first day of the jury term you are scheduled to appear.

How long do I have to serve?

Your service will normally be only for one week. Numerous courts may be in session during the term for which you have been selected to serve. Cases set for trial may be postponed or settled just as they are scheduled to begin, and other cases may be moved up on the Jury Trial Roster. Since it is impossible to predict the outcome of the cases on the roster, you should plan to be with us the entire week. The hours of court operation are determined by the presiding judge; however, court generally begins each day approximately 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. and adjourns at approximately 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. At the end of each day or if dismissed earlier, you should make sure that you know where and/or at what time to return or at what time to call the special jury information phone line that you will be given when you report on the first day.

Will I definitely sit in on a trial when I perform jury duty?

It is unlikely that every juror summoned will actually serve on a jury in the trial of a case. Many cases will be disposed of before trial, however your presence and willingness to serve is crucial to the system, whether or not you actually serve on a jury.

All jury trials begin with a process called voir dire, which means "to speak the truth". Voir dire is the method by which juries are selected. The judge will question prospective jurors concerning the possible relationships they may have with the parties involved, or if they have any prior knowledge of the facts of the case. The purpose of the process is to identify jurors whose past experience, relationships, or knowledge might keep them from being completely fair in deciding the facts of the case. The candidness of the jurors' response is of utmost importance. The questions may seem personal, but they are necessary to ensure that impartial jurors will be selected.

After the judge questions the jurors, the attorneys will select the jury. Each side is given a number of jurors to exclude without stating a specific reason. These are called preemptory challenges or strikes. A juror may also be challenged for cause. A challenge for cause might be used for a juror who is related to or is a close friend of one of the parties in the case, or when it is believed that a juror's past experiences may affect their ability to make a fair decision. A person may not be chosen to serve on a jury for many reasons, so if you are excused please don’t take it personally or feel offended by the decision. The process is simply a way for the attorneys to choose who they think is best suited for their particular case. It is no reflection on the juror, nor does it in any way question the juror's ability or integrity.

Once the number of jurors needed has been selected, the clerk will swear in the jury to try the case. If you are not selected, this does not mean you are excused from jury duty. You may be needed for another case and should return to the Jury Assembly room unless otherwise instructed by the judge.

Will I be paid even if I’m not picked for a trial?

Yes, you will be paid for every day you are actually in attendance, even if you are not chosen for a trial.

What do I do about meals? Is lunch provided?

Except in special situations, meals are not provided by the court. Jurors are generally free to leave the building for lunch and return home in the evening. There is a snack bar located on the first floor of the Courthouse, and a number of eating establishments in the downtown area within walking distance. You may not take food or beverages in to the courtroom. If you leave the Courthouse for lunch, you must not be late in returning at the time specified by the judge or clerk in charge.

How should I dress?

Maintaining the dignity and decorum of the court is most appreciated. We suggest that you wear simple business attire. Tank tops, shorts, hats or "flip-flop" sandals would be inappropriate.

Can I bring my cell phone or personal communication device?

Pursuant to the order signed by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court dated August 25, 2000, "The use of audible pagers, cell phones and any other personal communication devices by attorneys, jurors, staff members, litigants, witnesses, or members of the general public, is banned in all courtrooms in this State." You may bring your cell phone, but when you enter into the Jury Assembly area, please have your devices in the off position. You may use them during breaks or at lunch if you are a member of the general jury pool. If you are chosen to serve as a juror on a case, you will not be able to use your phone except with the permission of the presiding judge.

Please review the Orders from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court regarding use of cell phone and personal communication devices:

Is there any special "courtroom etiquette" I should be aware of?

There are certain rules of behavior that a juror should follow. Foremost among these is the requirement to always be on time. Delays inconvenience the judge, the attorney's, the parties, witnesses and other jurors. When a court session begins and the judge enters the courtroom, everyone including the jurors, should rise. You should always give your undivided attention to every question and answer during a trial. You should attempt to be as quiet as possible in court, and also when you are in the hallways behind the courtrooms.



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