|People often enjoy
being involved in making an important civic
decision. Actually, jury service is one of the most
direct ways of participation the average citizen can
have in the working of government. Some have even
changed careers after serving as a jury member.
Without you, the jury
system cannot work the way the authors of the
Constitution envisioned. Yet jury service means
rearranging schedules, canceling appointments, and
often times missing work. But if you were on trial,
wouldn't you want someone like you to make the
sacrifices necessary to be a part of your jury? Your
public service as a juror in a very real way ensures
the right to trial by jury for all Americans.
Common Questions and
What are the
qualifications to serve as a juror?
You do not need any
special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror. You
do need to keep an open mind and be willing to make
decisions free of personal feelings and biases.
You are qualified for jury service if you:
- Are a U.S. citizen
- Are 18 years or
- Have sufficient
knowledge of English
- Are a resident of
the county that summoned you or are eligible to
vote in California.
- Have not served on
a jury within the last 12 months
- Are not currently
serving on a grand jury or trial jury
- Are not under a
- Have had your
civil rights restored, if they were previously
I've heard about
"one-day or one trial" jury service. What is it?
The courts want to
make jury service as manageable as possible for you
while still ensuring the availability of jurors for
jury trials. One way of doing this is the "one-day
or one trial" system. It works like this: you are
summoned and appear at the courthouse at the
designated time. If you are not selected for a jury
that day, you are excused and you have satisfied
your obligation for at least a year. Or, if you are
selected for a jury, service in that trial satisfies
you obligation for at least a year. The idea is to
minimize the inconvenience of jury service, but the
system works only if citizens like you honor their
duty and the law and respond to the court's summons.
How are jurors
Most courts use
driver license lists and voter lists to issue
summonses. If in the pas 12 month you have already
responded to a summons or have already served,
please notify the jury staff or your local court.
It's not convenient
for me to serve right now. Can I postpone my
If business or
personal matters make it impossible to serve on a
particular date, you may request a postponement.
Procedures vary, so consult the jury professionals
at your local court to request postponement.
Can I be excused
The judge may excuse
qualified jurors who face undue hardships such as an
extreme financial burden, transportation problems,
physical or mental disability impairment, or an
obligation to provide care for another person. If
you are called for jury selection, the judge will
explain the process of requesting an excuse in more
What if I don't
speak English fluently?
You don't need to
speak perfect English to serve as a juror. The work
done by the courts affects all people and all
communities, so people from all communities, so
people from all communities should be represented.
Will I get paid for
Jurors are paid a
modest stipend of $15 per day starting on the second
day of service. Under state law, jurors are also
reimbursed at least 15 cents per mile, one way, for
jury service. Ask your local jury office for more
specific information about its reimbursement
If I am selected to
serve, how long will the trial take?
The length of the
trial depends on how complex the issues are and how
long jurors spend on deliberations. Most trials are
completed within a few days or a week. The judge can
tell approximately how long a trial should last when
your group is called for jury selection. Judges are
aware that long trials can be difficult and will
discuss this with potential jurors. Please be
patient during the process. Many of your fellow
jurors will have similar concerns.
What happens during
The judge serves as
the court's presiding officer and as the final
authority on the law. The lawyers act as advocates
for their sides of the case. As a juror, you will
listen to opening statements and closing arguments
for both sides. You will also learn about and weigh
the evidence that has been collected for the trial.
You will talk over the case with the other jurors
during deliberations. Then you will be asked to make
a decision about the case.
The trial process includes:
- Jury selection
- The trial--opening
statements, presentation of evidence, closing
arguments, jury instructions
- Jury deliberations
What about my job
By law, your employer
must allow you time off to serve on a jury--jury
service is that important. Section 230(a) of the
California Labor Code is intended to prevent an
employer from firing or harassing an employee who is
summoned for jury service and who has given
reasonable notice of the time needed to serve.
Notice is generally considered "reasonable" if it is
given as soon as possible after the employee is
summoned. Although state law does not require
employers to continue paying the salaries of
employees who are absent because of jury service,
many employers do.