What is jury duty?
You will be called at some point to be on jury duty if you are registered to vote, or if you have registered a car, or if you have registered property.
One misconception people talk about getting picked for jury duty is that you’ll be chosen from the pool of eligible people to be called in for jury duty.
There is a secret you’re not picked.
The attorneys are not there to pick you.
They’re actually there to do the opposite while it may end up that somebody is more favorable.
It’s not a vote that the attorneys say I really want this person. What happens is they say who they don’t want and these are it’s through a system of challenges.
First the people who come in and assemble that are all called for a particular case or on a particular day.
It is just a group of people from which one or more juries will be called sometimes.
You’ll report to a court more and more they’re getting organized and so all the jury trials will be held starting on a particular day.
It’s just a little bit more efficient and that way people don’t waste their time coming in for one case and then the people are picked and then they have to leave and come back again.
So you have the veneer which is a big group of people then they are there depending upon the type of case, the notoriety of the case, the pool, the van area will be bigger or smaller and sometimes you also hear in the news about juries.
Different states have different ways in which they use a pool to pull people in for jury duty.
Usually you’ll be receiving a notice in the mail that summons you to jury duty.
It is an order of the court that you need to obey.
They will have information nowadays to call in or check a website to see what your particular day juries are called in the federal court and in state court.
What is the State Court? State courts are the courts that administer disputes in your individual community under your state law.
What is the Federal Court? Federal court involves different types of federal laws or controversies between people.
There are grand juries for which you could be summoned and there are Petit juries.
Why is jury duty important ?
Jurors perform a most important role in the US Justice System as they help in the maintenance of law and order and uphold justice in the society.
Is jury duty mandatory?
Mandatory jury duty infringes the principle of freedom and imposing high implicit taxes on jurors by paying them less than the wages at which they would voluntarily offer their services imposes a net loss on society.
Types of Juries
There are three types of juries that the Constitution specifically mentions.
- Grand Jury
- Criminal Trial Jury
- Civil Jury
Grand juries which have 23 persons that operate by majority rule and they decide whether there is probable cause of commission of an offence according to the recommendations of the prosecutor.
And if the cause found by the grand jury then it will indict the defendant and a person should even have to stand trial.
Criminal Trial Jury:
The Criminal Trial Jury also called the petit jury.
In a petit jury, 12 persons to decide guilty or not guilty.
The petit determines the guilt of the defendant and if a person found guilty then it will pronounce the sentence accordingly.
Criminal Trial Jury usually acts unanimously.
Third one is a Civil Jury.
It doesn’t have to be 12 people.
It can be as low as 6 people.
Civil jury often operates by majority rule and it does not decide, guilty or not guilty of a crime, but it decides whether it is liable or not liable to pay damages typically in a contract dispute.
The federal government requires a grand jury to indict a defendant before going to trial.
Many states do not. States also allow for different grace periods before calling on a citizen to serve again.
Some states allow one to three years.
In Wisconsin, four years, New York up to six.
Of course any citizen who qualifies and would like to serve sooner is welcome to do so.
The jury is how ordinary citizens participate in the enforcement of laws.
So the idea that this is a government of the people, the idea that the people have the last word, that the people are the ultimate authority.
That’s very much at stake in every jury proceeding.
Selection of the jurors – Voir Dire
Jury selection going on for days and days that is because of the process that then unfolds as the attorneys for the different parties involved ask questions to try to determine who might be unduly prejudiced against their party or their case that they would not want them on the jury for their own purposes because they want to win but also overall for error for prejudice and things like that could cause the whole trial to be upset and have to begin again.
So they want to get the best people on there for their client in general for people that aren’t going to unduly favor another party or the state if it’s a criminal matter and go through that.
So you have the veneer people are sitting down assigned a number in alphabetical order.
There are usually questionnaires that the attorneys get. So they know who the people are, their educational background, their work and some of that information.
Sometimes you get that well in advance a couple weeks, sometimes you get it that day.
So if you see people scrambling around making charts and graphs that are why they have to try to keep track of the people.
Next is the bloodier and that is the period where the judge introduces the attorneys and the parties and then the attorneys for each of the different parties has an opportunity to address the panel to give information and to mostly get information back from the people.
That’s how they determine who they might make a challenge against.
Here’s your tip for today, if you are called in a criminal matter and there is a question posed to you about a particular type of case maybe it’s a burglary or a murder, maybe it’s a child molestation case, it could be a petty theft and they ask you about your opinions about certain types of crimes, your opinions about the police, your opinions about a certain part of town if you have an inbred bias.
If you have a bias against something where you believe that everyone who’s arrested is guilty and that is something that you cannot be swayed away from that you cannot have an open mind towards the person who is being charged if it’s criminal or against these two companies.
If you are Anti-Corporate American and there’s a corporation involved and you just believe that they are terrible and that you just don’t like them and you don’t trust them or you only like small grocery stores and local people that anyone else you’re suspicious of and for that reason you could not be fair and impartial in your evaluation of the information that’s brought to you in that trial only that you would still be influenced by outside influences.
Your upbringing, your religion, your neighborhood, your family and you would not be able to apply the law that will be given to you and to the facts and the case and render your decision your vote with other people if you say that I could not be fair and impartial in this case.
Somebody is going to strike you and so those challenges are for cause which would be that situation somebody is the mother of the prosecutor, somebody is the mother of the defendant, somebody is the mother of the judge that’s going to be a cause strikes for cause or unlimited then you have peremptory strikes and those typically are three per each party.
Sometimes there may be more in certain situations but those are established before the people come in for the panel.
So there are they take turns, people go that attorneys take turns after the questioning is done, the people leave the room sometimes and then you do the challenges and challenges that the judge considers those four cause first.
This is all on the record before the court reporter. That’s why you leave the room nobody’s trying to insult anyone and it’s just a matter of procedure but they have to have it on the record.
So the panel is removed from the room the judge talks with the attorneys and they go through the cause first then they go through peremptory challenges and pass those around and then they usually look at the people who are right in front there.
If you’ve given a number one through twelve and then depending upon the case they’ll have set one or more alternates and then it’s just a matter of elimination whoever in that first group is not eliminated. It’s going to be those twelve that are left.
Everyone comes back in and the judge announces who will be on the jury and there you go.
You’re usually given some type of a small stipend and maybe a parking allowance.
I’m not sure at once the trial begins then I believe in most places you’re provided lunch or things like that.
The first day doesn’t count on anything if you’ve got a pillow that you need to sit on, bring a book, bring your iPad or something like that and then going forward you may or may not be able to use notes.
You’re not going to be able to talk to the other people on the jury during the trial until you start to deliberate because you’re not supposed to make judgments until all of the evidence has been submitted then at the conclusion of the trial.
You will receive instructions from the court those who are prepared by the attorneys in advance, were argued about and finally determined by the court as to what you would receive.
They will be given to you in writing and those are the instructions and that is what the jury uses to make the ultimate decision because the rules and what the different things they have to check off and determine are on those pieces of paper.
I’m going to publish articles on some recent jury verdicts and things where people were all up in arms about how could the jury act this way or that and I’m going to give you some information on why some of those went a different way and it wasn’t necessarily properly reported or accurately reported by the news.
Anyway that’s my little editorial but you will get the instructions and then there is a verdict form going into the deliberations.
The jury will select a foreperson that will be in charge of keeping order and running the votes and then there will be ways for them to communicate and ask questions back to the court for clarification on instructions or to get evidence.
This is something that some young attorneys don’t seem to understand the evidence and the exhibits and things during a trial which are admitted into evidence that means they are part of the official court record of that case.
Qualification of the Jurors:
You do not need any special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror!
To be qualified to serve as a juror you must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- be a citizen of the United States;
- be a resident of this state and of the county in which you are to serve as a juror;
- be qualified under the Constitution and laws to vote in the county in which you are to serve as a juror (Note: You do not have to be registered to vote to be qualified to vote);
- be of sound mind and good moral character;
- be able to read and write;
- not have served as a juror for six days during the preceding three months in the county court or during the preceding six months in the district court; and
- not have been convicted of, or be under indictment or other legal accusation for, misdemeanor theft or a felony.
*Note that the completion of deferred adjudication is not a disqualifying “conviction”.
(Texas Government Code § 62.102. General Qualifications for Jury Service. Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 35.16 et. seq.)
If you have any doubts as to your eligibility to serve on a jury, contact the judge or court as indicated on your jury summons.
How long is jury duty?
There is no specific time for jury duty, however it could be estimated.
The time for jury duty is dependent on these two factors:
- Consideration of selection process.
- Duration of the trial that how long it will last.
During the selection process it consumes about one or two weeks.
So most of the juror’s duty may end after the selection of the qualified jurors.
Now the selected jurors will go into the trial and time will depend upon the circumstances of the trial and how long the trial shall last where you may estimate the time.
A jury trial is much more expensive to the parties than a trial to the court because there’s more preparation time that the attorneys have to do in advance to satisfy the rules of that court.
I go through some of those scenarios when you serve as a juror.
So you may assume that there’s extra work involved also because there is a jury involved in a case.
The trial is much longer because when there are evidentiary matters before the court outside of just admission of evidence, the jury will be excluded and that’s because the court has to make a record of everything and when you see that a court reporter taking down everything that is the official record of the case.
So, in accordance with the law, an employer is bound to provide an opportunity to the employee for the performance of their civic duty.
And in the same manner an employer cannot take any action against the employee while he is performing his jury duty.
So shuffling the jury in and out of the room dealing with 12 to 15 or more people extra they have to park their car in the morning, they have to go out for lunch, they have to come back for lunch, they have to have a coffee break and it just adds time to the trial and it adds expense.
Now in a criminal situation the only time you see a jury waived is when a plea is being made.
They’ve agreed to some type of plea arrangement and there’s not going to be a trial, very seldom.
Would you have a criminal matter that is not tried to a jury and that it’s a fundamental issue about people’s freedom in their liberty in a civil matter?
It’s not about some of this personal freedom; it’s about money or having to do something in equity.
So that’s the reason for that you have a right to jury in both State and Federal court.
The procedure for that is fairly the same.
Now in State court when you are suing somebody some places, it’s automatically part of it if it’s not waived in the documents that are involved in the suit and sometimes you have to affirmatively ask for it within a particular period of time.
That is something if you are going to be a litigant in a case if you are being sued and this plaintiff has to ask for a jury and they didn’t in the papers.
You as a defendant have the right to assert your right to a jury trial if there is provided by the local court rules.
There’s a certain period of time in the case when the parties might consider waiving it even though there was not a document ahead of time.
They can waive it to precede going forward at that period of time and the jury is going to be different sizes depending upon the different kind of case and the court that it’s usually about 12 but there are situations where you can have it reduced and sometimes that’s by rule and sometimes that is by agreement.
So it is a right that you have unless it is waived.
How To Get Out of Jury Duty?
It’s going to be a jury selection and getting out of jury duty.
There you’re gonna go through what’s called a voir dire process where the attorneys get to ask you questions.
6 Step Guide For Getting Out of Jury Duty
The days when you could duck service simply by returning the summons with a lame excuse are long gone.
So you’re gonna have to get more creative.
You will need Willingness to forego bathing
Some acting skills and offensive clothes.
You may have a legitimate reason and not even know it.
- If you are over 70 years old.
- Do not understand English.
- If you are the sole caretaker of small children or elderly adults.
You will usually be granted a request to be excused.
If you don’t have a good excuse not to serve at all, ask to serve in another big holiday month, so you’re more likely to get out early.
Neither lawyer is going to want to pick you for the jury if you smell like someone whose bodily secretions have been marinating in the heat for several days.
Show up in your dirtiest, rattiest clothes so that your fellow potential jurors are loath to sit near you.
Wear a t-shirt that’s sure to offend, like “Kill All The Lawyers.”
During the “voir dire” process—when the lawyers interview you to see if you’re impartial—pick a side.
If it’s a civil case involving damages, say you’re sick of people getting rich on accidents, noting eloquently that “crap happens.”
Mention loved ones that suggest you may be biased in this case.
In general, defense attorneys don’t want people related to cops, and attorneys handling medical malpractice cases will excuse anyone connected to a doctor.
Whenever either attorney asks if you think you can remain fair and impartial, say NO!
Then offer an outrageous reason like, “Everyone knows redheads can’t drive.”
When asked if you could uphold a law that you don’t agree with, say, “No way.”
Add something menacing like, “In fact, I am the law.”
What is a jury duty questionnaire?
First you’re gonna fill out a questionnaire and on that questionnaire they’re gonna ask information.
Remember they’re looking for people, the defense who’s representing the supposedly suspect and the prosecution who’s representing the state of the government.
Now you’ll notice when the government gets to get to sit closer to the jury and that’s through psychological terms over time they’ve figured out that if the prosecution gets to sit next to a jury we’re closer in proximity.
We can connect people who feel closer to somebody this close to them versus in defense who has put the other side’s away from the jury.
If it was fair they would be equal but it’s not fair.
It’s all for the government.
The government is slowly increasing their chances in ability to win.
So when you get on there you’re gonna do a questionnaire and they may ask your age and address.
They’re asking your age to see what kind of art they know that older people may be for a trial if it’s a crime that’s been around and that older people are more sympathetic to they want older people if they want.
The last is how many people you gotta think that tells them if you’re a parent or not they may ask what they know and they’ll ask around about whether you’re married.
I don’t think they’ll ask if you’re married but they’ll ask a roundabout way again a lawyer tricks what’s the name of your spouse, how long have y’all been married or things like that to figure out.
If you’re not married, people may be more simple to crime, married people may be more responsible.
Married people may be living in a community.
They’re gonna ask your address so that you tell what neighborhood you live in.
If you live in a neighborhood you’re decently sized for crime.
They may not want you but if you live in a really nice neighborhood you don’t have any idea about how bad the crime is in this other neighborhood then they may not want you.
So all this information that you’re asking on there is they’re judging and evaluating.
Then they’ve got a checklist that may go through all this when they go on a jury selection.
There’s everybody’s name and they’ve got people they want to kick off just from reading your answers before they ever talk to you but they’re gonna ask probably a question because you have to justify later.
So my challenge is if you kick off a black person and there’s only one black person in this and the defendants black, they’re gonna say you kicked them off.
You’re not to say why you kicked them off.
So instead of just reading on here that the guy that this black personal jury has been arrested six times has a criminal history etc.
So you know he’s not gonna be super petty cops.
The prosecution doesn’t want him.
You’re gonna want to challenge him for a cause.
I don’t have to give a reason.
The challenge for cost doesn’t go against their preamps, so you’re bringing up.
Basically I can go, I don’t like you, so I may ask you a couple questions to confirm.
Somebody asked why I kicked you off, I can go back to my question when I asked him a question I didn’t like.
Well that was good as long as it wasn’t for race or for legend or for our sexual gender or whatever as long as it wasn’t worth that.
So they’re going to read your questionnaire and they’re going to figure out why they want you or not and then they allow you to sit in there.
They’re gonna be noticing how you walked in? Whether you were carrying a book on crooked prosecutions? Whether you were carrying a book that says I’m against the death penalty? or we should burn everybody for parking tickets…
Whatever as when you walk in there, they are going to be reading your book they’re gonna notice you’re writing a book or if you got headphones on or if you got sandals or how you’re dressed?
This is pretty interesting. I’m gonna pay attention in trial or am I like this and they’re like man this guy doesn’t want to be here.
Remember they’re doing everything prosecution wants in his favor.
After the questionnaire is over, then they’re going to talk to you about the investigations.
Things Not To Say
Jury duty should be fun. Things you shouldn’t say to try to get out of jury duty.
So, just got back from jury duty and most people probably aren’t looking forward to jury duty.
I was kind of looking forward to it then I got on a criminal case.
I believe it’s our civic responsibility and it did seem like there were a lot of people there who are pretty excited to be there and a lot of people who did not want to be there.
So that’s what I want to talk to you about things you shouldn’t say to try to get out of jury duty
The judge puts all the potential jurors in the box and then he goes through and asks them a series of questions.
How to be excused from jury duty?
Here are some tips on how to be excused from jury duty.
I’m purposely not saying how to get out of it because you shouldn’t get out of it unless you have a real reason because overall it’s part of our society in the US and it is important and if you ever need a jury you want to have a good jury so do the people involved.
That’s where this comes in to have your reason why you need to be excused and why you are not demanding but requesting.
- First thing do it quickly as soon as you get the notice contact the jury coordinator there may be 50 people being called and 30 of them may have reasons to be excused. You want to be one of the first ones to contact them because you’re most likely going to be automatically allowed to be excused.
- The next thing is confirming in writing if that is the way that they want you to do it if there’s some type of website where you need to check in to make sure you’ve done everything that you need to do to clear it with the jury coordinator even if you’re going to be excused.
- The next thing are some reasons why you can be excused from jury duty before you even show up.
- You have to work out of town, it’s pre-scheduled.
- You are appearing in a court matter.
- You are a witness or you are an expert witness.
- Make sure you notify them quickly if you are scheduled for surgery.
- You are pregnant.
- You have small children at home and you don’t have alternative daycare for the whole day.
- You are caring for elderly people in your home or out of your home.
Jury Duty Summons
Last time I got a summons, I called for like five days in a row and didn’t have to go in but sometimes a case does come up and I called in and I had to report.
The next day I had a report at 09 a.m. and they put me in the big room. I was actually writing an article while I was doing it. They made a few announcements and then my name was chosen.
You can bring food, you can bring a drink. They have wall plugs for plugging in vending machines for coffee.
So I was chosen to be one of 60 jurors for the stage-two.
Now if you do not get picked for stage two, they will probably let you go before lunchtime and I’ll leave it up to you if you need to report back to work or take the rest of the day off but half those people in the room got the rest of the day to be free.
So 60 jurors in my case were picked we got a long recess it was like a three-hour lunch we came back at 1:30 p.m. we go in the room the judge talks a little bit everyone’s kind of stiff and nervous a little bit and then they called up like 15 or 18 people to the actual jury box and that’s the jury selection.
So this is where it gets a little bit interesting the judge understands that nobody has public speaking. A lot of people are nervous but they do make you speak in front of 60 people plus lawyers plus the person that’s the defendant in the room plus the clerk plus the deputy sheriff plus the judge.
Importance Fact You Must Consider For Jury Duty
In this section I want to give you all my tips and tricks and knowledge while it’s still fresh.
Most of you have decided that you don’t want to go to jury duty where some people feel that it’s their civil duty.
It’s a day off of work if your salary and you want to go to jury duty.
I’m not gonna judge you or condemn you for not wanting to go.
I didn’t really want to go through either process.
A little bit interesting the more effort I put into it but the first thing of course is you get the card “jury summons” and the first thing you’d read.
So when you first get the summon, you have two options;
- Option number one is you call the number and you find out if you even have to show up or not and you go through the process. We’ll get into all those details.
- A second option is let’s say you have something coming up and you want to postpone it for a certain period of time before they send you another notice. What you have to do is you have to go online or you go on the website for the court and you can postpone it up to a year.
Now everything I’m going to be talking about will probably be the same for all 50 states but I am in California so everything I write will be similar but the details not precise.
So you’ll have to look into your different state and you can postpone up to one year.
One year ago when you got this summons, it was going to be right around the time.
I believe there’s a certain time period like a month, three months, six months but maximum is one year.
But you’re disqualified from jury duty if you have had a felony on your record and you cannot be a part of jury duty.
So you just have to write there, the court calls them and let them know that you have a felony, therefore you can’t and you don’t have to do jury duty.
Another thing is when my wife before she became a US citizen she was just a green card holder and they sent her a summons. Well she was disqualified because she’s not a US citizen. We cleared it up.
All the information is on the summon if anything like that happens.
Now another thing is, let’s say you’ve moved and your summons comes to a different County than you live in my summons came to my business address which is my parents address but let’s say even though I still live in the same county as my parents, my business address if I lived in a different County then you cannot be a juror because you’re summoned for that County.
Normally it’s where you’re registered to vote. So I’m registered to vote in the same County and all my voting information goes to my parents house because they never move.