I’ve Been Summoned to Jury Duty. What Next?

What thoughts come to your mind when you encounter the phrase “jury duty”? For many individuals, “jury duty” evokes a sense of civic responsibility. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately two-thirds of American adults hold the belief that participating in jury duty is integral to embodying the role of a responsible citizen.

For some individuals, the expression “jury duty” conveys the possibility of experiencing the thrill and intrigue of a captivating trial, reminiscent of those often depicted on television. Meanwhile, for those with a more humorous perspective, the phrase “jury duty” might evoke recollections of the 1995 film titled “Jury Duty,” featuring Pauly Shore.

No matter what gets called to mind, it’s likely that the thought is not based on actual jury experience.

As indicated by the referenced Pew Research survey, approximately 15% of American adults receive a jury summons annually. Among this group, a mere 5% proceed to participate in a jury trial. Extending these figures, it can be inferred that around 0.75% of the adult population ends up serving on a jury.  If you happen to receive a jury summons, here are a few straightforward steps to follow:

  1. Determine the nature of the request. Is the summons pertaining to federal or state court? Is it for petit jury duty or grand jury duty? Based on your answers to these queries, the duration and location of your service will vary.
  2. Respond to the summons. When you receive a jury summons, the most undesirable course of action is to disregard it. Neglecting jury duty can lead to civil or criminal sanctions. Additionally, evading service doesn’t exempt you from your obligation; it simply transfers you to a future service roster. Consistently evading jury duty can result in even more severe consequences from the court. Naturally, if you genuinely possess a valid justification for being unavailable at the designated time, each summoned juror has the option to defer service once without repercussions by contacting the court at least one week prior to the scheduled date.
  3. Inform your employer. You don’t need to be concerned about any work-related consequences while serving on a jury. It’s against the law for your employer to take any adverse actions such as firing you, making you use your vacation, personal, or sick days, implementing scheduling changes that are meant to penalize you, or requiring you to make up for the time spent on jury duty. While it’s not obligatory, it’s suggested that employers consider fully compensating employees who are serving on jury duty. At the very least, the employer is required to cover the jury fee, which amounts to $40 per day for up to three days of jury service.
  4. Show Up. While certain states provide exemptions for active military personnel or civic servants like firefighters, in the state of New York, there are no automatic exclusions or justifications for avoiding jury duty; all eligible individuals are expected to participate. Eligible individuals need to satisfy the following criteria: (1) possess U.S. citizenship, (2) be a minimum of 18 years old, (3) reside in the county of the summons, (4) have the ability to communicate in English, and (5) have no history of felony convictions. Hence, if you meet these qualifications, failure to attend could result in penalties.
  5. Monitor weather conditions. Weather-related emergencies, especially during winter, can impact proceedings. Updates about court closures might also be conveyed through automated phone calls and text messaging systems, such as Juror Calling.
  6. Practice honesty. Even if you attend jury duty, it’s improbable that you’ll be selected to participate in a trial jury. The jury selection procedure, referred to as voir dire, aims to identify jurors who hold any form of bias, whether it’s implicit or explicit, that could result in an unjust trial.
  7. Be Prepared. The courts offers a juror handbook that offers a comprehensive outline of the case’s stages and what jurors can anticipate. Reviewing this guide in advance can help alleviate some of the possible anxiety tied to serving on a jury.
  8. Maintain an unbiased perspective. If you become part of the jury, it’s crucial to attentively follow the proceedings and evaluate the evidence with integrity. Avoid allowing preconceived notions or existing evidence to influence your judgment. The misconception that jurors must be entirely uninformed about case details to serve on a jury is not accurate. Given today’s information accessibility, courts now emphasize the importance of having an open mindset. Nevertheless, jurors are prohibited from conducting external research and should rely on the judge’s guidance. Any misconduct is subject to contempt of court consequences.
  9. Request documentation of your service. Once the trial concludes, inquire about obtaining a proof of service document. This will serve as evidence that you fulfilled your jury duty obligation, which you can present to any doubting employer. Additionally, a proof of service form can be beneficial if you’re summoned again prior to your expected service duration. Generally, individuals who participate in federal or state court jury duty are usually exempt from serving again immediately.

 

Certainly, the intricacies of the crucial role of jury service extend beyond what a basic blog post can cover. If you require more information, you can refer to state-provided guides through a quick online search. This concise introduction should ideally offer assistance when you’re called upon to fulfill your Constitutional responsibility in the future.

Original article- I’ve Been Summoned for Jury Duty. Now What? | Mackenzie Hughes LLP

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