In most parts of the United States, being called out to serve in a jury can be random. In most cases, people cannot volunteer to help but must wait for a summon to serve. However, this isn’t always the case in every country.
The jury selection process’s goal is to select a random group of unbiased people of varying ages, races, history, and differing perspectives that reflect the whole community to ensure that the evaluation is thorough and fair when serving court papers and verdicts.
The random selection of the jurors is essential because, if jurors were allowed to volunteer, this would increase the risk of bias and thus would lead to a wrongful conviction or wrongful absolution.
What are the requirements?
The Jury Act, Title 28, of the U.S. Code, Sections 1861-1878, cites that the jurors must be selected from the voter’s lists or supplemented additional sources, such as a property tax, drivers license, etc.
To be legally qualified an individual must:
- Be no lower than 18 years of age;
- Must reside in the judicial district for a year;
- Have no disqualifying mental or physical ailments;
- No current felony charges punishable for more than one year
- Never been a convicted felon and
- Must be a U.S. citizen. ;
- Proficient in English
Be Aware of Jury Scams
The public should be aware that the judicial system does not initially reach out for jury service through emails or phone calls. The court will usually send out official court mailings to potential jurors but will never, in any circumstance, do a phone call or an email in reaching out. In some cases, these invites will lead to questionnaires.
If malicious entities can get hold of your contact information, they can get hold of other personal information. To ensure that your information’s privacy and safety, self-protection through runtime applications will assist you in discerning what is considered spam in your device.
Can I Refuse Jury Duty?
You legally cannot say no to a jury summons. However, there are exceptions. For example, suppose your jury duty schedule conflicts with your work or vacation schedule. If this is the case, then most courts can excuse jurors because of unforeseen circumstances.
The Juror must compose a letter to the clerk of the court explaining the situation. However, courts have the discretion to deny the request, and it cannot be appealed or reviewed by any legal entity.
The Jury Act makes it illegal for employers to fire, coerce, or intimidate all permanent employees due to their federal jury service duty.
What Are Grounds for Exemption to Jury Duty?
Each ninety-four federal courts maintain their unique jury procedures and policies. Almost every court allows exemption from service to certain designated groups, individuals, or occupational situations.
Such group includes:
- Public officials of federal, state or local government are currently engaged in their public duties;
- Individuals over the age of 70;
- Individuals who have served in a jury in the past two years ;
- Active duty police officers;
- Active duty member of the armed forces;
- Active duty firefighters and;
- Volunteer firefighters, ambulance crew, and rescue unit,
Is my employer legally obligated to still pay me on the day of my jury duty?
No, there are no federal laws that require employers to pay their employees, but they can do so if they wish. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that federal jurors are paid $50 a day, and most federal courts reimburse jurors for their transportation expenses and parking fees, if any.
What happens if I get selected for jury duty?
If you’re summoned to jury duty, you must appear at the courthouse punctually. Then, you’ll have to fill out some documents and papers to make sure that you’re fit for the job. The judge will then ask jurors questions and qualify them for duty.
Jurors are usually required to swear a non-disclosure oath, meaning that jurors are prohibited from speaking about any aspect of the case with anyone outside the jury group.
Once a jury is formed, the group will elect a Foreman from one of the jury group members. The Foreman will be responsible for communication between the Jury and Court officer as well as the Foreman, must forward any questions or concerns that jurors might have for the court.
During the hearing, jurors are not allowed to miss a day in court without a valid reason, such as medical emergencies, accidents, etc.
Phone calls during the hearings are supervised to ensure that no information is being leaked about the case.
Once the case has reached its peak, the jury takes a break for deliberations. All communication to the outside world is completely cut off for the duration of the deliberation. However, if deliberations last for more than a day, jurors are appropriately fed and accommodated by the court and allow for monitored phone calls.
Once deliberations and the jury group have made a unanimous decision, the Foreman will then communicate the jury’s verdict to the court. ;
However, if jurors cannot agree on a verdict, this will result in a hung jury that will lead to a mistrial. No worries, the trial will then be done on a later timetable with a different set of jurors.
Serving in the jury might be an intimidating endeavor that most people aren’t too keen about accomplishing. Still, juries are an essential part of the U.S. justice system and will continue to be so for years to come. But every citizen must serve the court when called upon to contribute to society and justice.