Pulling back the curtain on jury duty

It’s a letter most people don’t want to get simply because it’s always accompanied by so many questions. The jury duty summons requires you to rearrange your schedule, take time off work, and enter into an unknown process of sitting, waiting, and answering questions.

Yes, you’re doing your civic duty by serving, and it’s important to take the call to jury duty seriously, but make sure you know what to expect first.
What is jury duty?

Jury duty is a civic obligation for all US citizens. Being called doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get put on a jury, but you must appear and be a part of the selection process. During this process, you may be questioned by lawyers on both sides of the case.

You’ll most likely have to complete a preliminary questionnaire to see if you’re qualified for the particular case going to trial as a first step. If you have a conflict, or are considered to have a bias, you may simply get excused, but you will have done your civic duty by showing up.

Jury duty applies to both civil and criminal cases, so there’s no way to know what kind of case you may have to sit on as a juror.

Is jury duty mandatory?

Jury duty is 100 percent mandatory. Ignoring a summons will lead to a bench warrant requiring you to appear at a hearing. You’ll have to explain to a judge why you didn’t appear and didn’t submit the paperwork to get out of it. The judge can decide to penalize you by requiring you to pay a $1,000 fine, sentence you to three days in jail, or have you complete community service. A combination of the three consequences may also be issued at the judge’s discretion.

Ignoring the call to jury duty is severe, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options if your date isn’t convenient. You can request a temporary postponement if you have other commitments that create conflict. To do so, submit a letter to the jury office at least seven business days before your service date.

It’s also possible to get out of jury duty completely. Reasons to permanently get out of jury duty include:

  • Being 70-years-old or more
  • Providing full-time care to an aged or infirm person or children under the age of 10
  • Serving as a volunteer firefighter or member of a rescue squad or ambulance
  • Having a medical condition or physical disability which prohibits you from serving (with a doctor’s note)
  • Having served within the last two years in Federal Court

How long is jury duty?

Typical jury duty doesn’t last longer than a week, so knowing that, you have time to look at your calendar prior to your scheduled day to report, and make sure you won’t have conflicts.

Most cases are between 2-3 days, and most of the time the jury selection process takes no more than half a day.

Is there jury duty pay?

Since jury duty is one of your civic duties, payment for your time and service is nominal. You can get something if you end up on a jury, but it’s usually between $5-$50 per day. In Georgia, most counties offer $25.

If you happen to sit on a jury where the trial runs for longer than a week (most won’t) your daily compensation may increase, but only slightly.

There’s also a chance you can get reimbursed for reasonable transportation costs and parking fees if there are any.

What will happen the day of my summons?

The day you’re set to report for jury duty, expect to be on site anywhere from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Wear comfortable clothes since you’ll be sitting for a while, and bring a sweater. Often, these buildings are cold.

Bring something to do while you wait to be called; there’s a lot of sitting around involved with the jury selection process. Cell phones, tablets, and computers are all fine, but you’ll only be able to use them in the jury assembly area.

Make sure to notify your employer of your summons. They must grant you time off, although they don’t have to pay you for the days away.

If you get to the stage where you’re questioned by lawyers, you’ll most likely get asked questions to help the legal teams determine if you can be fair, honest, and impartial based on the issues in the case.

You may get dismissed at any point during the day, get asked to return for another day of selection, or get picked for a jury. At each stage, you’ll get any additional information you need regarding next steps.

What happens if I get picked to serve on a jury?

If you are selected for a jury, you’ll receive information about the date(s) of the trial so you can make yourself available. Typical hours for court are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m..

There’s actually a jury duty dress code should you get called to sit. Plan to arrive in professional attire. It’s okay to keep it business casual, so trade in that suit for nice slacks and a collared shirt for men and a skirt or dress pants and blouse for a woman.

Follow all the instructions related to serving on the jury, listen carefully to any instructions from the judge, keep an open mind during the trial, and conduct yourself with impartiality and a willingness to work with the other jurors.

Tackling your civic duty

Being called on for jury duty definitely isn’t the headache many will make it out to be. It’s a chance to participate in the judicial system in your own community, performing an essential civic duty. By knowing what to expect, and how to navigate the process, you’ll ease your way through the process and maybe even get to be a part of an interesting case.

Should you ever find yourself on the other side of a court case, in need of legal representation to help you get the compensation you deserve, contact the trusted personal injury attorneys at Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson. Our dedicated team is here to give your case customized attention so you can focus on healing.

start your recovery

Call our team today for a free consultation.

We want to connect with you and help you during this challenging time. If it’s more convenient to communicate via email, please reach out to us at info@nsw.law.