As an American, trial by a jury of your peers is a constitutional right; as a citizen, it is your duty to serve jury duty when called upon to do so.
You are eligible to serve on a jury if:
- You are 18 years of age
- You have not been convicted of a felony
- You are not on active military duty
Juries are made up of people from all walks of life; there are no educational or skill requirements. The jury make-up should reflect the community’s demographic.
Jurors are randomly chosen from various lists including voter registration lists and lists from the DMV. If called upon, you will go to the courthouse where you’ll be among a large group of other potential jurors. Jury panels are chosen from the group in a process called voir dire. Just because you are called does not necessarily mean you will be chosen to serve.
If you are summoned for jury duty, you must respond to the summons. Even if you think you don’t qualify, you have to answer the summons. You may be excused from jury duty for any number of reasons, but you must respond to the call.
If you are chosen to be on a jury, you will go to trial and listen to evidence presented. You’ll be expected to weigh the evidence when reaching a verdict. You may not do any research on your own, and you’ll likely be instructed not to discuss the case outside of court. The judge will instruct you on what is expected of you at various stages of the trial.
While trials can take many twists and turns, generally you may expect the following process to play out:
- You’ll hear opening statements from both sides
- The prosecutor, or plaintiff’s attorney will call witnesses and present evidence
- The defense attorney may call witnesses and present evidence
- After both sides rest their cases, you will listen to closing arguments
- The judge will instruct you on the applicable law and the verdicts that may be reached
- You will move to the jury room and choose a foreperson and begin deliberations
You are paid as a juror, but it is not very much – usually $15-$20 per day. The trial you hear may last a few days or a few months, it will depend on the complexity of the case.