What to expect with jury duty

Jury duty is part of the backbone supporting a just and democratic society. Imagine being part of a system where your peers, not just experts or officials, play a vital role in determining someone’s guilt or innocence and serving as a juror. This unique civic responsibility allows everyday citizens to participate in the legal process actively, allowing individuals the opportunity to uphold the principles of fairness, justice, and the rule of law. 

While jury service is an honor and a duty, it can also be intimidating for those who receive a summons. However, you will only participate in a case if you receive a summons. There are leniencies in some districts that make exceptions for service, such as for health, age, mobility, or caregiver duties. While you may be required to attend a courthouse, you may not be selected for the final pool of jurors. However, should you be chosen, we have compiled a friendly guide to jury duty’s do’s and don’ts. By following these suggestions, you can ensure that your jury duty experience is not only smoother but also a meaningful contribution to the fairness of our justice system.

Jury case statistic graphic. Graphic reads, "Between 1962 and 2013, the percentage of civil cases resolved through jury trials dropped from 5.5% to 0.8%.

DO’S and DON’TS of Jury Duty

DO Arrive on Time:
Punctuality is crucial. Arrive at the courthouse promptly on the scheduled date and time. Lateness can disrupt proceedings and delay the trial.

DON’T Research the Case:
Avoid conducting independent research or seeking information about the case on the internet, social media, or other means. It would be best to base your decisions solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

DO Bring Required Documents:
Remember to bring any documents, such as your jury summons or ID, that were requested in your jury duty notice. Failure to do so may result in complications that could delay the end of your service requirements.

DON’T Use Electronic Devices:
 If you bring them to the courthouse, turn them off, including smartphones, during court proceedings. They can be distracting and disruptive. Some courthouses ban the use of personal electronic devices altogether. If summoned, check your assigned courthouse’s rules regarding electronic devices.

DO Dress Appropriately:
Dress conservatively and professionally. Your appearance should reflect the seriousness of the proceedings. Avoid clothing with offensive or distracting graphics or messages.

DON’T Discuss the Case:
Refrain from discussing any case details with fellow jurors until you are in the jury room and deliberations have begun. Do not disclose what occurred in the jury room to anyone. Even after the trial is over, maintain the confidentiality of jury deliberations.

DO Listen Attentively:
 Pay close attention during the jury selection process and throughout the trial. Understanding the case’s details is essential to reach a fair verdict.

DON’T Give Into Biases:
Avoid making assumptions about the case, the parties involved, or the attorneys based on personal preferences, stereotypes, or preconceptions. Your duty as a juror is to uphold a fair and balanced judgment, which can only be achieved by focusing only on what is presented in the courtroom.

Serving on a jury is a vital civic duty that helps ensure justice is served in our society. By following these do’s and don’ts, you can contribute to the fair and impartial administration of justice while making your jury duty experience more straightforward and respectful of the legal process. Remember that jury duty is an opportunity to uphold the principles of democracy and protect the rights of individuals, making it a significant responsibility for every citizen.

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