Jury Scam Alert

Posted Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Stop sign alerting to scamPlease Be Aware: As a result of a resurgence in jury identity theft, this is a reminder that the Administrative Office of the Courts and staff of the superior courts will never ask past or prospective jurors for financial information, credit card numbers, bank account information, personal information like Social Security numbers. Please do not provide this type of information to anyone claiming to be associated with the courts.   MORE >>

Jury Service Basics

Get General Information About Jury Service

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Click here to get information and instructions for responding to your juror summons,
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More Questions about your Jury Service?

Questions about your jury service or ability to serve should be directed to the local court from which you have been summoned.
Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California

A Message From Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California

"Trial by jury is one of the fundamental ideals of American democracy; serving as jurors reminds us that these ideals exist only as long as individual citizens are willing to uphold them.  MORE »

What to Expect from Jury Service

Often, we don't trust any one person to determine another person's fate. Instead, we trust the community to make the right decision. This is our democratic ideal--to impart justice that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. Democracy is made real every day by thousands of jurors across the nation. Most jurors consider it interesting, educational, and an honor to play a part in the fair administration of justice. The juror orientation video, "Ideals Made Real," is typically shown at the courthouse to help you learn more about jury service and your important role in the legal system.

Juror Basics

You do not need any special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror. All you need is an open mind and a readiness to work with the other jurors to make decisions. You also need to be impartial-in other words, your decisions must not be influenced by personal feelings and biases.

California law says you are qualified to be a juror if you:
  • Are a U.S. citizen
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Can understand English enough to understand and discuss the case
  • Are a resident of the county that sent you the jury summons
  • Have not served on a jury in the last 12 months
  • Are not currently on a grand jury or on another trial jury
  • Are not under a conservatorship
  • Have had your civil rights restored if you were convicted of a felony or malfeasance while holding public office

No one is exempt because of his or her job, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic status.

If you are qualified, please follow the directions on your summons and call in or report as instructed. You will receive additional information when you report for service.

Even if you are qualified to be a juror, you might still have what is called an "undue hardship." An undue hardship is a difficult situation that prevents you from being able to serve.

If you face an undue hardship, you may be able to be excused from jury service or postpone service.

Juror Pay
California pays jurors $15 every day starting on the second day of service, except employees of governmental entities who receive full pay and benefits from their employers while on jury service. Because governmental employers already pay these jurors, the courts do not pay them an additional daily fee. All jurors receive at least 34 cents for each mile they travel to court. The mileage payment, only for one-way travel, also starts on the second day. Some courts may pay you what it costs to take mass transit or local transit agencies may provide free bus or rail transportation to court. Ask your local jury office for information about your court's payment process.

Length of Service
California has one-day or one-trial jury service (68 KB). This means that people are not required to come to court for more than one day of jury duty unless they are assigned to a courtroom for jury selection, or serve on a trial, more than once every 12 months. Typically if you are not chosen for jury selection after one day at the courthouse then your service is done for at least one year. If you are selected to serve on a jury, after the trial is over your service is also completed for at least a year and often longer. In fact, the majority of people who report for jury service serve for just one day. The vast majority of people who actually serve on a jury find it a fascinating and rewarding experience that they would do again.

Failure to Appear
You must report for jury service if you are qualified and you have not been excused or had your service postponed. Any person who fails to respond may be fined up to $1,500. Carefully follow the instructions on the summons and contact the court if you need help.

Although many courts offer parking for jurors, it is often scarce. Free transit service may be available in your area. Check your summons or contact your local jury office for more information.

If there is an emergency at home, you can be contacted at the courthouse. In an emergency, the judge can excuse you at any time during the trial, even during deliberations, and an alternate can take your place. Of course, the emergency must be significant. The judge will make the final decision.

When you enter the courthouse, you may go through a metal detector. Your handbag, briefcase, backpack, and any containers may be x-rayed. Objects like knitting needles, scissors, nail clippers, pocket knives, and weapons are not allowed. If you have forbidden items, you may be asked to leave the courthouse and return without them. Security officers might keep items they think are hazardous. They may or may not be returned to you when you leave the courthouse. Alcoholic beverages are also not allowed.

Courtroom Requirements
We suggest you wear comfortable clothing that fits with the importance and dignity of the courtroom. Shorts, tank tops, bare midriffs, or similar dress are not allowed. Business attire is always appropriate. Check your summons or local jury office for more information. You may not use computers, cellular phones, cameras, or tape recorders in the courtroom. They may not be allowed in the courtroom even if they are shut off.

Age & Health
You may be excused if you are over 70 and have a serious health problem. If you are sick or disabled, you may postpone your service or request an excuse. Follow the directions on the summons for postponement or excuse. A doctor's note may be required. If you need special accommodations, contact the court right away.
Reasons you may be excused from jury service include:
  • You have a physical or mental impairment.
  • Serving would be an extreme financial burden.

If you are eligible for an excuse, please mark the correct category on the summons response form. Return it to the court right away. Even if you ask for an excuse, you may still be required to come to court to speak with the judge.

Sometimes business or personal matters make it impossible to serve on the date shown on your summons. In that case you may ask to postpone your jury service. Follow the directions on your summons to request a postponement. Give the earliest date you will be able to serve.

Note: The California Labor Code protects jurors. It is against the law to fire or harass an employee who is summoned to serve as a juror. However, you should let your employer know well in advance, as soon as you receive your summons. You should contact the court if you have a problem with your employer because of jury service.

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