"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.
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.
View the Court and Community Jury Brochure to get information and instructions for responding to your juror summons.
Juries play an important and crucial role in our country's democratic process. Without them, our legal system would grind to a halt. Your help is essential in ensuring that all citizens are available to serve on juries when called.
Plain language Civil and Criminal Jury Instructions
Additional Resources for court staff, judges and attorneys.
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.
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.
Will staff of the jury manager’s office ask me for financial or personal information?
No. Staff of the superior courts will never ask past or prospective jurors for personal information like financial history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers. Do not provide this type of information to anyone claiming to be associated with the courts, and contact your local jury office if you receive this type of request. If you receive a telephone call, an e-mail or other form of electronic communication from someone identifying himself or herself as a court employee and requesting your personal information, you may be the victim of a jury fraud scam. Please do not provide any information and immediately contact the fraud unit of your local police department and the jury office of your local court.
Why do I always get summoned but other people don't?
Selection is random. If you have already responded to a summons or have served in the past 12 months, contact your local jury office. Explain to the staff person that you have been summoned twice in 12 months. It is important for you to contact the court to resolve the problem.
What if I have never been summoned but am interested in serving?
Jurors are summoned randomly from countywide lists maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the local registrar of voters. Inclusion in the list of eligible jurors does not guarantee that you will be immediately selected for jury service. If you have not been selected, you may contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and your local registrar of voters to update your mailing address. Further questions should be directed to your local court.
What if I do not speak English?
You do not need to speak perfect English to serve as a juror. The court uses common, everyday language that people can understand. The work done by the courts affects all people, so it is important that all communities be a part of our justice system. No one person has to know everything. Jurors decide the outcome of a trial as a group, with each member making an important contribution. If you cannot understand English, follow the instructions on the summons or contact the jury office. If you need assistance, a friend or a family member who speaks English can call for you. However, you may still have to come in person to request a disqualification.
May I serve on a jury if I am a felon?
You may not serve on a jury if you have been convicted of a felony offense and your civil rights have not been restored. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 203(a)(5). However, if you have received a pardon from the Governor and had your civil rights restored pursuant to California Penal Code sections 4852.01-4854, you may serve on a jury. There are two ways to receive a pardon: one is by applying for and being granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon, and the second is through a Direct Application for Pardon. Please consult an attorney for legal advice, your local California Superior Court clerk’s office, or your probation office for further guidance.
How long does a trial take?
Trial length depends on how complex the issues are and how long jurors spend in deliberations. Most trials are completed within a week. The judge knows approximately how long the trial will take and he or she will give you an idea when your group is called for jury selection. Judges are aware that long trials can be difficult. Let the judge know if it would be a serious hardship for you to serve on a long trial. Please be patient during this process, because a lot of people have similar concerns about time.
What happens to my job obligations?
Your employer must allow you time off to serve on a jury. That is the law. The California Labor Code prevents any employer from firing or harassing an employee who is summoned for jury service. School employees and students are protected as well in different parts of the law. However, you must 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. Remember that you can postpone jury service to a more convenient time. Read your summons carefully or contact your local jury office to find out how to request a postponement.
What if I care for a child or an adult?
If you have a child or an adult under your care, you may ask for a postponement or excuse from jury service. Read your summons carefully or contact your local jury office. If you are the mother who is breastfeeding a child, you may request a postponement for up to one year by filling out the summons response form.
What do I do if I need special accommodations?
If you need certain accommodations such as assistance with a wheelchair, hearing amplification, or special seating, contact your local jury office right away. Let them know what you will need. If they cannot reasonably accommodate you, you may request to be excused from jury service.
Why do jurors seem to wait around so much?
The judge and court staff works to reduce the time prospective jurors spend waiting for assignment. The court asks for your patience and suggests that you bring a book or other reading material to occupy your time while waiting. The judge and court staff will explain delays when possible.
Is my privacy protected during and after the trial?
The judge will take your privacy into consideration when making decisions about the case. The judge must balance the requirement in the federal Constitution that guarantees people a public and speedy trial against the concerns jurors may have about privacy. If you have questions about your privacy, please let the judge know. If a member of the media, a lawyer, or a friend or family member of one of the people involved in the case approaches you during the trial, let the judge know immediately. This type of contact is inappropriate during a trial. After the trial is over, the media and parties to the case may be able to contact you, but you do not have to talk to them. Call the judge in your case if you feel harassed.
What happens after the verdict?
Once the verdict is read in court by the clerk, the members of the jury may be polled and asked how they voted. Jurors are given proof of their service and often certificates of appreciation or thank-you letters and then are released from jury service. Some jurors find it is helpful to give the judge and attorneys feedback about the trial. Sometimes jurors even exchange phone numbers in order to discuss aspects of the case with other people who shared the same experience. If you do not wish to be contacted after the trial, let the judge know.
After long and stressful trials, some jurors may feel disoriented. Some jurors may also need to talk to a professional about feelings that the trial may have brought up. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) publishes a manual titled Through the Eyes of the Juror: A Manual for Addressing Juror Stress. NCSC can be contacted at 800-877-1233.
What if I am called as a grand juror?
The grand jury is different from a trial jury (known as a petit jury). The terms and purposes of service for each are different and are defined in section 888 of the Penal Code. People called for grand jury duty should contact the court that has summoned them with specific questions. Additional information can be found through the California Grand Jurors Association.
How do I apply for a job in jury management with my local court or the state judicial branch?
The California Judicial Branch offers diverse career opportunities in a variety of fields including jury management, as well as court operations, finance, information technology, legal, facilitates, administrative support, and more.