Jury Service

Justice For All: Jury Service features judges, academics, and former jurors explaining what to expect when called to jury service, including the jury selection process, the trial, and jury deliberations.

In addition, an accompanying vignette entitled, A More Perfect Jury: A History of Jury Service, explores the history of jury service from its beginnings in English common law, into the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage movements, as well as new changes to California juries created by recent legislation.

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The Judicial Council of California and staff of the superior courts will never ask past or prospective jurors for financial information, credit card numbers, bank account information, or personal information like Social Security numbers. Do not provide this type of information to anyone claiming to be associated with the courts. En español.


Court and Community Jury Brochure thumbnail 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, attorneys, and the public.


Essential Information

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. 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, incarcerated, or both. 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 have a serious health problem. If you are sick or injured, you may postpone your service or request an excuse. If you are disabled, you may request a permanent medical 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.

Juror Qualifications

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

Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals with criminal records that meet certain criteria are eligible to serve as a juror.

In accordance with Senate Bill 310, which changes the eligibility and disqualification criteria listed in Section 203 of the Code of Civil Procedure, having a felony conviction on your criminal record does not disqualify you from jury service. This change is effective January 1, 2020. 

However, if you have been convicted of a felony and are currently on parole, postrelease community supervision, felony probation, or mandated supervision for the conviction of a felony, you remain disqualified from jury service. Additionally, individuals who are currently required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Section 290 of the Penal Code based on a felony conviction. Lastly, if any individual is incarcerated in any prison or jail, they are also disqualified from jury service.

Additionally, these changes do not affect the eligibility and disqualification criteria for service on a criminal or civil grand jury, as specified in Section 893 of the Penal Code.

We encourage individuals who have questions regarding these changes to contact your local jury office. For those individuals who will now be eligible for jury service and wish to serve, please remember that selection is random. The best way to ensure your name is added to the randomized selection process is to update your information with your county's local registrar of voters and with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as filing a tax return with the Franchise Tax Board.

No one is exempt because of their 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.



Excuse from Service

Reasons you may be excused from jury service include:
  • You have no means of transportation.
  • You would have to travel an excessive distance to the courthouse.
  • You have a physical or mental impairment.
  • You provide care for a dependent and cannot afford to have someone cover for you.
  • 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 at LAB § 230 protects jurors. It is against the law to fire or harass an employee who is summoned to serve as a juror. The California Education Code at §§§ 44037, 48205, 87036 protects teachers and some students as well. However, you should let your employer and/or school know well in advance, as soon as you receive your summons. You should contact the court in question where your jury service was/has been scheduled if you have a problem with your employer because of jury service. You may also wish to contact the California Department of Industrial Relations and/or the California Department of Education.


I'm busy. Why should I serve?

As a juror you participate in an important public process and fulfill a civic obligation. All persons accused of a crime or involved in a civil dispute have a constitutional right to have a jury decide their cases. When you serve on a jury, you make important decisions affecting other people's lives as well as your own community.

What kinds of trials will I hear?

Two types of trials have juries: criminal trials and civil trials. Juvenile and family law trials do not have juries.

How did you get my name?

All potential jurors are selected at random from lists. Courts use Department of Motor Vehicles and voter registration lists.

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, the Franchise Tax Board's state tax filers, and the local registrar of voters. Inclusion on 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 want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Franchise Tax Board, and/or 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?

Beginning January 1, 2020, certain individuals with a criminal history may serve on California trial juries. However, if you have been convicted of a felony and are currently on parole, postrelease community supervision, felony probation, or mandated supervision for the conviction of a felony, you remain disqualified from jury service. Additionally, if any individual is incarcerated in any prison or jail, they are disqualified from jury service. Also, those who are currently required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Section 290 of the Penal Code based on the felony conviction are not eligible for jury service. Finally, any person who has been convicted of malfeasance in office and whose civil rights have not been restored may not serve on a jury.

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 even if you have been convicted of malfeasance in office. 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.

Please note that the above changes do not affect the eligibility and disqualification criteria for criminal or civil grand juries, as specified in Section 893 of the Penal Code.

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. The 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. Please click on the "careers" link at the bottom of our website.

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

When I speak with jurors, they sometimes ask whether I have ever been called for jury service. The answer is yes, many times. I've been summoned for service and served as a juror while working as an attorney, as a trial court judge, as an appellate justice, and as Chief Justice of California. Even Chief Justices are called to serve, and we do.

Serving on a jury is more than a civic responsibility—it is an opportunity for us to participate directly in our system of justice and contribute to our communities. Jury service enables each and every one of us to provide access to justice for all. 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.

Still, no matter how worthwhile, jury service makes demands on our time, and our courts continue to make improvements to jury service to make it as convenient and manageable as possible.

Contact Info

For information regarding the Jury Improvement Program, contact us at: