How to prepare for jury duty: Here’s what you need to know

Jury duty is a civic responsibility and obligation of every citizen. The United States Constitution obligates the registered voters to perform jury duty when they are called by the Court. There’s no specific date or day where you need to serve the jury duty as cities and counties often maintain the roles of the voters that are often summoned to the courthouse to perform jury duty.

Depending on the roles, some jurors are dismissed immediately and some of them are held to question by a judge or attorney. The survivors of the first interview are more expected to become jury members in a court trial.

If you are summoned to perform jury duty, then you may be wondering how to prepare for jury duty? Learn about preparing for jury duty and the arrangements that you need to do before confirming your services to the pool.

How to prepare for jury duty

If you have been summoned to perform jury duty, you must do several arrangements and remain prepared for multiple scenarios. These arrangements may include informing your employer, scheduling childcare, and arranging alternatives to everything which includes your involvements. You may also have to check the compensation policy on jury duty that your employer may have to compensate against your service.

On reaching the courthouse, first, you need to answer the Confidential Jurors Questionnaire (CJQ) before you start acting as a juror. The questionnaire will help the parties and the judges in deciding whether you are a suitable candidate as a juror for the specific case. In the questionnaire, you are asked about the general information about your employer, your family background, and whether you had any connections with the court system or experience with handling specific trials.

If you are allowed to sit in the juror section, your CJQ will be kept securely, if you are not, then this form will be discarded within 24 hours of submission.

Ratify if you are needed for the duty

Oftentimes, even after you are summoned to perform the jury duty, the court schedule changes. The cases that need to be heard on the day may move forward due to the unavailability of the witnesses or concerned judges, or the available judges are committed to other case trials. If anything like this happens, the need for the jurors will be canceled. You should confirm your need at the juror panel a day before your jury date.

If you have provided your email address while confirming your availability on the required dates, then you will receive a confirmation email from the court a day before if you are needed at the juror pool. If not, you can find out if you are needed in two ways:

  • Make a call on to one of the given numbers listed on your Reminder notice after 3 PM.
  • Log in to the Juror Service website after 4 PM.

Jury selection process

After when you are seated in the courtroom, the attorneys and the judge will come for jury selection and voir dire that is part of the trial. The judge will introduce himself/herself and the attorneys and explain the case. Next, the attorneys will begin questioning from the jury panels, this is called voir dire. The lawyer assigned for the plaintiff will first speak to the jury panel then the defense lawyer will be permitted to speak to jurors in the jury duty panel.

This voir dire is practiced to determine whether the jury panel is biased against cases that could make a difference in concluding the trial. This biasness should have nothing to do with age, religion, or cultural differences. When a lawyer is permitted to do voir dire with the jurors on duty, he can ask questions about their beliefs, life experiences, and opinion on the general issues. For instance, a lawyer may ask if the monetary damages should be awarded in case of pain and suffering or what the jurors think about child abuse, etc.

A lawyer is not allowed to provide lengthy speeches conveying the facts about the trial or the case. The lawyers are also not permitted to deliver their perspectives concerning a trial. You must interrupt a lawyer as a juror if the speech gets lengthy or the general facts are unnecessarily elongated.

Final call

Appearing as a juror and serving a jury duty both are rewarding and important duties in an American judicial system. When you are summoned to perform jury duty, you are helping your court system in resolving disputes and are serving as a government officer. Your opinion will affect the life and the verdict of the trial participants, this is why you need to take the process very seriously. Whatever the result will be, you would be thanked by the judges and the lawyers for your juror services regardless of the verdict at the end of the trial.

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