Petit Jury

A civil petit jury is typically made up of 6 to 12 persons. In a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfill a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or penalty should be. A criminal petit jury is usually made up of 12 members. Criminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence usually is set by a judge. Verdicts in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous, although the parties in a civil case may agree to a non-unanimous verdict. A jury's deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom.

[+] What does “on call” mean?[–] What does “on call” mean?

The phrase “on call” means you are on standby for jury service during time period shown. This is your “term of service” for jury duty; for petit jurors, the on call term of service is usually one month. You are not required to report every day of this term. You will receive a separate notice in the mail stating a specific day and time to report.

[+] When do I report for jury service? Do I report on the first day of the term?[–] When do I report for jury service? Do I report on the first day of the term?

You do not yet have a specific date and time to appear. We will mail you a separate “Notice to Appear” telling you when your service is required. You may receive more than one “notice” during your term of service, but you will probably not be required to attend court every day during the term, nor are you required to call the court every day, or even every week, during the term. When you receive a notice to appear, follow the directions on the form. Do not report unless you receive a notice to appear.

[+] What if I can’t serve?[–] What if I can’t serve?

If you feel unable to serve for any reason, please contact the jury section for detailed instructions on how to submit an excuse, partial excuse, or deferral request.

It’s important that you let us know as soon as possible when you have a problem serving.

When you submit a request of any kind to the jury section, it’s important that you check with us to be sure we received it, and DON’T ASSUME you’ve been excused unless you receive confirmation from us in writing.

[+] I’ll be unavailable for one or more weeks during my term. What should I do?[–] I’ll be unavailable for one or more weeks during my term. What should I do?

Because you are “on call” for your entire term, we ask that you notify us as soon as possible if you know you’ll be unavailable for any portion of that time. Don’t wait until you receive a “Notice to Appear” to request an excuse. Our jury plan allows us to grant you up to one week off during your term or to defer your service (one time only) to a different month; however, you must request these allowances in advance. Contact the jury section for detailed instructions on how to submit a request for excuse, partial excuse, or deferral.

[+] How many notices to appear will I receive?[–] How many notices to appear will I receive?

You may receive as few as one or two notices, or as many as one per week during your one-month term. Even after you’ve reported for jury duty, it’s possible you could receive another notice to appear later in the month, so it’s important to let us know as soon as possible if there’s any time during your term of service when you know you won’t be able to report.

[+] Notice to Appear[–] Notice to Appear

A “Notice to Appear” is a separate letter that instructs you to report on a certain date and time during your term—this is usually a Monday (unless Monday is a federal holiday).  The “notice” will give you a telephone number to call the night before your scheduled appearance. It is important that you call the phone number as instructed because trials are sometimes canceled within a day or two of their scheduled start date. You will need your “Juror Number” to access the automated phone system, so have it ready when you call, and listen to the entire recording. If the recording states you are required to attend the next day, refer to Reporting for Jury Duty.

If the recording tells you not to report, do not report or call again unless you receive another “Notice to Appear.” It’s possible we will only mail you one “Notice to Appear,” however, you could receive more than one notice, depending on the caseload of the court.

[+] Am I required to report?[–] Am I required to report?

Yes. Federal law states that “Any person summoned for jury service who fails to appear as directed may be ordered by the district court to appear forthwith and show cause for failure to comply with the summons. Any person who fails to show good cause for noncompliance with a summons may be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.” 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g).

[+] Why must I call the evening before I appear for jury duty?[–] Why must I call the evening before I appear for jury duty?

The court’s schedule occasionally changes at the last minute. The automated jury message system will tell you whether to report or not report. If you report to the courthouse when you have been instructed not to report, you will not be paid or given credit for that day’s attendance.