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Views from the Bench - Jury Duty | May 27, 2022

Judge Tina Boyer - Jury Duty is a vital function in the administration of justice under our American system. It is direct citizen participation in government and is an important civic duty. However, the procedure and obligations to serve on a jury is often misunderstood.

 

 

 

 

Views from the Bench - Jury Duty | May 27, 2022

 

 

 

Views from the Bench

Jury Duty

 

Judge Tina Boyer

Jury Duty is a vital function in the administration of justice under our American system.  It is direct citizen participation in government and is an important civic duty.  However, the procedure and obligations to serve on a jury is often misunderstood.

All persons are eligible for jury duty in Perry County unless they are under eighteen, not a United States citizen, not a resident of Perry County, not able to communicate in the English language or have been convicted of a felony and have not had their civil rights restored.

Prospective jurors are drawn from the lists of registered voters and records from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  In the Perry County Court of Common Pleas, General Division, prospective jurors are mailed a summons for jury duty as well as a questionnaire, which they must complete and mail back to the court.  When a prospective juror is drawn, he or she will serve for a period of three (3) months.  Many people mistakenly believe that they have to report each day or even each week during the three (3) month period.  That assumption is not true.  There are times when jurors are not ordered to appear at all during that time period.  Other jurors may be ordered to appear frequently during the time period.  The number of times prospective jurors are ordered to appear depends upon when jury trials are scheduled.  It further depends upon whether or not the case is settled before the day of the trial.

When a jury trial is scheduled, the court mails a letter to the jurors a week before the trial informing them when and where they have to report for jury duty.  Jurors may call a recorded line the day before the trial to find out if the trial is still scheduled.  They also have the option of providing a phone number and email address to the court.  The Court sends a text, phone call and email to those who want to be notified in that manner to tell them if the trial is still going forward.  Finally, jurors have the ability to visit the Court’s website at pccommonpleas.com to see if the trial is still scheduled.

There are some exemptions which allow a person to be excused from jury duty.  For example, an individual who is 75 years old or older and does not wish to serve can be excused.  If serving on a jury is a physical hardship, the person can be excused.  The Court has discretion to excuse other prospective jurors from appearing for a jury trial which will be determined on a case-by-case basis.    Further, just because a person appears to serve on a jury does not mean the person will be seated on the jury.  The jury selection process is called voir dire, which means to speak the truth.  This is a process where the court and attorneys ask the jurors questions to determine their qualification and suitability to serve as a juror in that particular case.  A criminal jury trial must consist of twelve (12) jurors and at least one (1) alternate.  A civil jury trial must consist of eight (8) jurors and at least one (1) alternate.

Employers are prohibited from discharging or discipling employees for missing work due to jury service as long as the employee gives reasonable notice to the employer prior to the jury service.  An employer is further prohibited from requiring an employee to use sick or vacation time to serve on a jury.

If anyone has further questions about jury duty, they may call the staff at the Court of Common Pleas, General Division at (740) 342-1204.   Judge Boyer is the Judge of the Perry County Court of Common Pleas Court, General Division.

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