If you’ve received a jury duty summons, chances are you have at least a few questions about it — or maybe just one: “How do I get out of this?”
Serving on a jury is a right and a privilege for a US citizen. But it can also be a confusing process. To be better prepared, check out the answers to seven of the most common questions about jury duty.
US Jury Duty Questions & Answers
1. How was I chosen?
Courts keep a list of eligible jurors that are selected at random whenever a jury term is required. The court compiles this from sources like voter registration lists and lists of licensed drivers.
2. What are the requirements to serve as a juror?
While requirements may vary slightly from state to state, the general requirements are:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be a resident of the state and county in which you are asked to serve.
- You must be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form.
- You must be physically and mentally able to serve.
- You must not be a convicted felon.
3. Can US immigrants serve on a jury?
Only US citizens can be jurors. Both documented and undocumented immigrants often receive a summons for jury duty, as many are licensed drivers. The summons will usually ask if you are a US citizen.
Immigrants can prove they are not eligible for jury duty by showing the court their green card, passport, or immigration papers.
4. Do I have to serve on a jury?
If you meet the above requirements, you must show up for jury duty. The court will make some exceptions for people who suffer undue hardship or other extreme inconveniences as a result of being summoned.
If you are not legitimately inconvenienced by having to serve on a jury, do not try to think of ways to convince the court that you cannot serve — there are even penalties for avoiding jury duty!
5. What about my job?
Your job is protected by state law — an employer cannot fire you or threaten your position when you receive jury duty. Jurors may even receive a small daily wage.
6. Why will I be examined by the court?
The examination seeks to find out if you have any personal interest, prejudice, or preconceived notions about the case — essentially anything that would prevent you from being an impartial juror.
For example, you may have already read a great deal about the case and have formed opinions, or you may be related to someone involved in the case.
If this occurs, the court will excuse you from the jury panel.
7. If I am selected as a juror, what is expected of me?
If you are selected, you must take an oath stating that you will consider all the evidence in the case, follow the instructions given to you, deliberate impartially, and reach a fair verdict.
You are not allowed to talk about the case with anyone during the trial, not even family members or other jurors. You must avoid all media exposure regarding the case, including relevant newspaper articles or news broadcasts.
As a juror, you are required to remain impartial and reach your decision only on the evidence presented during the trial.
8. Are interpreters available for jurors?
If you have limited English proficiency and receive a jury duty summons, whether this is appropriate grounds for excusal depends on the state where you reside. In New Mexico, for example, all citizens are required to serve, regardless of whether they speak English fluently or not. Contact your local district court to determine whether you are eligible for exemption based on your level of English proficiency.
If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, you are entitled to a qualified American Sign Language interpreter and cannot be excused from jury duty based on your hearing ability. This right is guaranteed by The Americans with Disabilities Act.
If you have limited English proficiency or are deaf or hard-of-hearing and require an interpreter for jury duty you must first alert your local district court. In most cases, the court will provide a qualified interpreter for you (although court interpreting guidelines vary by state).
You may also seek out your own certified court interpreter through the help of a professional language provider such as Legal Language Services. Our interpreters are well-versed in legal terminology and have years of experience interpreting in court settings. Contact us to learn more.
If you have additional questions regarding jury duty, you should ask court officials when you are first summoned or before you are sworn in as a juror.