What every potential juror should know


If you are a juror in a pending civil case, or if you have been summoned for jury duty.

While Illinois law has only recently been amended to permit jurors to pose questions, other jurisdictions, notably Indiana, have long permitted the practice of jurors asking questions during trial. The following questions are among the most common posed by jurors in Indiana based upon the Jury Verdict Reporter as well as anecdotal experience of counsel, If you retain this information and are called upon to serve as a juror at some future point, it is important that you base your decision solely on the evidence presented at trial and the jury instructions given by the presiding judge, and you should not reveal the information you are about to read with your fellow jurors in deliberations or base your decision as a juror in a civil trial on the information contained below.

How are potential jurors contacted for service?
Names are found from voter registration lists or drivers licenses lists, and pulled at random. Those who are chosen are sent questionnaires that determine whether they meet the legal qualifications for jury service. It is legally required that the questionnaires be completed and returned to the clerk’s office. The questionnaires are reviewed to find those who are eligibility for jury service. They are then notified to appear at court on a certain date and time.

Do you have to answer a jury duty notice?
Yes. Its the law.

Who is eligible to serve as a juror?

The federal Jury Act states that individuals are legally disqualified from service:

if they are not a citizen of the United States 18 years old, who has resided for a period of one year within the judicial district;

if they are unable to read, write, and understand the English language with a degree of proficiency necessary to fill out a qualification form;

if they are unable to speak the English language;

if they are incapable by reason of mental or physical infirmity to render jury service; or

if they have felony charges pending against them or they have been convicted of a felony and their civil rights have not been restored.

 

In addition, the Jury Act lists three groups that are exempt from federal jury service:

members of the armed forces on active duty;

members of professional fire and police departments; and

“public officers” of federal, state or local governments, who are actively engaged in the performance of public duties.

What if the dates of my jury service conflict with work or vacation?
Its up to the judge. The Jury Act allows courts to grant temporary deferrals of service on the grounds of “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience”. You can provide the details on your questionnaire, but the judge makes the call.

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