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Selection for Jury Duty
During the jury selection process, lawyers for each side are allowed to question potential jurors; if a potential juror is biased or has a conflict of interest, they could be dismissed from the jury pool. Potential jurors also may be dismissed by the court if they're not needed, whether because a full jury has been seated or because of a settlement or plea negotiation. If dismissed reasonably early in the day, an employee may be expected to return to work for the remainder of the day.
Finally, the potential juror may be picked to serve on the jury. If that happens, the trial may be short and quick, or it may go on for months. They could possibly even be sequestered, or separated from their daily life until the trial concludes and a verdict is reached.
An employer’s jury duty policy needs to take all of these possibilities into consideration. The policy must fairly treat employees who are serving on a jury which is their civic duty. But, the policy must also protect the interests of the employer who needs work to continue.
DOES EMPLOYEE GET PAID?
As already mentioned above, jury duty leave can be paid and unpaid.
The only common thing is that employers are forced to give time off the work to any employee who is invited to do jury duty.
As court trials can take a long time, it wouldn’t be fair to ask employers to keep paying their employees for such a long time even if they are in no ability to work full hours because of their jury duty.
That is why law defines rates and conditions for both employers and employees.
These laws are not universal for each state, which means they vary from one state to another.
Laws in some states have policies that clearly define the amount of paid days employee could get for performing jury duty.
If that limit is crossed, then the state itself pays a certain amount of money to the jury members, depending on different factors, like their own salaries.
All of this depends on the state itself because different states have different laws.
States usually leave managing this up to the companies, so they have to make valid policies on jury duty.
When doing this, they need to take into the account what the laws in that state say, whether it is mandatory for employers to pay the full amount or whether the state pays some percentage of the amount needed.
That amount varies from state to state, but it is usually the number of money employees would have earned if they had been working instead of being on jury duty.
In some states, the law clearly says that employer must cover those expenses and that employers are not allowed to reduce that amount. It also depends on the actual type of work.
People who work for the government institutions and those who work in a private sector have different types of employers, thus, the law defines slightly different actions for those groups.
We will present some of the results of the study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The results show that out of all people who are employed in a state government sector, around 92% of those people get their payment for jury duty leave, which is a really astonishing number.
It is a slightly different situation for people who are employed in a local government sector. Around 88% of them get their payment for jury duty leave.
As for the people who work for the Federal government, all of them get their normal salaries even during jury duty leave, which is understandable, since they are working for the highest level of the government.
Private Sector Employees
When we talk about the employees who work in the private sector, the situation is not so good as it is in the government sector.
The situation there is that only 68% of the employees get their payment for jury duty leave.
This number varies and it is not fixed for all jobs in the private sector.
It mostly depends on the job itself, whether it is highly paid or not.
The title is also very important, which means that important people who are doing some jobs that are considered prestigious, probably get paid for their jury duty leave.
On the other side, there are jobs that are classified lower on the list, so on those jobs, there is a higher chance of people not getting paid for their jury duty leave.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO AS A JUROR?
Since we went over the whole process of getting to the jury seat, now it is the time to tell you what would you have to do if you get there yourself.
The first step is to take an oath. Same as with everyone else who comes to the court to testify, members of the jury have to take an oath as well.
Of course, they swear that they will consider all the evidence presented to them by attorneys, that they will follow all instructions given by the judge and that they will eventually reach a verdict that is both right and fair towards everyone present.
Next important thing to remember is that members of a jury are not allowed to talk about the case to anyone while the trial is in progress.
Not even amongst themselves.
Apart from that, they should avoid reading about the case they are on since negative propaganda could cloud their judgment regarding the verdict.
Following that, members of the jury are not allowed to make assumptions about the case and can only use the evidence presented to them in order to reach the final verdict.
All outside factors are not to be considered.
How can you get excused from jury duty?
Look, I get it. You saw the jury duty letter and thought, "How I am going to get out of this?"
We all have busy lives and jury duty can be a major inconvenience. But, like voting, it's an important civic duty that we shouldn't take for granted. (I'll get to this shortly.)
All that said, sometimes jury duty is going to be impractical or impossible, which is why courts allow people to be exempted or excused in certain circumstances.
Here's a short and abridged list of some of the reasons you might be excused, courtesy of David Tait, a professor of justice research at Western Sydney University.
- If you are self-employed or run a small business that would be affected by your absence;
- If you are a student or apprentice;
- If you have a health issue or live with a disability that would make jury service difficult;
- If you aren't living in the state where you have been summoned to attend court, or if you have transport difficulties (e.g. you live very far from the court);
- Some professions may exempt you from serving on a jury. This usually covers criminal lawyers, police and other people that work in the criminal justice system, but each jurisdiction is different.
For most people though, simply having to work is not going to be a good enough reason to avoid jury service.
For a case in point, consider the chief financial officer who tried to dodge jury duty in Victoria because he had meetings to attend.
For his indiscretion, he was fined $2,000 and ordered to do 80 hours of community service.
More Ways to Get Excused From Jury Duty
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Why You Still Might Be Picked for Jury Duty
According to the Federal Judicial Center, Congress requires that district courts create a plan for selecting jurors. Usually, this involves having the clerk of court randomly draw names from the list of registered voters in the district but sometimes from other sources, such as the list of licensed drivers.
Only in Ohio and Wyoming do state courts use only the list of registered voters to build jury pools, not drivers lists or tax rolls. That means you can avoid jury duty in county and state court in those two states by simply staying out of the voting booth. Everywhere else? You're likely to end up in a jury pool at some point in your life if you drive a car or pay taxes.
Get help registering
You can get help registering from your local Electoral Registration Office.
There’s an easy read guide about registering to vote.