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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Juror Duty
1. Is Jury Duty Mandatory?
Yes, unless you have been excused by the Court. The United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases. Your participation as a juror helps make that possible.
2. What Is the Difference Between a petit and grand jury?
A. A petit jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial, and returns a verdict. A verdict in a civil case may be a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant involved guilty or not guilty.
B. A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether a person should have formal charges filed by the government. If the grand jury finds probable cause, it will return a written statement of the charges, called an indictment. Grand jurors sit on a panel of 16 to 23 jurors and generally serve one to three days per month for 18 months. Grand jury terms may be extended if necessary.
3. How Am I Selected for Jury Duty?Currently, jurors in the Southern District of West Virginia are selected at random from lists of active voter registration records. If the Court directs, and the District Jury Plan provides, these lists can be supplemented with drivers' license records and state-issued identification card records.
4. What If I Receive a Juror Qualification Questionnaire?
The questionnaires are used to determine who is qualified to serve on jury duty. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1863(b)(6), or as subsequently amended, the following persons are exempt from jury service:
A. Members in active service of the Armed Forces of the United States; or
B. Members of the fire or police department of any State, the District of Columbia, any territory or possession of the United States, or any subdivision of a State, the District of Columbia, or such territory or possession; or
C. Public officers in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the Government of the United States, or of any State, the District of Columbia, any territory or possession of the United States, or any subdivision of a State, the District of Columbia, or such territory or possession, who are actively engaged in the performance of official duties.
Regardless of your status, you must fully complete the form, sign it, and return it in the business reply envelope provided. As an alternative, you may log in to eJuror and complete the form now. This requires your 9-digit participant number; e.g., 1001XXXXX.
5. Can I Be Excused?
There are two types of excuses: Permanent and Temporary. Excuses are not automatically granted. Federal law that allows the granting of excuses is very strict. All requests for excuses and postponements are to be submitted by you in writing to the Office of the Clerk, marked to the attention of the Jury Clerk. Do not have your employer write a letter for you. If you are requesting a medical excuse, you must have a detailed note from your doctor. The Court cannot call and verify your medical condition with your doctor stating why you are unable to attend. Please do not wait until the last minute to request an excuse. Allow time for the paperwork to be received and reviewed by the court before your reporting date. Upon receipt of these requests, the jury clerk will submit them to the Judge for a ruling. The jury clerk will notify you either by telephone and/or written notification immediately upon receipt of the Judge's reply to your request. A juror should not assume a request will be granted. An unexcused absence may result in a charge of contempt of Court and a subsequent fine and/or imprisonment.
6. What If I Fail to Appear for Jury Duty?
Title 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g) states 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 (3) days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.
7. What If I Am Late?
It is extremely important to be prompt both in the morning and after lunch. Promptness is most important when serving in a trial since the entire proceeding can be delayed because of the tardiness of just one juror.
8. Does My Employer Have to Let Me off to Serve on a Jury?
All permanent employees who serve on juries are protected under title 28 U.S.C. § 1875. You cannot be forced to use your vacation or sick leave to serve on a jury. If your employer fires you, threatens to fire you, intimidates or coerces you because you have been called for jury duty, report the incident immediately to the jury clerk.
9. What penalties might an employer face if they discharge, threaten to discharge or intimidate an employee due to the employee's jury service?
(1) may be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by an employee by reason of such violation;
(2) may be enjoined from further violations of this section and ordered to provide other appropriate relief, including but not limited to the reinstatement of any employee discharged by reason of his jury service; and
(3) shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each violation as to each employee.
(4) shall be subject required to perform community service work.
10. Does My Employer Have to Pay Me While I Serve?
Under the law, the employer is not required to pay salary or wages while the employee is serving jury duty, but most private employers do pay employees during their jury service. Some pay employees in full, while others deduct your $40 daily juror pay from your regular wages.
11. Will I Be Paid for My Jury Service?The U. S. District Court will pay you an attendance fee of $40.00 per day (unless you are a federal government employee), round-trip mileage from your home to the courthouse at the rate set by the United States General Services Administration at the time of the jury service, and parking fees. Jury checks are mailed to your home address within two weeks from the date of service. The attendance payment of $40.00 per day is taxable income and must be reported on your income tax return. The mileage and parking fees paid to you are not taxable. At the end of the year, a 1099 MISC. will be mailed to all jurors who earn $600.00 or more in attendance fees in the calendar year.
12. Are Meals Provided?
No, meals are not provided. We provide coffee, tea, soft drinks and water. You may bring a lunch if you wish as there is a refrigerator and microwave for your use. In addition, there are vending machines and a concession stand in the building. There are restaurants and fast-food establishments convenient to the courthouses, and jury staff will be happy to advise you of locations.
13. What If My Employer Wants Proof That I Was Serving on Jury Duty?
Upon request, the Clerk's Office can furnish you with a certificate stating the date you reported and that you were paid an attendance fee. We do not list the mileage or parking fee that you were paid since it is a direct reimbursement of your expenses and is not recoverable by your employer.
14. How Long Will I Serve?
Petit jurors will be on call for 3 months or, if selected, until the time the trial concludes. When you are called to report for jury duty, you will be informed of the length of the trial and the start date.
Grand jurors serve once a month for an 18-month term of service. The United States Attorney’s Office can request an extension if necessary.
15. Why must I Call the Evening Before I Appear for Jury Duty?
The Court will mail a “Notice to Appear” to jurors prior to their report date. Your notice to report will include a telephone number to call the day prior to reporting for jury service. Calling times are explained in the letter. Frequently, a case may be dismissed or settled after you have been notified to report. If that occurs, the telephone recording will instruct you NOT to report. Occasionally, jurors will drive long distances to report for jury duty without calling the number before they leave their homes, only to arrive at the courthouse to learn that the case has settled and the trial cancelled. If you fail to call and the case has settled or been dismissed and you report anyway, you will not be compensated for your time or travel expense.
16. What Is the Dress Code for Jurors?There is no formal dress code, but we ask that you dress within common sense standards of ordinary taste, respecting the fact that you are a key participant in a court proceeding. :
17. Where Can I Park If I Drive to Jury Duty?
Charleston: Parking is available at the Charleston Town Center Mall parking garage on Quarrier Street and the Kanawha County Judicial Building parking garage on Goshorn Street. Do not park at a metered space on the street or in a metered city parking lot when reporting for jury duty.
Beckley: There are no parking facilities located close to the federal building. You should park in a legal, metered space when you report for jury duty. If you receive a parking ticket while you are in court, you should take the ticket to the Clerk's Office.
Bluefield: Parking is available at one parking building close to the federal building. Please park on the 3rd floor and leave your juror letter on your car dash. Do not park at a metered space on the street when reporting for jury duty.
Huntington: Parking is available at numerous facilities located close to the federal building. Do not park at a parking meter on the street or in a metered city parking lot.
18. Of What Security Issues Should I Be Aware?Due to increased security at all Federal Courthouses and buildings, it will be necessary for you to show a picture ID and pass through a metal detector as you enter the court facility. Your purses, bags, and briefcases will be X-rayed at the same time. To expedite your entrance, it is recommended that you wear as little jewelry as possible. Some items that are not allowed into the courthouse are: cameras or cell phones capable of taking pictures; mace/stun guns; tape recorders; aerosol cans (such as hair spray); liquids of any type; knives, including pocket knives and metal nail files; and all firearms or dangerous weapons in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 930.
19. I Was Permanently Excused from Previous Federal Jury Service, but I Received Another Questionnaire. Why?
We randomly select names from the Voter Registration lists every two years. When you are excused from jury service your name remains on the voter files, so there is the possibility of being selected as a prospective juror again.
20. If I Have Any Other Questions, Who Can I Call?The contacts for any other juror questions are:Charleston: Asley Orr at 304-347-3062Beckley: Susan Richmond at 304-253-7481Bluefield: Melissa Keene at 304-327-9798Huntington: Marsha Wilson at 304-529-5588