Facts For Trial Jurors
The following information is provided by Sherry M. Long, Clerk of Courts of Long County, for the benefit of persons summoned for jury service. If you have additional questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your Role as a Trial Juror
- Courts that Conduct Trials
- Types of Cases
- How You Become a Juror
- Deferrals and Excusals
- Reporting for Service
Your Role as a Trial Juror
Trial by jury is one of the constitutional rights that we enjoy as citizens of the republic in which we are blessed to live. Unlike in many other countries, all persons in the United State are entitled to by judged by a jury of their peers when charged with criminal wrongdoing or when having civil issues that need to be decided in a court of law.
Your presence for jury service is invaluable. Whether or not you are selected to serve as a trial juror during your term of service, you are making an invaluable contribution by your presence, availability and willingness to serve.
When selected to serve as a juror, you become an active participant in the administration of justice. You should view this responsibility as one of the most important duties that you will ever be called upon to serve in your lifetime. It is an honor and a responsibility which has been made possible as the result of the sacrifice of millions of Americans who have fought and died to preserve our system of justice.
On behalf of the judges, attorneys, parties and other court officials of Long County, thank you for your willingness to perform the very, very important civic duty. You have no reason to believe that anyone can do a better job than you. As has been the case for thousands of jurors before you, the verdict is yours!
Courts that Conduct Jury Trials
Long County has two courts in which jury trials are authorized by law. The Superior Court has jurisdiction over all felony (serious) criminal cases, exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving title to land, divorce, child custody, adoption, equity and construction of wills. State Court has jurisdiction over all misdemeanor (non-felony) criminal cases and jurisdiction over all civil matters not exclusively delegated to superior court by law.
Types of Cases
As a juror, you may be required to serve on civil and/or criminal cases.
Civil. A civil case involved a disagreement between two or more private individuals, corporations, or entities that that have asked the court to resolve the matter in dispute. Some examples of civil cases are divorce, breach of contract or personal injury. A civil case if filed on behalf of a party that seeks relief. Normally, a party filing a civil suit seeks an award of monetary damages to compensate the plaintiff for a loss or injury. The party initiating the suit is called the PLAINTIFF and the party being sued is called the DEFENDANT.
Criminal. A criminal case is an issue between the State and one or more individuals and is based upon the occurrence of an alleged violation of a state statue enacted for the benefit of the public. The court is asked to punish the offender. Examples of criminal cases are murder, burglary, shoplifting and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In a criminal case the action is brought in the name and on behalf of the people of the State of Georgia as plaintiff against the person accused of committing a crime, who is the DEFENDANT. The district attorney is the prosecuting attorney in superior court and the solicitor-general is the prosecutor in state court. Jurors decide guilt or innocence in a criminal case and are not responsible for imposing punishment, except in a capital punishment (death penalty) trial.
How You Become a Juror
If the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia determines that you are eligible for jury service, your name is placed in the county’s master jury pool stored on a computer program. Names of potential jurors are randomly selected by the computer-based jury selection program for specific selection dates. Once selected, you will receive from the Clerk’s Office a jury summons commanding your appearance for service. The summons provides the following information: the court in which you will serve, the date and time of jury selection, where you are to report for service, directions to the courthouse and for parking, answers to common questions jurors ask, a form for asking for deferral or excusal from jury service and a form for providing identifying information about yourself. You should return the forms to the Clerk’s Office within 10 days after you receive the summons. A self-addressed, stamped envelope is provided for that purpose.
Deferrals and Excusals
Deferral from Jury Service. As indicated above, all persons summoned for jury service must report on the date and time stated in the jury summons. You may ask for a deferral from jury service if the following circumstances exist (as provided by O.C.G.A. §15-12-1):
- You will be engaged in work necessary to the public health, safety, or good order during the time you have been summoned for jury service established for your jury duty;
- You are a full-time student and enrolled and taking classes or exams at a college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary school;
- You are the primary caregiver having active care and custody of a child under four years of age and have no reasonably available alternative child care;
- You are on active-duty military status;
- You are 70 years of age or older and no longer desire to serve on jury duty;
- You show “other good cause” why you should be exempt from jury duty.
Requests for deferral from jury service must be made in writing to the Clerk of Court. An affidavit is available for your convenience. If you are granted a deferral by the clerk, you will be re-summoned for service during the next term of court.
Excusal from Jury Service. You may be permanently excused from jury service if:
- You are not a citizen of the United States;
- You are not a resident of Long County;
- You are a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored as the result of a pardon;
- You are permanently physically or mentally ill and have a doctor or psychiatrist provide the clerk an affidavit requesting your excusal from jury service for this purpose.
Requests for excusal from jury service must be made in writing to the Clerk of Court. An affidavit is available at the Clerk’s Office for this purpose. When an excusal is granted by the clerk, you will not be called for jury duty again; however, as a result of the jury revision process, you may receive additional jury qualification questionnaires to confirm that your status for ineligibility still exists.
An individual is exempt from service as a grand juror if he or she:
- a) Has been or are presently charged with a felony offense and is in a pretrial release program, a pretrial release and diversion program, a pretrial intervention and diversion program, or a similar diversion program from another state, or a similar federal court diversion program for a felony offense.
- b) Is currently serving a sentence for a felony offense in this or any other state.
- c) Is participating in a drug court division, mental health court division, veterans’ court division, a similar court program from another state, or a similar federal court program for a felony offense.
Reporting for Service
All persons summoned for jury service must report on the date and time stated on the summons unless deferred or excused by the clerk of court. Failure to do so may subject you to the contempt power of the court (a fine, incarceration and/or both). Report to the Long County Courthouse. Security officers are stationed at the main entrance to the courthouse, where they will check you using metal detection devices to ensure that you and other entering the courthouse are not bringing any weapon into the facility. Please do not bring cell phones and/or pages or newspapers into the building, since the security officers will take them from you and hold them until you leave the courthouse. The security officers will direct you to the courtroom. Parking is generally at a premium, so you should arrive at least thirty minutes prior to the court time if you want to find a parking space close to the courthouse.
Since jury service is a mandated civic duty, it is very important that employers support employees who are called for jury service. Individuals, businesses and corporations benefit from and are protected by the courts and, thus, the ongoing support of the private sector is a necessary component of the jury system. Civil litigation commonly involved business-related disputes (including actions concerning contracts, wrongful termination, product defects, environmental issues, malpractice, intellectual fraud and personal injury).
As an employer, you are required by law to allow an employee time off from work to serve on jury duty. O.C.G.A. §34-1-3 prohibits discrimination against an employee for his or her attendance at a judicial proceeding in response to a court order or process, which includes jury summonses. An employee is entitled to pay while serving as a juror. In 1989, Georgia’s attorney general interpreted state law pertaining jurors, stating than an employer must pay an employee’s salary when the employee misses work due to jury duty. (See 1989 Op. Att’y Gen. No. 89-55).
Each juror will be reimbursed $30.00 for each day that you serve as a juror. The reimbursement is for expenses you incur while serving as a juror. Additionally, a certificate of service will be provided for each day you serve. You may provide the certificate to your employer as proof of your service.
During and after jury selection and during the trial:
- You must always be on time. Tardiness causes delay to the court, attorneys, parties, witnesses and other jurors.
- During a recess or break, you must not talk to anyone concerning the case. Wear the juror identification badge provided to you by the clerk at all times during your service. If anyone tries to talk with you about the case in which you are serving as a juror, you warn them that you are a juror and that you can not discuss the case and, if they continue to try to talk with you about the case, you should report their attempt to the court, the bailiff(s), the clerk or the sheriff. Also, you should not read any newspaper articles or listen or watch any televised news programs concerning the case(s) for which you have been selected for service as a juror.
- Careful attention should be paid to the judge, attorneys and witnesses. If you can not hear what is being said, you should bring that fact to the judge’s attention. Hearing impairment devises are provided for juror’s usage in the courtroom upon request.
- When a court session begins and the judge enters the courtroom, everyone in the courtroom should rise as instructed by the attending bailiffs.