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Frequently Asked Questions -- Jury Service
What should I do if I am sick or have an emergency the day that I am supposed to report?
If an emergency occurs such as a sudden illness, accident, or death in the family -- please contact Jury Administration immediately. You will be asked to fax a letter explaining why you were unable to appear for jury service. If necessary, further documentation may be requested.
What happens if I am late for jury service?
It is important that you arrive on time. Jury selection cannot begin until all jurors are present. If you are unavoidably delayed, please call Jury Administration immediately.
What can I expect on my first day of jury service?
When you report, you will be checked in by jury staff. After a brief orientation, you will report to the courtroom where you will take part in the selection of a jury for the trial scheduled to begin that day. Jury selection time varies. Generally, you should know by noon whether you are selected to serve. This may vary depending on the complexity of the case.
What happens during the jury selection process?
Once you are seated in the courtroom, the judge will inform you about the case and introduce the lawyers and other parties who are involved. You will also take an oath, in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully.
After you are sworn in, you will begin a questioning process called “voir dire,” which means “to speak the truth.” During this process, the judge and the lawyers will question you and other prospective jurors to find out if you have any knowledge about the case, any personal interest, or any feelings that might make it hard for you to be impartial. Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. If you are uncomfortable answering them, you may ask the judge if you may approach the bench and answer the question privately.
Remember, questions are not asked to embarrass you. They are intended to make sure members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences which might prevent them from making an impartial decision.
How many people are selected for jury service?
The number of jurors that are selected depends on the type of case. For a civil trial, six to eight jurors may be selected. For a criminal trial, twelve to fourteen may be selected. The court always calls more jurors than needed for the jury selection process.
As a prospective juror, what types of cases can I expect to hear in federal court as compared to state court?
Examples include cases involving challenges to the constitutionality of a law, controversies between states, claims against U.S. government agencies, alleged violations of federal law or civil rights, disputes among parties from different states, potential damages of more than $75,000 or disputes between U.S. citizens and another country.
For more information on how federal court cases differ from state court cases, please see Comparing State and Federal Courts.
How long is a typical jury day and will breaks be provided?
A normal jury day will begin between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. and will end between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Once the jury is in deliberation, however, the time may vary.
Yes, breaks will be provided. Generally, there will be a mid-morning break, a break for lunch and two afternoon breaks. Snacks and beverages are provided by the court; however, you are welcome to bring your own if you have certain dietary restrictions.
How long does the trial last?
The length of each trial depends on the complexity of the case. Generally, trials last between three and five days. Please check the back of your Summons for any exceptions. Also, the judge will inform you the morning of jury selection as to how long the trial will last. Please inform the judge of any serious hardships at this time.
Will I be “sequestered” and have to stay overnight?
The need to be “sequestered” (or held overnight) is extremely rare. This should not be a concern.
Is my employer obligated to pay my regular salary during jury service?
Prior to reporting, please check with your employer regarding its jury duty policy. In Indiana, such policies are entirely discretionary with employers; employers are not specifically obligated to continue jurors’ regular pay during jury service.
Where can I get proof of my jury service to give to my employer?
If you are not selected as a juror, you may go to the Clerk’s Office and ask for a Juror’s Certificate of Attendance. If you are selected for service, you will receive a certificate at the end of your service.
Could I be called again for federal jury service?
Yes. However, if you have served on a jury in federal court in the past two (2) years, you may be excused from serving.
What is the mailing address?
All correspondence relating to federal court jury service for the U. S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, should be sent to:
U. S. District Court
46 E. Ohio Street, Room 105
Indianapolis, IN 46204
What if I don’t complete the information mailed to me?
If you do not complete the information requested, you may be summoned by the Court to report at your expense for completion of the Questionnaire at this office.
What happens if I do not report for jury service?
Title 28, United States Code, §1866(g) provides, “Any person summoned for jury service who fails to appear as directed shall be ordered by the District Court to appear forthwith and show cause for his 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 $1,000.00, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.”