Jury FAQs

Most Frequently Asked Jury Questions
Click a question to view the answer:

 

How was I selected for jury duty?
Potential jurors are randomly selected by computer from voter registration lists provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State, Voter Registration Division.
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What is a Petit Jury?
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 for the defendant. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant guilty or not guilty.
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What is a Grand Jury?
A GRAND jury determines whether there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether the government should file formal criminal charges. If the grand jury finds probable cause, it returns a written statement of the charges called an "indictment". Grand jurors serve a term of eighteen (18) months.
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How long will I serve?
PETIT JURORS are "on call" for one month. You are required to check your reporting status every Friday of the month that you are on call. Typically, trials last about two to four days in length but some may be longer. Your summons indicates a start date to verify reporting status on the automated information line at 1-866-624-7516 or the court’s website at www.pamd.uscourts.gov.
GRAND JURORS serve a term of eighteen (18) months, and are usually required to appear in court two (2) days per month.

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Who is exempt from jury service?
A. Members in active service in the Armed Forces of the United States
B. Members of the fire or police departments of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or subdivision thereof
C. Public officers in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of the government of the United States, or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or subdivision thereof, who are actively engaged in the performance of official duties

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Can I postpone my jury service or be excused from serving?
We recognize that jury service rarely comes at a convenient time. But because that is true for nearly all individuals called for jury duty most individuals will be required to serve.
If you want to postpone your service to a later date or be excused, you must make a request in writing to the jury office of the courthouse to which you have been summoned. You must describe the reasons you believe you should be postponed or excused and provide as much information as possible, including supporting documentation. The request should be received by the jury department at least five (5) business days before your term of service begins. You may also request a postponement or excuse via the court’s website after you have completed your questionnaire. Log into eJuror and select from the options Postponement, Excuse or Temporary Excuse. If you need to request a week or less, select the option Temporary Excuse and follow the instructions. You may check the automated information line or the court’s website select "eJuror" for an answer. You are considered qualified for service unless/until the court approves your request.

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Who may be excused from jury service?
(You can still choose to serve, even if you fall into one of the following categories)

  1. Persons over 70 years of age;
  2. Actively engaged members of the clergy;
  3. Persons having active care and custody, during hours of normal jury service, of a child or children under 12 years of age whose health/safety would be jeopardized by their absence for jury service, or a person who is essential to the care of the aged or infirmed persons;
  4. Actively practicing attorneys, physicians and dentists;
  5. Persons who have served as a grand or petit juror in a state or federal court within the past two years;
  6. Any person whose services are so essential to the operations of a business, commercial or agricultural enterprise that said enterprise must close if such person were required to perform jury duty;
  7. Volunteer safety personnel who serve without compensation as firefighters, members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew for a public agency. Public agency for the purpose of this plan means the United States, the State of Pennsylvania, or any unit of local government, department or instrumentality of any of the foregoing;
  8. Teachers or students in actual attendance at a university, college academy, or other school having a regular schedule of classes;
  9. People for whom jury service would cause undue hardship or extreme inconvenience.

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How will I know when to report to the courthouse?

  1. On the date indicated on your summons, call the toll free juror automated information line at 1-866-624-7516 or eJuror on this web site for reporting instructions
  2. You will be asked to enter your nine-digit participant number and the first three digits of your last name
  3. If you have an appearance date, you will be told when and where to report. If you do not have an appearance date, you must check every Friday until you are told your term of service is complete

If the message instructs you to report to the courthouse for jury service on a particular date, you must call the juror automated information line at 1-866-624-7516 or check eJuror the night before the reporting date to confirm that you are still needed the following day. Cases frequently settle or get continued just before trial is ready to begin, and you may not need to report. The instructions will either state that you are still scheduled to appear or it will indicate your appearance date has been removed.

If the reporting date has been cancelled, you will need to check the next Friday for your up-to-date instructions. If you report for service without calling the juror information line or the web site and you are not scheduled to report, you will not be paid for your attendance or reimbursed for your travel. Always check for up-to-date reporting instructions.
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What is the dress code for jurors?
Appropriate attire for jurors is clothing that would be worn for an important business meeting. You are requested not to wear shorts, tank tops, tee shirts, halters or similar attire when reporting for jury service.
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What should I bring with me to the courthouse?
You should bring your juror summons with you when you report. The bar code is used to verify attendance by the jury office. Cellular telephones and laptop computers are allowed in the Jury Assembly Room. These electronic devices must be turned off in the courtroom. The court does not provide wireless internet access. If you are serving on a trial, cellular telephones are not permitted during the deliberation process.

You must present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, when entering the courthouse. You and your belongings are subject to search. It is very important that jury selections begin promptly, so please allow plenty of time to travel to the courthouse and pass through security.
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What type of cases will jurors decide in federal court?
Jurors may be called to serve on both civil and criminal trials. Examples of civil cases are contract disputes, civil rights violations, etc. Criminal trials involve a party or parties who are alleged to have violated a federal law and who have been indicted by a grand jury.
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Federal jurors are paid $40.00 per day as an attendance fee and receive payment for round-trip mileage from their home to the courthouse address each day they serve. Mileage is calculated by zip code at the current federal government rate for mile reimbursement. Parking and toll expenses are reimbursed in full.
If you take public transportation, you will be reimbursed, however reimbursement for a taxi cab is not allowed.
United States government employees will not receive an attendance fee for jury service (U.S. Postal Service employees will receive an attendance fee).
A subsistence fee will be paid to jurors who live fifty (50) miles or more from the courthouse if it is necessary to spend the night in a hotel. You must contact the jury clerk for your division to obtain prior approval to use overnight accommodations at government expense.

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Can I be fired from my job for serving on a jury?
No, Federal law protects all permanent employees who serve on juries. 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 office.
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Does my employer have to pay me while I serve?
No, but most private employers do pay employees during their jury service. Some pay employees in full, while others deduct your $40.00 daily juror pay from your regular wages.
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Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender?
Federal law requires a prospective juror to indicate his/her race to help ensure that discrimination does not occur during the juror selection. Race and gender have no bearing in determining your eligibility to serve as a juror.
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I received a questionnaire for a deceased person or a person who is no longer a resident of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, what should I do?
If you receive a summons and a questionnaire for a deceased person or a person who is no longer a resident of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, please make a notation in the "Remark Section" on the questionnaire and return to the court in the postage free envelope.
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What about emergencies?
It is important that jurors promptly report to the courthouse when they are required. Absences may delay or even jeopardize trials. Jurors faced with an emergency such as a sudden illness or death in the family, should follow the instructions that they were given by the Court. If they are unable to do so, they should telephone the jury staff in the divisions where their jury service is to take place.
In addition, if there is an emergency and someone needs to contact you during your service, they may call the jury staff in the division where your jury service is to take place and a message will be delivered to you promptly. Please have them specify that you are on jury duty.

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What happens if I don’t appear?
Jury service is both an obligation and a privilege. Your fellow citizens need your assistance. Most individuals who have served on a jury find it to be an informative and rewarding experience.
Federal law provides that persons who fail to appear as directed for jury service shall be ordered to appear in court and show cause for failure to comply with the summons. Any person who fails to appear pursuant to such order or who fails to show good cause for noncompliance with the summons may be fined up to $1,000.00, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.

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How do I get to the courthouse and where do I park?
For directions and parking information, please select the desired courthouse location from the options at the top left of this page.

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