Reporting for Jury Service
What to Expect on the First Day
After 5:30 p.m. on the evening before you are scheduled to report for jury selection or to report for a trial, you should do one of the following:
- Call the Juror Information phone line at (850) 577-4204.
- Visit the Juror E-Response system. You will need your candidate ID #, located above your reporting date on the juror check-in form at the bottom of your summons.
Remember, trials may be continued or canceled, and your service may not be needed. Jurors that are scheduled to report for service at 12:15 PM must check the Juror Information phone line at (850) 577-4204 between 10:00 AM and 10:30AM the day of service to see if you are still scheduled to report.
The first day of service is normally limited to jury selection. On occasion, jury selection will be made and the judge immediately will begin the trial. Generally, if selected for a trial, jurors will be released and told when to report back for trial and how many days the trial will last. If not selected, the first day of service will be the only service required.
It is very common for a judge to have multiple trials in a week and to be involved in selecting multiple juries. Generally, the juries are selected one at a time. If not called for the initial jury selection, jurors will remain in the jury assembly room until called. This wait can be significant and jurors are encouraged to bring something to read while waiting. A limited number of Internet connections are available for those citizens who bring a laptop with them.
Those citizens remaining through the lunch hour will be given a lunch break. Judges will look for a convenient break in the proceedings and therefore the time for lunch may vary. Generally, the break is sometime between noon and 1 p.m. and will last 30 minutes to an hour. Lunch is not provided. Those summoned to appear in the morning should bring a snack or sack lunch. Jurors summoned to appear in the afternoon should eat lunch prior to reporting. Jurors are strongly encouraged not to move their vehicles during lunch. Parking in the downtown area is limited and finding parking spaces upon returning from lunch can be a problem.
Depending upon the number of trials and the complexity of the cases, the jury selection process can last all day. Judges are well aware that citizens have other responsibilities and make every effort to conclude before the end of the normal business day.
The dress code of the court is general business attire. Casual attire is acceptable, but tank tops, shorts, and flip flops are not.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Free parking is provided at the Leon County Public Library lot, located to the west of the library, directly across from the library's delivery bay doors.
You may pay $7 per day for parking in the Kleman Plaza parking lot, 306 S. Duval St., or Republic Parking, 215 S. Calhoun St.
Please be aware that our office cannot reimburse you for parking expenses.
Examination of Jurors
If you are a person with a disability who needs an accommodation to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the Jury Coordination Office, 301 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301, (850) 577-4240, within two (2) working days of your receipt of your jury summons; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711, via the Florida Relay Service.
Types of Juries
When jurors are called to a panel for a particular case, the judge and the attorneys will ask questions regarding jurors' backgrounds. This process is called "voir dire," which means "to speak the truth." These questions are not meant to embarrass. Instead, they are designed to ensure that members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences that might prevent them from making an impartial decision. Excusals from jury service should not be taken personally. When jurors are excused, it means only that there are proper and lawful reasons for the excusals.
Types of Trials
A petit jury will hear and decide civil and criminal cases. Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies, or other organizations. Usually, the party who brings the suit is seeking money damages for an alleged wrong that has been done. The party who brings the suit is called the plaintiff, and the one being sued is called the defendant. Civil trials can involve small claims, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases.
Criminal cases are brought by the state against persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the state is the plaintiff, and the accused person is the defendant. Criminal trials can involve traffic, misdemeanor, felony, and capital (death penalty) cases.
A grand jury has broad powers to investigate a wide range of criminal offenses and to examine the performance of public officials and public institutions. Its deliberations are conducted in secret, in conjunction with the State Attorney or a designated assistant state attorney.
Important Things to Remember During the Trial
In a civil trial, after the jury has been sworn in, the plaintiff's lawyer outlines the nature of the case and the evidence that will be offered to support the plaintiff's case. This is called an "opening statement." It is not intended to be an argument and is not evidence. The defense lawyer may make an opening statement for the defendant, or the lawyer may wait until the plaintiff's case has been completed.
The first evidence is received from witnesses for the plaintiff who are called to the witness stand and sworn to tell the truth before giving their testimony. As a rule, every witness is examined by the lawyer for one side and may be cross-examined by the lawyer for the other side (or questioned by the judge) as the trial progresses, in an effort to determine just exactly what the truth is.
After the plaintiff has put in evidence, the lawyer for the defendant may make an opening statement. The defense attorney may call witnesses for the defendant, who are subject to examination and cross-examination. The plaintiff's lawyer may put witnesses on the stand in rebuttal, or reply, and they are likewise subject to examination and cross-examination.
When all of the evidence is in, the lawyer for the plaintiff usually makes a "closing argument" intended to help the jury analyze the evidence. The argument is also an attempt to convince the jury that based upon the evidence presented, the plaintiff is entitled to win. The lawyer for the defendant makes an argument for the defendant for the same purpose. Finally, the lawyer for the plaintiff makes a concluding argument in reply. After these arguments have been made, the judge instructs the jury on the law.
During the trial, the judge decides all disputes about the law and the rules for trying the case. The judge may rule upon many questions that are submitted by the attorneys and may hear arguments of counsel in the absence of the jury. The rulings of the judge involve questions of law, not fact, and must not be questioned by the jury as to their correctness for or against either side. The judge decides such questions as the law requires. A ruling does not indicate that the judge is taking sides. In effect, the judge is merely saying: "The law does not permit that question to be asked," or "That question is permissible under the law."
At the close of the trial, the judge will instruct the jury on the law and tell the jury the principal questions it must decide. When the case is turned over to the jury, the power and responsibility moves from the bench to the jury room, where the jury will consider the evidence and the instructions given by the court.
Throughout the course of the trial, jurors are permitted to separate when the court is not in session. Only in rare instances are jurors "sequestered" or kept together to prevent outside influence.
The procedure in a criminal trial is basically the same. The prosecutor begins the case by outlining the evidence against the defendant. In a criminal case, the state accuses an individual or corporation with violation of a law. After the prosecutor and the defense attorneys present all of the evidence to the jury and make their closing arguments and the judge instructs on the law, the case is ready for the jury's consideration. If there is a conviction, the judge determines the appropriate treatment or punishment.
Payment for Jury Service
Jurors should observe the following general rules of conduct:
- Be on time for court. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
- Sit in the same seat in the jury box. This allows the clerk, judge, and lawyers to identify jurors easily.
- Listen carefully. It is important that jurors hear every question asked and every answer given since the verdict will be based on the evidence given. If a juror does not understand any portion of the trial, he or she should ask the judge to explain.
- Do not talk about the case. Jurors should not talk with anyone about the case. This includes the clerk, lawyers, judge, bailiff, and other jurors, unless the jury has retired to the jury room for deliberations. If anyone tries to talk to a juror about the case or attempts to influence a juror, it should be reported to the judge immediately.
If you will receive regular pay from your employer during jury service, you are not entitled to compensation for the first three days of jury service. If you will not receive regular pay, you are entitled to receive $15.00 per day for the first three days of service. All jurors will receive $30.00 on the fourth day and each day thereafter. If you are excused from service by your own request, you are not entitled to compensation. To insure proper payment, the Juror Check-In Form included with your jury summons must be completed before reporting on the scheduled date, and must be turned in to the Jury Coordination Office when you report.
Click here for an informative video about jury service in Florida. Also, the Florida Bar has prepared a 'Handbook for Jurors', which may be accessed by clicking here.
Qualification as a Juror
You must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years of age, a resident of the State of Florida and Leon County, and possess a driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you do not possess a driver's license, you may complete an affidavit, which may be obtained by calling the Jury Coordination Office at (850) 577-4240.
Excusals, Exemptions & Disqualifications
Names are randomly selected from the list of names supplied annually by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
You may be excused for the following reasons:
- You were summoned and reported as a prospective juror in any court in your county of residence, within 1 year before the 1st day for which you were considered for jury service (exemption for 1 year from the last day of service).
- You are an expectant mother or a parent who is not employed full-time and have custody of a child under the age of 6.
- You are 70 years of age or older.
- You are a fulltime federal, state, or local law enforcement officer or investigative personnel for these entities.
- You care for persons who, because of mental illness or retardation, senility, or physical or mental incapacity, are incapable of caring for themselves.
- You are a practicing attorney or physician, or have a physical infirmity.
- If you have vacation, business or other plans scheduled for the date of your summons, you may request a deferral to another date. You will most likely be denied a request to be excused based on travel or scheduling conflicts.
be excused for the following reasons:
- You are currently under prosecution for any crime.
- You are a convicted felon and have not had your civil rights restored.
- You serve as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, a Cabinet officer, clerk of court, or judge.
Visit the Juror E-Response system
to request an excusal, exemption or disqualification. You will need your candidate ID#, located above your reporting date on the juror check-in form at the bottom of your summons. Or you may complete and mail in the Juror Excusal and Deferral form that was included in your jury summons.
If you need additional information, or have an emergency situation that will prevent you from jury service, contact the Jury Coordinator's Office at (850) 577-4240. To read Florida Statutes concerning excusals, exemptions, and disqualifications, click here
Your first request for a deferral will automatically granted, provided your request is received at least 7 days prior to your service date. Please make sure that the date you select for your new report date does not conflict with your schedule. Any subsequent deferral requests will be reviewed by a judge, and you will be notified whether your request is granted.
Visit the Juror E-Response system to request a deferral. You will need your candidate ID#, located above your reporting date on the juror check-in form at the bottom of your summons. Or you may complete and mail in the Juror Excusal and Deferral form that was included in your jury summons. If you need additional information, or have an emergency situation that will prevent you from jury service, contact the Jury Coordinator's Office at (850) 577-4240.