Serving as a juror is an essential part of American citizenship. The sixth amendment of the United States Constitution grants every individual accused of a crime the right to an impartial jury, but did you know that you may also be called to serve as a juror in a civil trial as well? If you have never been selected for jury duty in the state of Georgia, there are several things to expect during the process.
You may have received a letter in the mail calling you to perform your civic duty to sit as a juror, however not everyone is eligible. Here are some of the criteria you must fit in order to serve on a jury in Georgia:
- Be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, and have some proficiency in English.
- Not currently serving on a jury, or within the last 12 months.
- Not in a conservatorship.
If you are eligible, the jury summons letter will outline the location, date, and time you are required to appear for service. There may be some additional expectations prior to the summons that you must complete. Contact the courthouse if you are unsure of exactly what to do.
In some cases, you may be exempt from serving, but it’s essential that you file any necessary paperwork and establish an exemption or deferral prior to the court date. Failure to appear after a summons may force the judge to hold you in contempt of the court. You will have to appear before a judge to explain your absence and depending on your answer, you may be issued a hefty fine, community service, or even jail time. If you absolutely cannot attend a court date, it is your responsibility to communicate with the court.
The Selection Phase
On the day of jury selection, you must appear in court with your summons letter and have completed any prerequisites. The court and lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant will interview you to determine if you are able to be an impartial juror for the trial. Answer their questions honestly. There are no tricks to “getting out” of jury duty. If you are not selected to be on the jury for any reason, you are free to leave and you are no longer obligated to attend the trial.
The Trial Phase
If you are selected for jury duty, you will be given the court date and you are required to appear at the date and time given. The length of each trial may vary due to a variety of circumstances. If you are employed, your employer is required to make concessions for your schedule as a juror. Unfortunately, this time off may be unpaid. Everyone is entitled to a daily fee for their time spent in court. The payment is usually between $5-$50 a day and it is not designed to replace your regular wages.
Each courthouse and judge may have different rules to follow, including break times, whether or not masks are mandatory, and where the jury will be seated. You will be given explicit instructions, so be sure to follow them to the best of your ability. Once both parties have made their closing arguments, it’s time for deliberation. In civil cases, the majority of jurors have to agree in order to deliver a verdict.
If you are considering taking legal action after being injured due to someone else’s negligence, you need a lawyer with experience and dedication. Attorney Robin Frazer Clark is a personal injury lawyer who has years of experience representing clients both in and outside of the courtroom. To learn more, call 404.873.3700 today to schedule a free consultation about your legal options.