How was I chosen for Jury Service?
In May of each year the Supreme Court of Virginia, Office of Management Information Systems, sends out Jury Questionnaires to numerous perspective jurors in the County of Warren. This list is generated from Voter Registration and DMV Records of Citizens who reside in the County of Warren. These questionnaires are returned to the Circuit Court Clerk for the County of Warren.
On July 1 of each year, three (3) Jury Commissioners who are appointed by the presiding Judge of the Circuit Court review the returned questionnaires. The presiding Judge decides the number of potential jurors to choose from for the year, this number is 2,500 at the present time. The Jury Commissioners must return the list of potential jurors to the Clerk of the Circuit Court by November 1 each year.
Each year 80 Grand Jurors are selected for service using the same system as discussed above.
Men and women over the age of 18 years and from all walks of life have an equal opportunity to be called for jury service.
Do I have to respond to the summons to jury service?
Yes! The summons to jury service is an official court summons. If you do not respond, you could be held in contempt of court. ***You will NEVER be asked to submit payment, in any form, ESPECIALLY GIFT CARDS, by a law enforcement officer. ONLY A JUDGE CAN FIND YOU IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND ORDER ANY SANCTION.*** Should you have any questions, please contact local enforcement or the Clerk's Office at 540-635-2435 for assistance.
What if I can’t perform jury service right now?
Your term of jury service might disturb your regular pattern of work and other activities. If this disruption causes you genuine hardship and not just inconvenience, it may be possible for you to defer your service to another time. However, this is done only in cases of genuine hardship or need. The judge decides whether your jury service can be deferred. If you feel that you cannot perform your jury service, call the number listed on your summons to discuss your situation.
You will not be excused because jury service is inconvenient or because you have a busy schedule, but you may be excused for reasons such as physical ailment. If you have special conflicts on particular days during the term, the court may excuse you on those days.
What about my Job?
Your employer can not fine, demote or otherwise penalize you for missing work while performing jury service. Many employers will continue to pay your salary while you are in jury service. Contact your employer to find out what the policy is at your job.
Will I be reimbursed for serving on a jury?
You will be reimbursed $30 per day for attendance for each day you must report to the courthouse. The Virginia General Assembly sets this amount.
How long will I be in jury service?
Jurors serve one term of court. Depending on where you live, your term may be up to four (4) months. Your summons will indicate the length and exact dates of the term you will serve.
What if an unexpected emergency keeps me from coming to the courthouse while I’m on a jury?
It is very important that all jurors report each day they are told to report and that they be on time. Your absence may delay a trial. If you have an emergency (such as sudden illness or death in the family), call the number on your summons immediately.
How will I know what to expect and what to do during my jury service?
You will go through an orientation program the first time you are required to report for jury duty. The orientation will inform you of the procedures for checking in on days you must report to the courthouse, how to find out when to report, what the court’s hours are, and what to do if you have an emergency during jury service. Additionally, you will learn about your role as a juror and what you should and should not do while in the courthouse or serving on jury duty.
I have heard that sometimes jurors are not allowed to go home until after the trial is over. Will this happen to me?
Usually jurors go home at the end of each day and return the next morning. However, in extremely rare cases, a jury will be “sequestered” during the trial or during the jury deliberations. Sequestered means that instead of going home at the end of the day, jurors stay in hotels, where their access to other people, radio news, television news, and newspapers is limited. This is done to keep them from accidentally hearing something about the trial that was not told in court or from being influenced by news reports. This is important because juries must reach their decisions based only on what they’ve heard during the trial. In almost all Virginia jury trials, however, the jury goes home at the end of each day and is simply told by the judge not to discuss the case with anyone, nor to watch, read or listen to news reports about the case. It is essential that you follow these instructions.
Is there anything I can do to make my jury service more comfortable, convenient and enjoyable?
Certainly! While efforts are made to reduce delay and avoid waiting time, you may have to wait a while at the courthouse before you find out whether you have been chosen to actually sit on a jury (the reasons why are explained in the next section). So bring a book, or some other quiet activity, or get to know your fellow jurors. Remember that as a juror, you are a vital part of the court system. Part of the job of many court employees, such as the bailiffs and the clerks, is to help make your jury service comfortable and convenient. Do not be afraid to ask them for help.
Selecting Juries for Trial
Is it possible that I might report for jury service but not sit on a jury?
Yes. The parties involved in a case generally seek to settle their differences and avoid the expense and time of a trial. Sometimes the case is settled just a few moments before the trial begins. So even though several trials are scheduled for a certain day, the court does not know until that morning how many will actually go to trial. But your time spent waiting is not wasted — your very presence in the court encourages settlement.
How are jurors chosen to sit on a jury in a civil case?
When a trial is ready to begin, the bailiff calls potential jurors into the courtroom. If damages of less than $15,000 are claimed in the case, 11 jurors will be called. If damages of more than $15,000 are claimed, 13 jurors will be called. The clerk or bailiff asks potential jurors to stand, hold up their right hand, and swear or affirm that they will truthfully answer the questions about to be asked of them. The judge will then tell you the names of the parties and their attorneys and briefly explain the nature of the case. The judge will ask if you are related to anyone involved in the case, have any financial or other interest in the outcome of the case, have formed or expressed an opinion or have any personal bias or prejudice that might affect how you decide the case. If you do not think you can make a fair and impartial decision for any reason, you should tell the judge at this time.
The attorneys for each side might also ask you some questions. If the judge concludes that you may not be able to make a fair decision, you will be asked to step down, and another prospective juror will be brought in to replace you. After the judge decides that all potential jurors are qualified to fairly and impartially hear the case, the clerk will compile a list of jurors and give it to the attorneys. Each side will remove three names from the list. They do not have to give a reason for removing these names. If the amount claimed is under $15,000, the final jury will have five (5) members. If the claim is more than $15,000, the jury will have seven (7) members. The remaining jurors then swear or affirm that they will hear the case and give a verdict they believe to be true. The trial is ready to begin.
Why are some jurors removed from the list?
Allowing both sides to participate in selecting the jury gives the parties the opportunity to feel that the jury will be fair and impartial when it decides the case. Being excused from a jury in no way reflects on your character or your competence as a juror, so you should not feel offended or embarrassed if your name is removed.
How are juries chosen in a criminal case?
The procedure for criminal cases is very similar to the procedure for civil cases. However, 20 prospective jurors are called for a felony trial, and the final jury will have 12 members. For a misdemeanor case, the final jury will have seven members. (The difference between felony and a misdemeanor case is described in the next section.)
What are alternate jurors?
Sometimes, when the judge believes that a case is likely to last more than a day or two, additional jurors will be chosen from those summoned for jury duty, questioned and challenged like other prospective jurors. The additional jurors are chosen to avoid having to retry the case should one or more jurors be excused from the jury during the trial for an emergency (such as illness), leaving too few jurors to decide the case. Throughout the trial, all jurors will sit together, paying careful attention to all the evidence. After closing argument and before the jury retires to the jury room to decide the case, the judge will excuse from further jury duty enough jurors to reduce the number of jurors to the statutory number needed to decide the case.