September 2016 - The Jury – A Key Component of Our Justice System

Jury Duty

Jury duty – some people find it interesting; others dread it. Regardless of your reaction, you have a civic duty to serve if selected.

On a State level, there are three types of jury service:

  • Petit Jury – Hears criminal and civil cases; if selected for a trial, you must report each day court is in session for the duration of the trial;

  • Grand Jury – Determines if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges; generally meets once a week for a specified number of weeks at the County courthouse;

  • State Grand Jury – Same as a Grand Jury, but meets in Trenton.

The Selection Process
  • The jury selection list is compiled from voter registrations, driver’s license records, personal State income tax returns, and Homestead Rebate applications. To help ensure your name appears on the jury selection list only once, always use your legal name when filling out relevant forms and make sure all information, including address, is correct.

  • A random, computerized selection process is used, which can lead to some people being called for service more frequently than others. You can be excused if you have already served in the same county within the past three years; doesn’t apply if previous service was as a federal juror.

Juror Qualifications
  • Jurors must be State residents, U.S. citizens, and physically and mentally able to carry out the duties of a juror. You cannot have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, an indictable offense. This doesn’t apply to municipal offenses (e.g., traffic violations, shoplifting charges, DWI/DUI, juvenile offenses).

Valid Reasons to Be Excused
  • Age (You must be at least 18; those 75 or older may request to be excused.)

  • Primary caregiver for a minor, or sick or elderly dependent. (Service may be postponed so you can make alternate care arrangements.)

  • Active emergency services volunteer. (Applies to fire, rescue, and first aid squad volunteers; verification required. Also applies to active U.S. Military members.)

  • Compromised ability to support yourself or your family (Supporting documentation required.)

Jurors are a key component of our justice system. The next time you’re called to serve, consider the importance of your role. 
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