Juror Qualifications, Exemptions and Excuses
To be legally qualified for jury service, an individual must:
• be a United States citizen;
• be at least 18 years of age;
• reside primarily in the judicial district for one year;
• be adequately proficient in English;
• have no disqualifying mental or physical condition;
• not currently be subject to felony charges; and
• never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored)
There are three groups that are exempt from federal jury service:
1. members of the armed forces on active duty;
2. members of professional fire and police departments; and
3. "public officers" of federal, state or local governments, who are actively engaged full-time in the performance of public duties.
Persons belonging to these groups may not serve on federal juries, even if they so desire.
Excuses from Jury Service
Many courts offer excuses from service, on individual request, to designated groups of persons or occupational classes. Such groups may include persons over age 70; persons who have, within the past two years, served on a federal jury; and persons who serve as volunteer fire fighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew.
The Jury Act also allows courts to permanently excuse a juror from service at the time he or she is summoned on the grounds of "undue hardship or extreme inconvenience" if the distance to the courthouse makes it difficult for the juror to travel. The juror should write a letter to the clerk of court requesting an excuse with an explanation of hardship.
Excuses for jurors are granted at the discretion of the court and cannot be reviewed or appealed to Congress or any other entity.
The Jury Act allows courts to grant temporary deferrals of service on the grounds of "undue hardship or extreme inconvenience." The juror summons provides specific information on how to request a deferral from the court summoning the juror.
Temporary deferrals for jurors are granted at the discretion of the court and cannot be reviewed or appealed to Congress or any other entity.
Petit (Trial) Jury
Petit Jurors participate in criminal and civil trials and render a verdict after listening to the evidence and arguments by all parties, following a set of instructions given by the presiding judge.
A civil petit jury consists of not less than 6 nor more than 12 jurors.
A criminal petit jury consists of 12 jurors plus alternate jurors.
Fuentes: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts