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Jury Duty
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The right to trial by jury is one of the most important guarantees of our freedom contained in the U. S. Constitution. However, this right would not mean very much without people who were willing to serve as jurors.

As an adult, you become part of the pool of potential jurors in the state and federal courts in your part of the state. Jury selection is done at random, from lists of registered voters, licensed drivers, utility customers, and so on. The goal is to make available to the courts a fair cross section of the area served by the court, so that any party going to court will receive a fair trial. In recent years, steps have been taken to help ensure that prospective jurors fairly represent the population with regard to racial and ethnic considerations.

Qualifications
To serve on a jury, a person must possess the following minimum qualifications:

  • Be 18 years old or older;
  • Be a U. S. citizen.
  • Be able to understand English in writing, speech, or sign language.
  • Be able to receive and evaluate information so that the person can perform the duties of a juror.

Inability To Serve
Possibly the single question most asked of lawyers about jury duty is "How do I get out of jury duty?" As the term indicates, jury service is a "duty" of an adult citizen, and in spite of the fact that many people dread the thought of serving on a jury, many people end up enjoying their service because of the interesting experiences they have and because it is a chance to see how the court system really works.

Nevertheless, there are some good reasons why a person cannot serve on a jury. The law recognizes the following as valid excuses for not serving:

  • A person is solely responsible for daily care of a permanently disabled person.
  • Jury service would be a hardship, inconvenience, or should be postponed out of public necessity. In these cases, a judge can excuse a prospective juror or postpone jury duty. In deciding whether a person has good reason not to serve, the judge has the duty to exercise this authority strictly. If a person gives a false excuse for not being able to serve, the judge will find that person in contempt of court.

Rights And Reimbursement
Jury service is an adult responsibility. Your boss cannot fire you because of jury duty. As a juror you will receive $10.00 per day plus reimbursement for mileage expenses for going to and from the courthouse to your home.
The opportunity to participate in the justice system is an important responsibility that comes along with being an adult in our country. If you have the opportunity to serve as a juror, you should, if you are able, take advantage of the chance to see how the court system works and to play a part in seeing that justice is done.


The Iowa State Bar Association • 625 East Court Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309
Ph. (515) 243-3179 • Fax (515) 243-2511
Email: isba@iowabar.org