Serving on a Jury
Share |

Notice! Court employees will never ask you to disclose confidential personal information such as social security number or credit card number over the telephone.

Jury service is one of the most important duties of citizenship. 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. When you are summoned to jury service, please answer the call to serve. It is your civic duty. It is your chance to participate directly in our democracy. To learn more about Iowa's jury selection process by reading the information below or you may view the latest jury instructional video - A Jury of Our Peers.

How are people called for jury service?

The courts use computers to randomly select prospective jurors from a jury pool source list. The source list is composed of names of citizens who are licensed to drive and registered to vote in Iowa. The list is maintained by the state and annually updated.

If your name is selected as a prospective juror, the court will send you a questionnaire, which is to be completed and returned to the court. Among other things, the questionnaire asks if you meet the state's minimum qualifications for jury service -- a U.S. citizen; at least eighteen years old; able to understand English in written, spoken, or manually signed mode; and able to receive and evaluate information such that the person is able to render satisfactorily juror service

Does jury service take much time?
The juror summons that is mailed to each person called to serve will indicate the general term of jury service. Iowa law provides that a person shall not be required, in any two-year period, to serve a term of more than three months unless to complete service in a particular case; to serve on more than one grand jury; or to serve as both a grand and petit juror.

In 1998, the Iowa Judicial Branch streamlined the process for calling jurors. The new jury management system allows courts to reduce the length of juror service, making it more convenient for citizens. Courts using this procedure are able to release jurors who report for service if the person is not selected for a specific panel after one entire day. Those who are selected are only required to serve on one trial. Please check with the local jury manager about your specific term of service.

May I be excused from jury service?
State law limits the circumstances for which the court may excuse a person from jury duty. A person has the right to be excused from service if the person submits written documentation to the court's satisfaction that

· the person is solely responsible for the daily care of a person with a permanent disability living in the person's home and that performance of jury service would cause substantial risk of injury to the health of the disabled person; or

· the person is breast feeding her child and is not employed outside the home.

Also, the court has discretion to excuse someone from jury service upon a finding of hardship, inconvenience, or public necessity.

If you want to be excused from jury service, you should file a written request with the clerk of court as soon as possible after you receive the summons to serve.

Jury service is an important responsibility. A person who makes a false claim for the purpose of getting excused or helping someone else get excused may be found in contempt of court and could be punished by the court.

What's the difference between a petit jury and a grand jury?
A grand jury is a group of seven citizens convened for the purpose of determining whether there is sufficient evidence for a person who is accused of a crime to be brought to trial—as opposed to the county attorney filing a criminal charge.

The grand jury shall meet at times specified by order of a district court judge, at the request of the county attorney or at the request of the majority of the grand jurors. The county attorney is responsible for presenting evidence to the grand jury. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public.

A petit jury acts as the fact finder when a party in a civil case or a defendant in a criminal case has requested a jury. In criminal trials, 12 jurors sit on the jury; in civil trials, 8 jurors comprise the jury. If a jury has not been requested, the judge acts as the fact finder.

Are jurors paid?
Pursuant to Iowa law, jurors receive $30 a day for serving up to seven days and are entitled to reimbursement for travel to and from the courthouse and for parking expenses. Jurors receive $50 per day for each day that exceeds seven days of service. While employers are not required to pay the salaries of employees on jury duty, many do so in recognition of the importance of jury service.

What if jury service interferes with my job?
Iowa law prohibits an employer from threatening or coercing an employee or terminating the employment of a person due to serving or being called to serve as a juror. An employer who violates the law is subject to contempt of court and is also subject to a lawsuit by the employee.

Juror information may differ from county to county. Please click here to receive juror information from your county.

This text is an informal summary of the law, not the law itself! If you have received a jury summons, the court clerk or jury commission contact specified on the summons is the most reliable source for additional information on your obligation to serve. Be sure to keep the document and follow its instructions. In case of any disagreement between this text and the actual law, the law wins!