When you are called to be a juror, you become a very important person in our legal system. In the United States, our justice system is based on the belief that a just and fair result in court comes from having disputes settled by our fellow citizens. Very few of us ever have to go to court as plaintiffs or defendants, but when we do, we want good, honest people to listen to the evidence and decide our cases fairly.
Therefore, when we are called to serve on a jury, we have an obligation to our fellow citizens to honor the summons and appear at court. Some cases are more important than others, but to the parties involved, their case is very important, and they deserve to have it decided by honest and impartial jurors.
How You Were Chosen
Your name was obtained from the Summit County voter registration list, according to guidelines which assure a random selection of a fair cross-section of the community. You will be randomly assigned to a jury pool or pools during the week of your service.
Requirements for being a Juror
To serve on a jury in a particular court, you must be a bona fide resident of the geographical area served by that particular court. Ohio jurors must be at least 18 years of age and they must not have lost their right to serve on a jury by having been convicted of certain types of crime. Beyond that, everyone is given the opportunity to be a juror regardless of age (if at least 18), and regardless of occupation. Only members of cloistered religious orders, those physically unable to serve, those who are necessarily absent from the county, those whose spouse or near relative has recently died or is seriously ill, those who would be harmed or would harm the public by serving as a juror, and those who have served on a jury within the same jury year can be exempted from jury service according to state law.
Different Types of Juries
Most jurors will be selected to serve on a “petit jury,” one that is selected to hear and decide a particular case. If the case is a criminal trial involving a felony (a more serious type of crime), the law requires 12 jurors. In a civil case, only eight jurors are selected. In municipal and county courts, where misdemeanors (a less-serious level of crime) are brought to trial, juries consist of eight persons. If a trial is expected to last more than a day, some judges have alternate jurors selected in case something should happen to one or more of the original jury panel. Unlike the petit jury, a “grand jury” hears evidence about crimes and decides whether or not a person should be “indicted” and tried for committing a crime. Also unlike the petit jury, the grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence. If you are summoned to court to be selected for service on a grand jury, you will probably serve for a longer period of time than if you serve on a petit jury.
Juror Call-In System
The Summit County Courts use a call-in system for the jurors’ convenience. During the week of your jury service, you may call the recorded message each day after 5 p.m. to hear whether you need to report the following day.
The recording will list the group number and color of summons of the jurors who need to report the next day. Your group number appears in the upper left hand corner of your summons. The various colors of summons refer to the different courts in the Summit County system. Please listen to the entire recording to make sure you hear if your group number and color of summons is listed.
The recording will also tell you when and where to report. It is updated each day and available 24 hours. The phone number for the juror call-in system is: 330-643-2286.
What to Wear
Please use good judgment when deciding what to wear to court. Inappropriate attire includes clothes too casual for a business situation, such as shorts or halter tops. Judges will be in robes, sheriffs in uniforms, and lawyers and their clients in business attire. Jurors should likewise be dressed appropriately.
What To Expect When Reporting for Jury Service
Jury Service begins when you dial the Juror Call-In System and listen to the automated recording. If your group number is listed, you will be given instructions on when and where to report for jury duty the next business day.
Please be prompt when you report for your jury service. However, you may wish to bring something to read since trials can be delayed due to last minute actions by the parties involved. In that case, you will remain in the jury room until the judge’s bailiff comes for you and your fellow jurors.
You will be taken to a judge’s courtroom with a pool of jurors. The judge will welcome you and begin the voir dire process of interviewing the jurors with help from the lawyers on the case. During that process, the judge and the lawyers may decide to seat you on the jury or dismiss you from that particular trial.
If you are dismissed, you need to continue calling the recording each night for the remainder of the week through Thursday night. Your jury service is completed on the Friday of the week you were summoned for jury service. If you are seated on a jury for a trial, your obligation will be completed when the trial is completed.
Effective December 1, 2009, payment of juror fees has been suspended due to limited funding in the County’s operating budget.