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What to Prepare for When Called for Jury Duty

— October 14, 2020

The entire process can take a few days, so be prepared and look at it as a learning experience and you’ll be fine!

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a jury summons in the mail, you probably remember the feelings of annoyance, disbelief and dread of having to be on a jury. This doesn’t necessarily occur because of being on the jury itself, but rather the inconvenience of having to move around your work schedule, vacations or anything else you currently had planned for that time. There is also the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how long it will last – especially if you get called to serve on a jury for a trial. Once you get past the initial shock of knowing you’ll have to rearrange your life a bit, there are also some great opportunities afforded to you by being called on a jury. It’s a chance for you to perform your civic duty and learn more about the court and legal systems. When it comes to jury duty, it can be both tedious as well as exciting.

How Do You Prepare?

While there are lots of logistical things you need to do to prepare for jury duty as far as letting your employer know and moving around your schedule, there is also a lot you can do mentally to get yourself in the right headspace to make sure you can analyze the information presented and make the best decision as a part of the jury. This mental preparation can come in the form of additional study on legal subjects and how democracy works as well as in meditation, yoga and taking part in the thrive experience to help change your mindset and clear any outside noise.

Another major thing you can do to prepare is to be better informed on how the jury process works. If you can accurately plan for the different things you’ll be doing as a part of the jury, you can make sure there aren’t any big surprises.

How Does Jury Duty Work?

The very first step is one we’ve already covered – that of receiving your mail summons to be a part of a jury. In that summons, it will tell you what courthouse you’ll need to show up to and on what day. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are summoned, you are required to appear. In certain instances you can ask to have your jury duty service be postponed to a later date, but you’ll still have to serve at some point even if that’s allowed. Instead of thinking, “how can I get out of this?”, try to change it to “how can I make the most of this?”.

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The next step is when you actually arrive at the courthouse for the first time. Once there, you’ll be directed to a jury assembly room where other potential jurors will be congregating. While there, you’ll be given an orientation of sorts where you’ll have some things explained to you about what to possibly expect, or even watch a small video that talks specifically about jury selection and the process they use to do that.

Third, the jurors in the assembly room will be asked to go into different courtrooms at different times. You’ll usually go into a courtroom with other potential jurors once your name is called. In some cases, your name won’t be called the first day you’ve been asked to go into the courtroom. In that instance, you’ll likely have to come back the next day until your name is called.

Fourth, if your name does get called and you do enter the courtroom with other jurors, the judge will lay out for everyone the basic facts of the case and also introduce the legal teams from both sides and anyone else involved in the case. This is where you’ll first find out if it’s a civil or criminal case and the background of what’s being determined.

Next, you’ll be asked if there’s anything that would prevent you from serving and ask you to explain if this is the case. You’ll also be questioned on biases by the attorneys and finally the judge and lawyers will select 12 jurors to serve.

The entire process can take a few days, so be prepared and look at it as a learning experience and you’ll be fine!

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