January 8, 2020 | Criminal Law
If you’re received a jury duty notification letter from the Jefferson County Judicial Center (JCJC), that’s definitely a date you want to keep. If you have thoughts about blowing it off, don’t.
By sending you the notification, the court expects you to show up. If you do not, you could be looking at fines, jail time, or a contempt of court charge.
How Was I Chosen for Jury Duty?
Kentucky used to follow a procedure that required all jury members to be citizens who have voted. That changed in 1990, though. Today, if you have a Kentucky driver’s license and are a taxpayer, you may be eligible for jury duty.
Other qualifications include:
- Being a U.S. citizen of at least 18 years of age
- Maintaining a residence in the summoning county (that would be Jefferson County if you live in Louisville)
- Understanding the English language
- No previous record of conviction of a felony, and
- Not currently facing indictment.
Each year, Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Courts updates its county-by-county master list of those eligible to serve on a jury. Throughout the year as court dockets fill up, officials with the JCJC randomly select eligible jury participants.
An initial letter of notification is to those selected potential jurors. If you do not respond, you’ll receive a follow-up letter.
What’s The Penalty for Not Showing Up for Jury Duty?
If you do not have a valid excuse for failing to appear for jury duty, you could be facing a warrant for contempt of court charges, up to six months in jail, and up to $500 fines.
Are There Valid Excuses for Missing Jury Duty?
The courts realize that everyone has their own lives and concerns. Although jury duty is a form of civic duty that should be taken seriously, there are some specific permissible excuses for reporting.
For example, if you’re not able to report for jury duty because of a medical condition, you should have either a doctor’s note or personal letter to present to the judge.
Even if you do not have an excuse but feel that missing work or serving on a jury would lead to you experiencing a hardship, you can submit a letter to the JCJC explain your situation. There’s no guarantee your request will be accepted, but it’s definitely worth a chance.
What If I Cannot Get Time Off From Work for Jury Duty?
While Kentucky employers must provide you with the time off for jury duty, they do not have to pay you for your time away.
Still, the state of Kentucky will reimburse you at a rate of $12.50 per day for your time.
Can I Postpone Jury Duty?
Yes. If you can show that serving as a juror right now would create a hardship for you, it can be postponed for up to 12 months.
Does Being Summoned Mean I Will Actually Serve on a Jury?
No, your summons merely means you will be considered to serve on the jury.
Here’s how the jury selection process works:
- The judge randomly selects names from the eligible pool of candidates for jury service.
- Both the prosecutor and defense attorneys will have the right to ask questions of each selected person to gauge their ability to serve as an impartial juror.
This process will continue until enough jurors are in place for the trial to begin.
Can I Be Removed From the Jury?
Yes. If it’s determined that you cannot be an impartial juror or you’re related to any of the parties involved in the case.
How Long Am I Required to Serve?
Although it’s ultimately up to the discretion of the judge, you’ll be expected to be available for 30 court days. Consider, though, that not all court cases are the same. Once the jury is seated, you’ll be expected to stay for its duration.
What Types of Juries Are There?
A grand jury’s job is to decide whether or not someone should be charged for a felony.
A petit or trial jury, on the other hand, determines a person’s guilt or innocence after listening to evidence and arguments presented by the prosecutor and defense attorney.
The Key Takeaway
Although it may seem inconvenient, jury duty is an important civic responsibility vital to ensuring a fair hearing in court.
If you have received a jury duty notification letter from the JCJC but are unable to take part, don’t ignore it. Instead, be sure to send a letter of response as soon as you can to explain your situation.