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So, You’ve Been Called for Jury Duty

One of the most frequent questions I hear regarding jury service seems to be: “How do you get out of it?” That’s unfortunate, since one of the benefits of living in a free and democratic society is the right to be tried by a jury one’s peers, truly giving meaning to the term, “justice by the people.”

With that in mind, rather than focus on avoiding the situation, let’s answer some questions regarding jury service.

How are jurors chosen in Anne Arundel County?
Jurors are selected at random. In Anne Arundel County, motor vehicle records and voter registrations are used to provide a good cross section of potential jurors (Volunteers are refused, and recommendations not accepted.)

Who is eligible to serve?
A person who is 18 years old, a United States citizen who resides in the county and is able to read, write and understand the English language is eligible to serve.

Are there any exemptions?
You may be exempt from jury duty if you have served as a juror during the past three years, are on active duty I the military, or are 70 years old and request the exemption in writing. (However, you may not be disqualified as a juror on the basis of age.)

How long will I have to serve?
Grand jurors serve for a term of six months, usually meeting every other Friday. Grand juries are bodies that generally decide whether or not to indict someone for a serious criminal offense, and also conduct investigations into possible crimes.

More likely, you may be called for service on a petit jury, to hear and decide both criminal and civil cases. Currently petit jurors in Anne Arundel County serve on-call for two-week periods. After initially reporting, jurors call in beforehand to see if they are assigned for the net day. Of course, if you are chosen to serve on an actual jury, your service will last through the conclusion of the case, even it if extends beyond the two weeks.

Suppose I get sick?
If you get sick, you should immediately contact he court. The jury commissioner will likely require a doctor’s certificate evidencing your inability to serve as a result of your illness.

What about my job?
An employer may not deprive an employee of their job solely because of time lost as a result of responding to a summons or serving as a juror.

Do I get paid?
Jurors receive $15 per day expense money for service.

In conclusion, the next time you are called to jury service, instead of dreading the inconvenience, come to it with a better understanding of what’s involved and take pride in the opportunity to part of an institution that serves at the very foundation of our legal system.

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