Why is jury service important?
The United States Constitution guarantees all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin or economic status the right to trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers. In order to uphold this guarantee, we need those summoned to participate in the jury process to ensure every citizen’s right to have their case decided by an impartial jury selected from a representative pool of prospective jurors.
Who is entitled to a jury trial?
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party in a civil case has the right to a trial by jury. All parties are equal before the law and each is given the same fair and impartial treatment.
What are my duties as a juror?
Your duty as a juror is to weigh all of the evidence and testimony presented to you and to decide the outcome of the case based upon the law and the evidence. Your decision must be fair, impartial and free of any bias or prejudice. Jury service is the basis of our judicial system and is essential to the administration of justice.
How are jurors selected for a trial?
After your panel is selected and reports to a courtroom, a process known as voir dire begins. During voir dire, the judge and possibly the attorneys will ask you questions to see if you meet further qualifications to serve as a juror. After you have been questioned, you will either be selected or excused from that particular case. If you are selected, you and the other selected jurors will receive instructions from the judge. If you are not selected, you will return to the jury room and may be sent to another courtroom.
How long does jury service usually last if I am a selected juror?
The length of a jury trial depends on the actual case itself. The average length of a jury trial is three to five days.
What type of trials may I be selected to serve on as a juror?
There are basically two types of jury trials, criminal and civil. In a criminal trial, the jury decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil trial, the jury decides which side should prevail in their dispute based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Is jury service mandatory?
The United States Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury. Failure to respond to a jury summons may subject you to penalties provided by law. All Madison County residents are obligated by state law to serve as a juror unless they are:
- Not a United States citizen
- Not a resident of Madison County, Illinois
- Not 18 years of age or older
What is the proper dress attire for jury service?
Jurors should dress comfortably, but properly for a courtroom.
What should I bring with me to the Courthouse?
You should bring your summons and show it to the deputies as you are entering the Courthouse. You may also want to bring reading materials with you because there may be times you are not needed in a courtroom. Electronic devices, including cell phones, food and drinks are not allowed in the Courthouse. If you are selected to serve as a juror on a trial, you will be allowed to bring in your cell phones, tablets, and similar electronic devices with a few exceptions. No audio or visual recordings or photographs may be made at any time inside the Courthouse without prior approval of the Court. All devices must be turned off while in the Courtroom. You will be required to secure and deposit any cell phones, tablets, or similar electronic devices with the bailiff during jury deliberations.
May someone attend jury service with me?
No. Only those summoned for jury service are allowed in the jury assembly room. You may have someone escort you to and from jury service, but that person is not allowed to enter the jury assembly room. The jury assembly room is for prospective jurors only.
When can the jurors expect to be released for the day?
Jurors will be dismissed after the Court determines there is no further need for jurors on that day. Daily court hearings and trials usually recess by 4:30 p.m.
Failure to appear for jury service when summoned is a serious matter. You may be held in contempt of court and could be fined. It is in your best interest to appear if you are summoned to avoid any further court action.
Are vending machines and restroom facilities located in or near the jury assembly room?
Yes. There are vending machines located near the jury assembly room. There are numerous restrooms around the courthouse.