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 Jury Service - Frequently Asked Questions


General Jury Service
  • What is a petit jury?
  • What is a grand jury?
  • What does “on call” mean?
  • Why was I summoned for jury duty?
  • How can my family reach me in an emergency?
  • What if I have additional questions?
  • Exempt, Excused, or Deferred Jury Service

  • How can I request to be excused from jury duty?
  • May I be excused if I am a full-time student?
  • Can my jury service be postponed to another month?
  • May I be excused for a portion of the jury term because I have a prior commitment?
  • Juror Qualification Questionnaire

  • What is my juror participant number?
  • What if the person to whom the questionnaire is directed is disabled or deceased?
  • Why should I return my questionnaire within 10 days?
  • What if my address has changed?
  • Reporting for Jury Service

  • How do I find out whether I should report for jury duty?
  • What should I bring with me to the courthouse?
  • What shouldn’t I bring with me to the courthouse?
  • What should I wear for jury duty?
  • Where should I park my car?
  • How long will I be there the first day?
  • What if I am late?
  • What happens if I don't report for jury duty?
  • What if I live a long distance from the courthouse?
  • What if bad weather is predicted?
  • Serving as a Juror

  • Will I serve on a civil or criminal case?
  • How long must I serve?
  • Does the court provide meals?
  • Can I leave the Jury Assembly Room or Courtroom?
  • How are people chosen to be on a jury for a specific trial?
  • Will I be asked to report for jury selection more than once during my term of service?
  • Payment and Employer Information

  • What will I be paid for jury duty?
  • Can my employer fire me for serving as a juror?
  • What if my employer wants proof that I was serving on jury duty?

  • General Jury Service

    What is a petit jury?

    A petit jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial and returns a verdict. A verdict in a civil case may be a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil dispute. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant guilty or not guilty of a crime. A petit jury is generally composed of 6 to 12 citizens.

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    What is a grand jury?

    A grand jury does not decide civil disputes or determine guilt or innocence. Instead, a grand jury decides whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. It is generally composed of 23 citizens. Grand jurors serve for 12 months, convening one time each month.

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    What does “on call” mean?

    “On call” means that prospective jurors will not be asked to report to the courthouse unless their names are randomly selected to serve. However, jurors are expected to be available throughout the term of their service and to report when the court calls them.

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    Why was I summoned for jury duty?

    Your name was randomly selected from the list of registered voters or the driver’s license list in the county where you live. Jurors are drawn from 38 neighboring counties which comprise the Southern District of Illinois.

    Jurors in the Benton division are selected from Effingham, Cumberland, Clark, Crawford, Jasper, Clay, Richland, Lawrence, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Jefferson, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Jackson, Williamson, Saline, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Pulaski, and Massac counties.

    Jurors in the East St. Louis division are selected from Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Fayette, Marion, Clinton, Washington, St. Clair, Monroe, and Randolph counties.

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    How can my family reach me in an emergency?

    If your family needs to reach you, they can call (618) 482-9371 in East St. Louis or (618) 439-7760 in Benton

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    What if I have additional questions?

    If you have questions regarding your jury duty, call (618) 482-9148 and leave a message. Please be sure to leave your name, telephone number, the date you are to report and the court location (Benton or East St. Louis), and your participation number.

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    Exempt, Excused, or Deferred Jury Service

    How can I request to be excused from jury duty?

    Requests for permanent excuse from jury duty are listed in Item 15 of the Juror Qualification Questionnaire. Requests for a temporary excuse during the month for previously planned vacation, work-related training or travel, or other hardship should be included when returning your questionnaire. You may call the number on your summons (1-866-507-5255) for the status of your request. All requests for excuse must be in writing. You may also fax your request to (618) 482-9150.

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    May I be excused if I am a full-time student?

    You may be excused if jury duty will cause you undue hardship or extreme inconvenience. You should submit a schedule of your classes and an expected date of graduation from your advisor. The court will consider each request on a case-by-case basis.

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    Can my jury service be postponed to another month?

    If serving during the month you are called would cause you undue hardship or extreme inconvenience, you can ask to serve during a different month. You must explain the reasons for your request on the juror qualification questionnaire. If you have already submitted your questionnaire, your request must be made in writing and submitted either by accessing eJuror online or by e-mail (jury@ilsd.uscourts.gov), facsimile (618-482-9150) , or U.S. Mail. The court will consider each request on a case-by-case basis

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    May I be excused for a portion of the jury term because I have a prior commitment?

    The court will try to honor a juror’s request for a partial excuse for a doctor’s appointment, scheduled vacation plans, or business obligations. You must explain the reason for your request on your juror qualification questionnaire, giving the date(s) you need to be gone. If you have already submitted your questionnaire, your request must be made in writing and submitted either by accessing eJuror online or by e-mail (jury@ilsd.uscourts.gov), facsimile (618-482-9150), or U.S. Mail. The court will consider each request on a case-by-case basis.

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    Juror Qualification Questionnaire

    What is my juror participant number?

    Your juror participant number is the nine digit number on your summons. It is located next to your name and address. You will be identified by your participant number.

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    What if the person to whom the questionnaire is directed is disabled or deceased?

    You should return the juror qualification questionnaire on that person’s behalf. In the designated area for remarks, write 1) the nature of the person’s disability or the date of his or her death, and 2) your name and relationship to the individual.

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    Why should I return my questionnaire within 10 days?

    We use a one-step process to summon you for jury duty and, at the same time, determine whether you are qualified to serve. Failure to respond may result in a summons to appear before the Court to explain why you have not completed the Juror Qualification Questionnaire. You may also complete and submit your juror qualification questionnaire online with our system known as eJuror.

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    What if my address has changed?

    Indicate your new permanent address on the juror qualification questionnaire. If your new residence is outside the district, you will no longer qualify to be a juror in our court.

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    Reporting for Jury Service

    How do I find out whether I should report for jury duty?

    You must call 1-866-507-5255 after 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the date indicated on the front of your summons. You will continue calling this number each Friday of the month until the end of your service. The recorded message will tell you the date and time you are scheduled to report for jury duty or when you should call the recording again.

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    What should I bring with me to the courthouse?

    A photo ID is required to enter the building. You should also bring your summons when you report for jury duty. Because there can be periods of time when you will not be needed in the courtroom, you may want to bring a book or magazine. If you have special dietary needs, you may bring food or snacks with you.

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    What shouldn’t I bring with me to the courthouse?

    Drinks (including bottled water), cell phones, beepers, cameras, video devices, and any other electronic devices are not allowed in the courthouse.

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    What should I wear for jury duty?

    All jurors should wear appropriate attire for jury duty, such as comfortable casual or business attire. Please bring a sweater or jacket because the courtrooms are often cool.

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    Where should I park my car?

    East St. Louis - Enter the parking lot from Missouri Avenue. A uniformed court security officer will direct you. Please place your juror parking permit in your windshield before entering the lot. Park in one of the green parking spaces.

    Benton - Park in the city parking lot east of the courthouse, behind the Historic Jail Museum. The parking lot is accessible from North Pine Street and North Maple Street.

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    How long will I be there the first day?

    A jury will be picked on the first day you report for jury duty. If you report in the morning and are not chosen as a juror, you could be dismissed by noon or early afternoon. If you are chosen to serve as a juror, you will be finished by approximately 5:00 p.m.

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    What if I am late?

    It is extremely important that you be prompt both in the morning and when you return from lunch. It is particularly important when you are selected to serve on a trial, because the entire proceeding can be delayed because of the tardiness of one juror. If you are delayed due to circumstance beyond your control, call the jury office at (618) 482-9148 or the clerk’s office (618) 482-9371, to report your situation.

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    What happens if I don't report for jury duty?

    Any juror who fails to report for jury duty and who is not excused by the Court may be served with a Show Cause Order by a deputy United States Marshal. The juror will be required to show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt of court. If the juror cannot show good cause for noncompliance, he or she may be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than three days, and/or ordered to perform community service. 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g).

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    What if I live a long distance away from the courthouse?

    If the distance that you travel to the courthouse is more than 60 miles one way, you are authorized to travel the night before, and you will receive a subsistence fee of $161 for each overnight stay in East St. Louis and $123 for each overnight stay in Benton. You should give the hotel receipt to the jury clerk

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    What if bad weather is predicted?

    You should always call the recorded message at 1-866-507-5255 before leaving your home to find out whether the courthouse is open and/or if a judge has cancelled court on a particular date due to weather conditions.

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    Serving as a Juror

    Will I serve on a civil or criminal case?

    This court tries both civil and criminal trials, and you may be called to serve on either.

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    How long must I serve?

    Your term of service will last for one month. You will not report each day. Instead, you will be "on call" and required to call the court to determine whether you must report. A recorded message will instruct you whether you should report and, if so, when. Most trials last one to three days, however, some trials may be longer.

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    Does the court provide meals?

    The court does not provide meals, but you will have time to eat lunch. A snack room with vending machines is also located on the first floor of the courthouse.

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    Can I leave the Jury Assembly Room or Courtroom?

    You should leave the Jury Assembly Room or Courtroom only with permission from the presiding judge or the jury administrator.

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    How are people chosen to be on a jury for a specific trial?

    The judge, the lawyers, or both the judge and the lawyers will ask the jurors who reported for service a series of questions. The questions can cover topics such as the jurors’ background, employment, friends, opinions, and so on. This questioning, which takes place in the courtroom, is called “voir dire.” Based on the answers that the jurors give, some jurors are not chosen or excused, and the other individuals are selected as the jury for that trial.

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    Will I be asked to report for jury selection more than once during my term of service?

    If you report and are not selected as a juror, you could be called to report again. Continue to call the automated jury message system until the court tells you that your service is complete.

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    Payment and Employer Information

    What will I be paid for jury duty?

    A $40.00 attendance fee is paid for each day you are required to report, whether or not you are selected to serve (unless you are a federal employee). Employees of the United States government will not receive an attendance fee. You will be paid mileage at a rate of 50 cents per mile. Your mileage is automatically calculated by your zip code.

    Your check will be mailed within 10 to 20 days. You must keep track of the amount you receive; W-2 forms are not furnished, and tax is not withheld. You do not need to report travel allowances as income. Jurors who receive $600 or more in attendance fees in a calendar year will receive a Form 1099 by January 31 of the following year.

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    Can my employer fire me for serving as a juror?

    Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 1875, you are protected from being discharged, threatened with discharge, intimidated, or coerced by your employer because of your federal jury service.

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    What if my employer wants proof that I was serving on jury duty?

    If you are selected as a juror, you will receive a certificate at the end of your trial. If you are not selected as a juror, you will receive your certificate before you leave the courthouse.

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