Hasner Law | Personal Injury | October 28, 2022
Both the US Constitution and Georgia Constitution grant criminal and civil litigants the right to a jury trial. In a jury trial, a panel of jurors makes decisions or findings of fact based on the evidence in the case presented before them.
Jury trials are reliant on jurors to show up to ensure that trials proceed as required by law. The article below discusses the jury process and whether it is possible to get out of jury duty.
Before you receive your summons, your eligibility will first be determined. To be eligible for jury duty, you will have to meet all of the following criteria:
- You are a U.S. citizen
- You are at least 18 years old
- You are fluent in English to the extent needed to understand and discuss the case
- You are a resident of the county from which you received your summons
- You have not served for jury duty in the last 12 months
- You are not currently part of a grand jury or other trial’s jury
- You are not under a conservatorship
- You have had your civil rights restored if you were convicted of a felony or malfeasance while you held public office.
After you are determined to be eligible, the next step in the jury selection process is that you will receive a jury summons. The summons will include information about when and where you will have to appear for jury duty. When you appear, you will present your summons to verify that you appeared as provided by the instructions. You may have to fill out additional paperwork upon your arrival.
Jurors will be excused from duty if it is deemed that they cannot serve. Jurors can be excused for a number of reasons, the main underlying reason is because they are impartial in the evaluation of the case. If there are any relationships between jurors either personal or professional, the juror will be excused.
Voir dire is the process used by the parties to ensure selection of an impartial jury. During this phase, the jurors answer questions posed by counsel for both parties. These questions are to ensure that none of the jurors hold potential biases which may prevent them from making impartial decisions in the verdict of the case.
What Are the Consequences for Failing to Appear for Jury Duty?
Through any of the pre-trial screening phases, you may be sent home and excused from jury duty. In essence, your jury duty may only require your response to the summons and not your actual service on a jury.
The consequences of failing to appear, even if you would have been sent home, can be harsh. Judges are permitted to punish disobedience in court and failing to appear for your summons could result in a judge holding you in contempt of court. If this happens, the judge will order you to appear in court under a “show cause” order. Under this order, you will have to present evidence to explain why the judge should not hold you in contempt.
If the judge finds that you should be held in contempt, you may be punished “by fines not exceeding $1,000.00, by imprisonment not exceeding 20 days, or both.” This is stated by O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8.
Excusal from Jury Duty
If you have a valid reason, you can submit an affidavit to the clerk of courts requesting an excusal from jury duty before your summons date under the following grounds:
- You are a public health or safety worker
- You possess a permanent mental or physical disability
- You are a full time university or vocational school student
- You are the primary caregiver for a child six years old or younger
- You are a primary teacher in a home study program
- You are an unpaid caregiver for a person or people with physical or mental limitations who cannot be left unattended
- You are 70 years of age or older
- You are a service member or spouse of a service member
These grounds do not hinge on whether you will be an impartial juror for the case at hand.
An Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Do you have further questions about jury duty in Atlanta, or are you in search of a personal injury attorney? Reach out to Hasner Law, PC, today for trusted legal advice and assistance.
Contact the Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
We serve in Fulton County, Chatham County, and its surrounding areas: