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, those summoned need 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 has a right to a trial by jury. Any party in most civil cases may request 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 during the trial in the courtroom and to decide the outcome of the case based upon the instructions on the law given by the judge and the evidence presented. Your decision must be fair, impartial and free of any bias or prejudice. Jury service is the cornerstone of our judicial system and is essential to the fair administration of justice.
How are jurors selected to go to a courtroom?
A specific number of jurors referred to as a "panel" are randomly selected by computer.
What happens when I go to a courtroom?
After your panel is selected and reports to a courtroom, a process known as voir dire begins. During voir dire, the judge and the attorneys will ask you questions to assure that you have an open mind and can be fair. 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 Assembly Room and may be sent to another courtroom or released from further service.
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 two to three days. It may sometimes last a week or more.
How long will I serve if I am selected to be on the Grand Jury?
If you are selected to serve as a Grand Juror, you will serve two days per month for six months.
What is a Grand Jury?
A Grand Jury is a group of citizens that are selected from a jury pool and sworn by the court. Grand Juries listen to the evidence presented by the State's Attorney and then determine if that person should be charged or prosecuted for a criminal act if there is probable cause to believe that person has committed the offense. Different from a Petit Jury, Grand Juries do not determine guilt or innocence.
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 whether any monetary damages should be awarded by a preponderance of the evidence.
Is jury service mandatory?
Yes, the United States Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution guarantee the right to trial by jury. Failure to respond to a jury summons may subject you to penalties provided by law. Persons receiving a summons are obligated by state law to serve as jurors, provided they are:
- A United States citizen
- A resident of Winnebago County, Illinois
- 18 years of age or older
What is the proper dress attire for jury service?
Jurors should dress appropriately for the courtroom.
What am I allowed to bring to jury service?
Jury service can require waiting a considerable length of time. For this reason, you may want to bring reading material, office work, or a laptop. You may bring a lunch or dine at one of the restaurants in the downtown area. Jurors may NOT bring: camera cell phones, video and audio recorders, cameras, chemical sprays, metal belts, large scissors, knives or work tools.
When can the jurors expect to be released for the day?
Jurors will be dismissed after all court proceedings have been satisfied.
What happens if you fail to appear for jury service?
Failure to appear for jury service when summoned is a serious matter. You may be held in contempt of court and could be fined up to $500.00. It is in your best interest to appear if you are summoned to avoid any further court action.
Are vending machines, public telephones and restroom facilities located in or near the Jury Assembly Room?
Yes. There are vending machines and a public telephone located in the Jury Assembly Room. Restrooms are located just outside the entrance of the Jury Assembly Room. Electronic equipment such as cellular phones, laptops, and pagers may be used in the Jury Assembly Room. All electronic equipment must be turned off prior to entering a courtroom.