Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of this section is to provide answers to the many questions and concerns that citizens have about the jury process.
- Why do American citizens have to serve as jurors?
- How often may jurors be summoned?
- Are some people summoned more frequently than other?
- Can jury duty be postponed to a more convenient time?
- Why should jurors report for jury service if they do not want to serve?
- What happens to jurors who do not report as directed?
- What should I do if my employer does not want me to take time off work for jury duty?
- Is my employer required to pay me for jury duty?
- Are public employees paid for jury duty?
- What should I do if I have moved?
- Do I have to complete the questionnaire and return it to the Jury Management Office if I am not a US citizen?
- What should I do if I have a criminal record?
- What should I do if I do not read or understand English?
- What should I do if jury duty causes a server financial hardship for me?
- What should I do if I have a medical condition that prevents me from serving as a juror?
- What should I do if I care for an individual who is seriously ill?
- What should I do if I do not have anybody to care for my child while I am on jury duty?
- Is there an age limit to serve as a juror?
- What should I do if I am a full-time student or a teacher?
- May I be excused due to religious beliefs?
- Where do I park if I drive to the courthouse?
- Will I get reimbursed if I park in a parking lot around the courthouse?
- Are there any items jurors should not bring to court?
- May jurors use their cell phones in court?
- How should jurors dress for jury duty?
The right to trial by jury in the United States dates from Colonial times and is rooted in English history. It is guaranteed by the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America and in Article One of New Jersey's State Constitution. To uphold this right, litigants charged with a crime are entitled to have a trial by a jury of their peers. Individuals who are summoned to serve jury duty help guarantee that this right is enforced. Participating in our judicial system is not only an honor, but is also one of our civic duties.
In New Jersey jurors are eligible to be summoned every three years. For instance, if you served on April 15, 2005 in Hudson County , you should not be summoned by Hudson County until April 16, 2008. If you received another summons sooner than the time period mentioned above, it may be because you appear as a duplicate in the computer database. If this happens to you and you would like to be excused, please write on the lower left corner of your summons that you have served in the last three years and provide the date you served and the name you were using at the time you served. Once this information is verified by the Jury Management Office, you will be excused and the latest summons will be identified as a duplicate. This process will remove the duplicate record from the juror source list and provide you with a letter stating that you were excused.
However, if you served federal jury duty, or jury duty in another state or New Jersey county within the last three years, you are not entitled to be excused under this provision because the statute ( N.J.S.A. 2B: 20-10) requires that your prior service has occurred in the summoning county.
The jury summoning process is performed randomly. Prospective jurors are assigned numbers and the computer system selects them in no particular order. Like any other randomized system, the odds of selecting one number more than others do result in some jurors being summoned more frequently. As mentioned previously, jurors appearing in the system more than once may be excused if it can be proved that they served in Hudson County within three years.
The Jury Management Office summons jurors five weeks in advance of their reporting date in order to provide enough notice for jurors to make all necessary arrangements. However, if the days (remember that you may have to serve for at least two days) for which you are summoned are not convenient for you, you may request a one-time postponement. Note, however, that employers or others may not call or write on behalf of the juror to request a postponement. The request must come directly from the juror. You must make your request as soon as you receive your summons and no later than fifteen (15) days before your reporting date for timely processing. Please provide the exact date that you wish to be postponed on your questionnaire. In general, your postponement will be limited to ninety days (90 days). When deciding on your new reporting date, please keep in mind that jurors are not summoned on any national holiday, during the month of August, the week of Thanksgiving or the last two weeks of the year. In addition, you must request two consecutive days (e.g. Monday-Tuesday, Tuesday- Wednesday, Wednesday-Thursday or Thursday-Friday.) You will be notified by mail if the postponement is granted. If you do not receive a notification, please report as originally directed.
For the jury system to work, citizens must participate in the process. Cases that go to trial need to be resolved by everyday citizens who hear the evidence, determine the facts and render a verdict. It is impossible to get a fair cross-section of the community to participate in the jury system if people do not report for jury service. If you ever found yourself or a loved one involved in a civil or criminal trial, wouldn't you want a jury system that is fair and works?
Jurors who fail to respond or appear for jury duty, without a reasonable excuse, may be punished for contempt of court pursuant to N.J.S 2B: 20-14b and subject to a fine of up to $500.00. Additionally, qualified jurors will have their jury service rescheduled and will be expected to serve at a later date.
Jurors who fail to appear more than once may also be issued a warrant for their arrest.
If you are summoned to be a juror, notify your employer immediately. Your employer is not required to pay you or provide you other benefits while you are on jury duty. However, under the current law, N.J.S. A . 2B: 20.17, he or she is prohibited from penalizing you for serving jury duty. The State of New Jersey provides legal protection for jurors during jury service. If your employer penalizes you, or threatens to penalize you, for serving as a juror, he or she may be charged with a disorderly persons offense. You may also file a civil action for monetary damages and for reinstatement of employment if your employer violates this statute
Whether or not your employer pays you for jury duty depends on your employer's policy regarding jury service. The Jury Management Office has no control over your employer's policy. The State of New Jersey will pay you the juror fee ( see Juror Payment under Petit Jury Service or Grand Jury S ervice). The Jury Management Office is aware that many employers do not pay their employees during jury duty or provide jury duty days. However, this alone is not an adequate reason to be excused from service.
If you are employed by the State of New Jersey you will receive your regular salary while you are on jury duty. However, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2B: 20-16 you will not be eligible to receive the juror fee. This law applies to full-time public employees in the judicial and political subdivisions of all municipalities, as well as employees of any independent authorities or entities of the State of New Jersey . Jurors affected by this policy should notify the Jury Management Office when they report for service. If a check is issued to you in error, you must return it to the Jury Management Office at once.
If you have moved outside of Hudson County , write your new address on the questionnaire in the space provided for that purpose. You will be disqualified and will not have to report. You will not receive any notification.
However, if you moved to another address within the county, in addition to filling out the questionnaire, you will also have to write your new address on the questionnaire in the space provided. We will update our records to reflect your new address. You will have to report as directed in your summons.
Do I have to complete the questionnaire and return it to the Jury Management Office if I am not a US citizen?
Yes. You must fill out the Juror Qualification Form, sign it and mail it back to the Jury Management Office within ten (10) days. You will be disqualified and will not have to report. You will not receive any notification. Being disqualified for this purpose does not mean that you will not be summoned again in the future. Once you become an American citizen, you may have to serve jury duty.
Only individuals who have been convicted or pled guilty to a felony offense are disqualified from jury duty. If this happens to be your situation, please fill out the Juror Qualification Form, and indicate next to question # 4 the criminal charge, the year you were convicted or pled guilty and indicate in which state the incident took place. Return the completed Juror Qualification Form to the Jury Management Office. The Office will verify that the information you provide is accurate. If you qualify, you will receive a letter instructing you to report. On the other hand, if you are disqualified, you will not receive any notification.
Many people who do not have English as their first language fear that they will not be able to understand what is going on in a courtroom. However, the English spoken during a trial is not much different than the English people speak at home, at work and among friends. If you speak English at work, you will most likely qualify to be a juror. However, if you feel that your knowledge of the English language is not sufficient to perform the duties of a juror, you still must fill out the questionnaire and return it to the Jury Management Office. We will make a decision based on the information you provide to us. If your request is denied, you will receive a letter instructing you to report. On the other hand, if you are disqualified, you will not receive any notification.
To be excused for financial reasons, you must prove that serving jury duty will cause a severe financial hardship that will compromise your ability to support yourself or/and your dependents. In order to prove this, you must submit a copy of your household income tax returns and monthly expenses along with your completed questionnaire. These documents will be reviewed by the Jury Management Office to verify that serving jury duty will cause a significant loss in income that will prevent you from paying bills, and supporting yourself and your family. Many requests to be excused for this reason are not granted, but deferring the service date to a more convenient time may accommodate the juror. Whether or not your request is granted, you will receive notification in writing
If you suffer from a medical condition that is unlikely to change within a year, and this condition prevents you from serving jury duty, you must submit a doctor's note indicating that you are unable to perform jury duty. Please fill out the questionnaire, sign it, attach the doctor's note and return it to us as soon as possible for timely processing. The doctor's note must be written on your doctor's letterhead and signed by your doctor. Requests written by jurors to be excused for medical conditions will be denied. Upon receiving your doctor's note, you will be excused and an excuse letter will be mailed to you. You will have to provide the necessary proof of your illness each time that you are summoned to serve.
There are several instances under which this excuse may be requested. They are as follows:
- If you have the personal obligation to care for another who requires your personal care and no alternate care is available without severe financial hardship; or
- If you provide "highly specialized technical health care services" for which replacement cannot be reasonably obtained; or
- If you are a health care worker directly involved in the care of a handicapped person, and your presence is "essential to that person's regular and personal treatment."
To be excused for any of the above reasons, you must submit the proper documentation that indicates your role in the individual's daily care. You will be notified in writing if you have been excused
If you are the only individual who is able to care for your minor child you must submit a copy of your child's birth certificate. The Jury Management Office will grant you a postponement to give you ample time to find someone to care for your child. However, please be advised that the Jury Management Office will not grant you more than one postponement for this purpose.
You must be at least 18 years of age to serve as a juror. Any citizen who is 18 years of age or older is eligible to serve as a juror providing that he/she meets the other juror qualifications ( see Qualification of Jurors ). However, if you are 75 years of age or older, you may be excused from jury duty at your discretion. No medical excuse is required. In order to be excused, you must complete the Juror Qualification Form and check the box on the juror summons that reads: PLEASE EXCUSE DUE TO AGE 75 OR OLDER . Please write your age in the space provided and return the form to the Jury Management Office.
Full-time students and teachers are not exempt from jury duty. If you receive a summons directing you to report when you must either attend class or teach class, fill out the questionnaire and write down the exact date that is convenient for you to serve (e.g. during school break or summer vacation). Please note that jurors are not summoned on any national holiday, during the month of August, the week of Thanksgiving or the last two weeks of the year. You must request two consecutive days (e.g. Monday-Tuesday, Tuesday- Wednesday, Wednesday-Thursday or Thursday-Friday.) You will be notified in writing if you request is granted.
Jurors who are seeking to be excused from jury service due to religious beliefs may only be excused by a trial judge. Jurors must report for service and relate their concerns to the judge when they are sent to a courtroom for jury selection. However, if your reporting date falls on one of your religious holidays, you may request to be postponed to a later date. You must write your excuse on the Juror Qualification Form and indicate the date that you are able to serve. Please note that jurors are not summoned on any national holiday, during the month of August, the week of Thanksgiving or the last two weeks of the year. You must request two consecutive days (e.g. Monday-Tuesday, Tuesday- Wednesday, Wednesday-Thursday or Thursday-Friday.) You will be notified of your new service date in writing.
Please be aware that the court does not provide on-site parking. We urge jurors to take public transportation, as parking is difficult in the area around the courthouse. However, jurors who must use their own transportation are advised to get a Zone 2 parking permit from the Jury Management Office when they check-in.
After checking in, request a parking permit in Room 412. You will have to fill out a short application. A staff member will provide you with the permit, free of charge, as well as instructions outlining the names of streets covered by this permit and a copy of a map listing all Zone 2 areas. The permit must be placed in the rear driver's side window. The parking permit will allow you to park in Zone 2 for more than two hours without being ticketed. However, parking meters are not cover by this permit. In addition, Zone 2 permits will not prevent you from receiving a ticket or having your vehicle booted for violating other parking regulations, such as street cleaning rules . The courts are not responsible for parking tickets incurred during your jury service. As such, please observe all parking regulations to avoid receiving tickets.
Parking lots are privately owned and will require that you pay a daily fee. The courts will not reimburse you for any parking expenses.
For security reasons, jurors should refrain from bringing sharp objects such as knives or scissors in to the courthouse. In addition, any recording device, such as video or camera equipment, is also prohibited from entering the courthouse.
There is currently a statewide policy that requires all jurors to turn off cell phones, pagers and other wireless communication devices while in a courtroom, a deliberation room or a grand jury room. However, these devices may be utilized in the Jury Assembly Room and during court recess, provided the jurors are outside the deliberation rooms and courtrooms. For their convenience, jurors are provided with an emergency telephone number at which they may be contacted while they are participating in the jury selection process.
Jurors reporting for service should wear clothing appropriate for an appearance in court. Shorts, t-shirts, uniforms or clothing containing statements or offensive symbols are not permitted. All hats must be removed when in a courtroom. Comfortable clothing is also advisable due to long periods of sitting during jury service.