Maryland Courts

FAQs

  1. Why did I receive a Juror Qualification Form?
  2. What is the Juror Summons?
  3. Who can serve on a jury?
  4. Who do I contact if I need an accommodation to serve on a jury?
  5. Can I volunteer for jury service?
  6. Can I be excused from jury service?
  7. Can I change the date of my jury service?
  8. Will I be paid for my jury service?
  9. How many days will I be on jury service?
  10. Why am I being asked to serve on a jury again?
  11. Is there a penalty if I do not appear for each day of jury service?
  12. Does the law protect my employment if I am on jury service?
  13. Will I lose my unemployment benefits if I serve on a jury?
  14. What is the difference between a grand jury and a trial jury?
  15. How do I report for jury service?
  16. Is everyone who appears for jury service selected to sit on a jury?
  17. Can I bring my cell phone, laptop or MP3 player?
  18. Can I investigate a case on my own while I am on jury service?
  19. Can I use social media while I am on jury service?
  20. How long will I be at the courthouse?
  21. How are my safety and privacy protected?

 


1. Why did I receive a Juror Qualification Form? 

You received the Juror Qualification Form because your name was randomly selected from one of the lists used by your county/Baltimore City to identify prospective jurors.

See more information about receiving and completing the Juror Qualification Form.

2. What is the Juror Summons? 

For a prospective juror, a “summons” is a written order issued by a court that requires the prospective juror to report for jury service at a specific date and time.  In some counties, a summons is included with the Juror Qualification Form.  In other counties, the summons is sent separate from the Jury Qualification Form. 

3.  Who can serve on a jury?

Anyone who is “qualified” can serve on a jury.  While no citizen can be kept from serving on a jury because of her or his color, disability, economic status, national origin, race, religion, or sex, a person can be “disqualified” or “exempt” from being on a jury for other reasons. 

Qualified.  You are “qualified” (meaning you meet the statutory requirements to be a juror) if you:

  • Are at least 18 years of age – and there is no “upper age limit”,
  • Are a U.S. citizen, and
  • Reside in the county/Baltimore City in which you would serve as a juror.

Disqualified.  You cannot serve on a jury – you are “disqualified” – if you:

  • Cannot read, write, speak or understand the English language,
  • Have a disability that prevents you from providing satisfactory jury service (this must be documented by a health care provider),
  • Have been convicted of a crime punishable by more than 6 months in prison, were sentenced to more than 6 months in prison and have not been pardoned, or
  • Have criminal charges pending for a crime that is punishable by more than 6 months in prison.

Also, a trial judge may disqualify you if you are a party in a civil case in the county/Baltimore City in which you would serve.

Exempt.  Even if you are qualified to be on a jury, you might be released from that responsibility (be “exempt” from jury service) if you are:

  • At least 70 years old, and you made a written request to your local Jury Office to be exempted (you can do this on the Juror Qualification Form),
  • A member of the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, or
  • An active duty member of the armed forces or the state militia.  The additional criteria for this exemption are set out on the form that must be completed by your commanding officer or supervisor.
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4.  Who do I contact if I need an accommodation to serve on a jury?

If you have a disability and need an accommodation, please contact your local Jury Office as soon as possible after receiving your Juror Summons.  The Judiciary is committed to providing prospective jurors with an equal opportunity to participate in jury service.

If you believe that you have a disability that prevents satisfactory completion of jury service, you must submit a written signed statement from your health care provider explaining that you are not able to satisfactorily perform jury duty.  Your Juror Qualification Form will provide more information.

5.  Can I volunteer for jury service?

No, Maryland law specifically states that volunteers for jury service must be refused. The law is Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, Section 8-102(d).

This helps ensure that the jury is selected at random and from a cross section of citizens.

6.  Can I be excused from jury service?

Under certain very limited circumstances, you can be excused from jury service.             

  • You must show that excusal is required because of extreme inconvenience, public necessity, or undue hardship. 
  • Being excused is intended to be used only for the most serious of situations.  It is not a way to avoid jury service because it is inconvenient or you do not want to serve.
  • Being excused does not mean that you will never be called for jury service.  An excusal is good only for the period for which it is necessary.  When that period ends, you will be called for jury service.
If you believe that your circumstances meet the criteria for being excused, contact your local Jury Office for more information.

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7.  Can I change the date of my jury service?

Your date of jury service sometimes can be changed if there is a pressing reason, for example, a previously scheduled medical procedure or travel plans.  In some circumstances, you can make this change online.           

  • If you received your Juror Summons from one of the counties/Baltimore City that permit the Juror Qualification Form to be completed online, you can also go online to make a one-time change in your report date.  Your form will state whether you can use the online system.  Go here to make the change online.
  • If you received your summons from a county that does not have an online system, or if you cannot change the date online, contact your local Jury Office to discuss your situation.

8.  Will I be paid for my jury service? 

Yes.

  • Per diem. You will receive a reimbursement (the “per diem”) for each day of jury service.  The amount generally varies from $15 to $30 per day, depending on the jurisdiction.  If you serve on one trial jury for more than 5 days, the per diem becomes $50 beginning on the 6th day of jury service.  Contact your local Jury Office for more information.
  • Generous Juror Program.  Some counties have a voluntary program (called the Generous Juror Program) which permits jurors to donate the per diem to the local department of social services.  The money is used by the Department for the children it serves.  The money may be used, for example, for school supplies, special tutoring or recreational activities.  Your local Jury Office can also tell you whether your county participates.  A juror's participation is voluntary.

9.  How many days will I be on jury service? 

The length of jury service is established by each Circuit Court.  Your local Jury Office can tell you how long you will have to serve.

10.  Why am I being asked to serve on a jury again?

In general, you are not required to serve on a jury, or attend court for jury service, more than once every 3 years.  But there are exceptions.  A jury plan (every county and Baltimore City must have its own jury plan) may provide that if you served on a jury for less than 5 days, you may be asked to serve again after 1 year.

To learn the requirement in your county/Baltimore City, check your county’s jury plan.  If you believe that you have been called to jury service more frequently than is permitted under the jury plan, contact your local Jury Office.

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11.  Is there a penalty if I do not appear for jury service or do not complete my service?

Yes.

  • If you do not appear for jury service at the date and time directed by the summons, you can be fined for up to $1,000, put in jail for up to 60 days, or both. 
  • If you do not complete jury service, you can be fined for up to $1,000, put in jail for up to 90 days, or both.

The relevant laws are Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, Sections 8-504 and 8-505.

There are also penalties for failing to complete the Juror Qualification Form accurately and for not returning that Form. You can learn more about these penalties here.

12.  Does the law protect my employment if I am on jury service?

Protections.  The law has several protections for employees.  Your employer cannot:

  • Fire you (or coerce, intimidate or threaten to fire you) because you lost time from work as a result of attending court for jury service or because you had to be in proximity to the court for jury service. 
  • Fire you (or coerce, intimidate or threaten to fire you) if you exercise your right (under certain circumstances) not to work on a day on which you are on jury service. 
  • Require you to use your leave (annual, sick or vacation) for jury service. 
  • Under certain circumstances, require you to work on a day on which you are on jury service.  If you are summoned and you appear for jury service for 4 or more hours, including traveling time, your employer cannot require you to work an employment shift that begins:
    --On or after 5 p.m. on the day of your appearance for jury service; or
    --Before 3 a.m. on the day after your appearance for jury service.

Pay.  Your employer does not have to pay you for the time that you are on jury service, although some employers do pay their employees for the time the employees are on jury service.

Laws.  These protections are found in Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceeding Article, Sections 8-501 and 8-502.  Any person who violates these laws may be fined up to $1,000.   

Documentation.  The Jury Office can issue you a certificate that documents the number of days you were on a jury or required to be available for jury service.  You can provide this certificate if your employer wants documentation of your jury service.

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13.  Will I lose my unemployment benefits if I serve on a jury?

No.  Under Maryland law, you will not be denied unemployment benefits because you had jury service and were unable to work or seek work.  The relevant law is Maryland Annotated Code, Labor & Employment Article, Sections 8-101(z)(3)(x), 8-907(a) and 8-1108(a)(1)).  For more information, you can contact the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

14.  What is the difference between a grand jury and a trial jury?

  • A grand jury decides whether there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime.  A grand jury also can conduct investigations.  Learn more about being a grand juror.
  • A trial jury - traditionally called a "petit jury" - listens to evidence in a courtroom, and decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant in a criminal case, and the liability and damages of the parties in a civil case.  Most jurors serve on a trial jury.  Learn more about being a trial juror
You will not be asked to serve on more than one grand jury at the same time, or as both a grand juror and a trial juror.

15.  How do I report for jury service?

Call in or check in. Your local Jury Office tries to summons only as many people as will be needed for jury selection on a particular day. Sometimes fewer people are needed than was originally thought, as cases settle, trials are postponed, etc. Your Juror Summons will tell you whether, and how, to call in - or check online - prior to reporting for jury service to make sure you are needed for jury service.

  • If, after checking, you are told not to report, do not go to the courthouse. You may be called to jury service sometime in the future.
  • If your summons does not tell you to call in or check online, you must appear at the courthouse on the day and time set out in the summons.
Reporting. On the date set out in your Juror Summons:
  • Arrive at the courthouse early enough that you can get through security and still be on time. Your summons tells you what time you have to be in the room identified on the summons.
  • Bring your Juror Summons and a photo identification with you. You must bring both with you each time you come to the courthouse.
  • Go to the room identified on your summons.

16. Is everyone who appears for jury service selected to sit on a jury?

No. More individuals are called to jury service than are selected to serve on a jury. This is in part because there have to be enough jurors to hear each case and allow for challenges.

In addition, some cases end up not needing any jury at all. Cases often settle at the last minute, sometimes even after a jury is selected. Your presence as a prospective juror may have been what was needed to encourage the parties to come to a resolution themselves.

17.  Can I bring my cell phone, laptop or MP3 player?

You can generally bring an electronic device (for example, laptop, cell phone, MP3 player), but use is limited or prohibited in certain areas.

  • Electronic devices must be turned off, inoperable, and not used in a courtroom.  In some courthouses, they are not permitted in the courtroom even if turned off.
  • Electronic devices cannot be brought into the jury deliberation room. 
  • If you violate the restrictions, your electronic device may be confiscated by security or other court personnel, and you may be arrested.
  • Be conscious of noise – if you use your electronic device to listen to music, videos, etc., you must use headphones so you do not disturb courthouse staff or your fellow jurors.
  • While you are on jury service, including while you are in the jury assembly area, you cannot use your electronic device to research, investigate or communicate regarding any case for which you might serve on the jury.  You cannot, for example, research a case using online media outlets or other websites.  You also cannot communicate about a case on a blog or using social networking, Twitter, text, instant messaging, telephone or email, etc.

18.  Can I investigate a case on my own while I am on jury service? 

No.  Grand juries and trial juries must reach their decisions based solely on the evidence and instructions presented in court.  So, jurors – and prospective jurors - cannot act as investigators and cannot independently investigate a case they are hearing (or might hear).  

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19.  Can I use social media while I am on jury service?

Yes, but you must follow guidelines that may change how you use social media.  In short, while you are on jury service, you cannot use social media to investigate or talk about any matter that is, or might be, before the jury.  Learn more about social media.

20.  How long will I be at the courthouse?

Generally, you should plan to be at the courthouse all day for every day that you are told to report.  Except for a brief lunch break, do not expect to be permitted to leave to run errands or pick your children up from school, etc.

21.  How are my safety and privacy protected? 

Your safety. The court takes juror safety very seriously.  If you have any reason to believe that your safety is at risk, tell the judge, courtroom personnel, or your local Jury Office

Criminal cases.  Protections include:

  • Cameras are not permitted in the courtroom. 
  • The case will not be broadcast on television or radio.
  • Jurors are referred to by juror number, and not by name, during court proceedings in the courtroom and in chambers.
  • The information about you that is given to the judge, attorneys and parties during jury selection is limited.  Under certain very narrow circumstances, the judge can impose further restrictions on the information that is released.
Civil cases.  Cameras may be permitted in the courtroom in a civil case, but jury selection is not broadcast and the jury is not filmed.

Learn more about Cell Phones, Other Electronic Devices, and Cameras in Court Facilities .