Frequently Asked Questions - Jury Duty

Will jury service place my job in jeopardy?
An employer may not deprive an employee of his/her employment solely because of job time lost by the employee as a result of responding to a jury summons or as a result of attending court for service or prospective service as a trial or grand juror.

Does my employer pay me for work-time lost while serving jury duty?
Employers are not obligated to pay their employees while serving jury duty. Some private employers do provide full or partial compensation to their employees for time lost due to serving jury duty. Many county, state, and federal agencies provide administrative leave (or excused leave) for employees called for jury duty in Maryland. You may want to contact your Human Resources Department or Personnel Manual to find out what your employer's policy is pertaining to jury service.

Are members of the military exempt from jury service?
There is no automatic exemption for members of the federal or state military services. You may claim such an exemption if your jury service on the date requested would unreasonably interfere with the performance of military duties or affect adversely the readiness of the military unit. The form certifying these requirements must be completed by the commanding officer or supervisor of the person requesting exemption. A copy of the form can be found here.

What is the payment policy for serving jury duty?
In Calvert County, jurors receive $20.00 per day. This is not a salary. It is more of a reimbursement for minor expenses while serving on jury duty.

How was I chosen?
A jury is selected at random from a cross section of the citizens who reside in Maryland. This cross section is drawn from voter registration as well as Motor Vehicle Administration lists, depending on the county where you reside.

To be eligible for jury duty, you must be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, a Maryland resident, and able to read, write, and understand the English language. There are certain exemptions from jury service, which you can learn about by contacting the Jury Commissioner in your county.

What is the difference between a grand jury and a trial jury?
A grand jury is made up of 23 people, who receive and hear evidence to determine whether probable cause exists to charge someone with a crime. A grand jury also can conduct its own investigations. Most often, you will be called to serve on a trial jury, generally made up of 12 individuals for criminal trials and 6 for civil trials. A trial jury listens to evidence in a courtroom and determines the facts in a particular case.

To learn more, review our Grand Jury Handbook and the informative guide to Trial Jury Service

Where do I report?
You must report at the time and place indicated on your summons. The night before you are scheduled to report, call the telephone number on your summons to be certain that you are still scheduled to appear.

What happens after I report?
In the courtroom, the Judge will tell you about the case, and introduce you to the lawyers and others who are involved in the case. You will also take an oath, in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully.

After you are sworn in, you and the other potential members of the jury will go through a process known as voir dire, or jury selection. During jury selection, the judge and the lawyers question you and other members of the panel to find out if any of you have any knowledge of the case, a personal interest in the outcome, or any interest in the case that might make it hard for you to be impartial.

Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. Questions are not asked to embarrass you. They are intended to make sure you have no opinions or past experiences that might prevent you from making an impartial decision. If you are uncomfortable answering a question, tell the judge and you may be allowed to give your response at the bench out of the hearing of other jurors.

If I am selected as a juror for a trial, how long will I serve?
Most trials last one-to-two days. However, trials can last up to several weeks, and in rare occasions, several months, depending on the complexity of the trial. The nature of the issues and evidence in a particular case may require a longer trial. The judge will inform you at the beginning of the trial as to how long it is anticipated the trial will last.

During the trial, you may have to wait in the jury room while the judge and lawyers settle questions of law. Judges and other courtroom personnel will do everything they can to minimize the waiting both before and during the trial. You may want to bring something to read.

Parties often settle their differences moments before the trial is scheduled to begin. In such instances, you will be excused with the thanks of the court.

What if I am sequestered?
If you are serving on a jury for more than one day, you will be allowed to go home for the evening, except in very rare circumstances, whereas jurors may be "sequestered" during the trial or during jury deliberations. In this case, you may have to spend the night at an accommodation assigned by the court. This is done to assure than an unbiased opinion is not jeopardized by outside influences. If you are sequestered and have to spend the night, your hotel/motel stay and dinner expenses will be compensated by the courts.

What types of cases will I hear?
Jury cases are either civil or criminal. Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies, or other organizations. Usually, the party that brings the suit (the plaintiff) asks for money damages for some wrong alleged to have been done.

The State brings a criminal case against one or more persons accused of committing a crime. The person accused of the crime is the defendant. The State must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant committed the alleged crime.

What happens during a trial?
Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the judge. Here is the usual order of events:

Step 1: Selection of the jury
Step 2: Opening statements
Step 3: Presentation of the evidence
Step 4: Jury instructions
Step 5: Closing arguments
Step 6: Jury deliberations
Step 7: Announcement of the verdict

What if I have an emergency?
Because your absence can delay a trial, it is important that you report each day you are required. If an emergency occurs, such as a sudden illness, accident, or death in the family, contact the court staff immediately so the court can take your circumstances into account.

What if I have special needs?
The Maryland Judiciary is committed to making jury service accessible to everyone. If you have any concerns about accessibility or if you have any special needs, please contact the Jury Commissioner's Office in advance.

What can/cannot be brought in?
If you want to bring papers, cellular telephones, cameras, or other electronic equipment ino the courtroom, please check with the Jury Commissioner in advance. Rules vary by jurisdiction. Some courthouses will not allow access to anyone carrying these items.

What should I wear?
Jurors should observe courtroom decorum. Clothing worn for an office job, or for a job interview is appropriate. Generally, no shorts, T-shirts with logos, or halter tops are permitted.

What do I do for lunch?
Most county courthouses either provide an area to eat lunch and/or allow prospective jurors to go out for lunch. Vending machines are also generally provided. There will usually be a time limit for lunch.

How do I get to the courthouse? Where do I park?
Most, but not all, county courthouses have parking for prospective jurors. For directions and parking information, call the Jury Commissioner's Office.