Information For Jurors Frequently Asked Questions
- How was I selected for jury duty?
- What types of cases are tried in federal court?
Both civil and criminal cases are tried in federal court. A civil case involves a dispute between two or more individuals or corporations. The party bringing the action may request monetary damages or may ask the court to order the defendant to perform or stop performing certain actions or both. In a civil case a person called the plaintiff files a complaint against another party, the defendant, who then must file an answer to the complaint.
Criminal cases are also tried in federal court if they involve breaking a federal law. In the federal court, a criminal case must be brought by the U.S. Attorney who serves as the attorney for the government. The evidence alleging the individual committed a federal crime must be presented to a grand jury and if the citizens on the grand jury agree, they issue an indictment. The person is then arrested and required to plead "guilty" or "not guilty" to the crime. If the person pleads "not guilty," he or she must have a trial.
Additional information on Jury Service in Federal Courts is available on the U.S. Courts website.
- What is a petit jury?
A petit jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial, and instruction on the applicable law from the judge, and returns a verdict. A verdict in a civil case may be a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant involved guilty or not guilty. More information is available in the Handbook for Trial Jurors Serving in the United States District Courts.
- What is a grand jury?
A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether a person should have formal charges filed by the government. If the grand jury finds probable cause, then it will return a written statement of the charges, called an indictment. Grand jurors sit on a panel of 23 jurors. In Detroit grand jurors generally serve four to six days per month for 18 months. In divisional offices grand jurors generally serve two to three days per month for 18 months. Grand jury terms may be extended if necessary. More information is available in the Handbook for Federal Grand Jurors.
- Whom do I call if I have a question?
Contact the Jury Department at 313-234-5000.
If you received a summons for jury duty and are questioning whether or not to report the following day, call 1-800-755-5879 after 6:00 p.m. for reporting instructions.
- What if I served jury duty in another court?
Jury duty in state court does not exempt you from jury duty in Federal Court.
If you receive a jury summons, and have served on a grand or petit jury in a federal court within the last two years, you may request to be excused. You must indicate your request on your juror qualification questionnaire. Please include the location of the federal court in which you served.
- What do I wear to court?
Due to the dignity of Court proceedings, the judges of the Eastern District of Michigan request that you wear nothing less than business casual attire.
- Can I bring my cellular phone or laptop computer?
No. Cellular phones (including BlackBerrys), PDA devices, cameras, tape recorders, laptop computers or any other electronic communication devices are prohibited in the courthouse. Please leave these items at home or in your car.
- Can I bring my children to the courthouse if I have no babysitter?
No. The Court does not have child care facilities.
- What if I don't drive?
Not driving does not excuse you from jury service. Public transportation may be available. If you have someone drive you, he/she is welcome to wait in the jury assembly room while you are in the courtroom. Please be advised taxi fare is not a reimbursable expense.
- Will I have to pay for parking when I report for jury service?
Yes, with the exception of jurors summoned to Bay City.
If you are reporting to Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint or Port Huron you will be responsible to pay for your parking when reporting. A parking allowance will be included in your attendance check.
Please do not leave and then return to the parking lot during the day unless you are willing to pay the fee for parking a second time. You will only be reimbursed one parking allowance per day.
Jurors in Bay City do not have to pay for parking. They will receive a parking permit with their summons and directions to a designated lot.
- What if I am late?
If you are going to be late, please call the Jury Department at 313-234-5085 and explain the situation.
- What if I fail to report for jury service?
If you fail to report when summoned for jury duty, the Court may issue an Order to Show
Cause. The order will require you to explain why you did not obey the summons. The
Court may hold a hearing on the Order to Show Cause.
As a result of the Order to Show Cause, a person who does not report for jury service may
be subject to prosecution under 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g). Penalties range from a fine of not
more than $1,000, up to three days in jail, community service, or any combination thereof.
- How do I prove to my employer that I have been at the courthouse for jury service?
Certificates of attendance will be provided for those who need them for their employers.
- How much will I be paid and when can I expect the check?
You will be paid an attendance fee of $40.00 per day and mileage for traveling to and from the federal court facility. Mileage is computed from the center of the zip code in which you reside to the court location. A check for your attendance fee, mileage and if applicable, parking reimbursement will be sent your home address approximately two weeks after jury service has been completed.
- Are my attendance fees taxable?
Yes, your jury attendance fee is taxable (but not your travel reimbursement). If you should happen to make more than $600 in
attendance fees, you and the IRS will receive a form 1099 from the court.
- Is lunch provided by the court?
No, but you may bring a snack or lunch with you. The lunch hour is usually between 1 - 2 p.m. but this may vary. None of the court locations have any formal eating facilities. There are vending areas and a small snack shop located in the Detroit courthouse. The jury clerk can provide you with information on various restaurants. If you do wish to drive to a restaurant, please note that you will not be reimbursed for your parking a second time.
- Will I have to wait a long time in the jury room?
The court has taken steps to minimize the amount of time that jurors must wait in the jury room and to make that room as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately delays are sometimes unavoidable so it's a good idea to bring along a book or some other form of quiet entertainment.
- How long will jury selection take?
This varies. You should make arrangements to spend the entire day.
- If I am selected, how long will the trial last?
The average trial lasts approximately 3 - 5 days, however, some trials may continue for several weeks.
- Will I be asked to serve on more than one jury during my term of service?
It is possible, but rare for someone to serve on more than one jury during their term of service. If someone serves on a short trial or is selected for a jury and the case settles, he or she may still be required to call in for the rest of their term of service.
- Where can I find more information about jury service in the federal courts?