Serving on a jury is an interesting and rewarding experience. Jury Duty is service to your community and being part of the justice system. Ultimately, you have to serve because the law requires it.
We recognize the impact a jury summons has on your life, and we do all we can to ensure your jury service is as easy and convenient as possible. But we can’t make it go away.
To learn more about jury duty, please refer to the Mississippi Bar Juror’s Guide.
The Juror Experience
Citizens are selected from the ‘jury wheel’, the list of our courts’ potential juror pool. This pool is derived from the following lists:
- All registered voters in Bolivar County.
- All registered voters from neighboring counties that reside within Austin city limits.
- All persons in Bolivar County with either a driver’s license or a Department of Public Safety identification card.
To serve as a juror you must meet qualifications; you must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- be a citizen of this state and a resident of the county or city in which you are to serve as a juror);
- be qualified under the Constitution and laws to vote in the county or city in which you are to serve as a juror (Note: you DO NOT have to be registered to vote to be qualified to vote);
- be of sound mind and good moral character;
- be able to read and write;
- not have served as a juror for during the preceding 6 months in the county court or during the preceding 12 months in the circuit court;
- not have been convicted of theft or any felony; and
- not be under indictment or other legal accusation of a misdemeanor theft, felony theft, or any other felony charge.
You may be excused from jury service if:
- you are over 65 years of age;
- you have legal custody of a child or children younger than 10 years of age and service on the jury would require leaving the child or children without adequate supervision;
- you are an officer or an employee of the senate, the house of representatives, or any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the legislative branch of state government;
- you are the primary caretaker of a person who is an invalid unable to care for himself or herself. (This exemption does not apply to health care workers);
- you have served as a juror in the county during the 24-month period prior to the date you are required to appear for this summons
COMMIT YOUR ASSIGNED JURY DUTY SCHEDULE TO YOUR CALENDARS, COMPUTERS, SMART DEVICES, AND PERSONAL SCHEDULERS TO REMIND YOURSELF TO APPEAR IN COURT.
The exact starting time for certain trials are not determined until shortly before the trial starts.
If your assignment says to call before coming to the courthouse, you must do so at the time stated.
If you call earlier, you may be calling before the final decision is made and may have to call back again later.
You can avoid an unnecessary trip to the courthouse if you call at the proper time so you can receive the correct time to report.
*Occurs only on Monday mornings: begins the jury selection process
:60 – :90 minutes
2. Jury Selection
*Takes place within 3-4 weeks after Impaneling
Less than 4 hours
*One day to two weeks or longer, depending upon trial
About a week
At Impaneling, jurors are:
- Given an oath of office. You may affirm or promise if you do not give oaths.
- Qualified to serve. We depend upon jurors to let the judge know if they are concerned about being qualified.
- Excused or postponed if permitted by law. Most excuses that are not disqualifications or exemptions are at the judge’s discretion.
- Given information about jury service in general. We try to let you know what to expect and what to do.
- Assigned to various trials. Your assignment will be in writing and contain all the information you need about where and when to report for jury selection.
Jurors hear either civil or criminal cases. Civil cases may involve small claims, requests for moderate damages, or millions of dollars in damages. They can also involve family law matters or requests for non-monetary relief. Criminal trials include traffic violations, misdemeanors, and felonies.
The process of selecting a jury is called voir dire and is essentially done by the attorney in the case under a presiding judge. Juries are comprised of 6 to 12 jurors, depending on the court in which the case is being tried. If you are not picked, you are usually released from further jury duty; however, there are times when jurors not picked for one trial are sent to a second trial for jury selection.
During the trial, you should follow the judge’s instructions as to your conduct and listen to the evidence. Expect to spend time in the jury room away from the courtroom as the judge and lawyers discuss matters outside the jury’s presence. At some point, you will gather in the jury room and deliberate to reach a verdict. The judge will give you written instructions on how to deliberate.
The judge will instruct all jurors about any special rules that need to be followed.
How long before I’m called for jury service again?”
We use lists of names from different sources to create the list of names for jury service. Sometimes, we are not able to match names from each of these lists. If we can’t make the match, you might get another summons. If this occurs, the law allows you a two-year exemption from having to serve a second time.