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Frequently Asked Questions

How was I selected for jury service?

What is a grand jury?

What is a petit jury?

Can my employer fire me for serving as a juror?

May I be excused from a portion of the jury term?

How can my family reach me in case of an emergency?

What if I have a sudden emergency?

What items can and cannot be brought into the courthouse?

What should I wear?

What does “on call,” mean?

I lost my 9 digit Participant Number. How can I find out what is is?

Will the Court call my home or work asking for personal information such as my social security number? Will the Court ask me to pay a fine over the telephone?

What happens if I fail to report for jury service?

I was selected to sit as a juror in a trial. Are there any restrictions on my use of social media? Can I talk to my family or others about the case?

How do I prove to my employer that I was on jury duty?

What if there is a severe weather threat on the day I am to report for jury service?

I don’t live in the county where I’ve been summoned to report for jury service. Do I have to report?

Are juror attendance fees considered reportable income?

 

 

How was I selected for jury service
Your name was randomly selected from the official voter registration lists maintained by the State of Alabama or local election officials of the counties comprising the district for the most recent federal general election held in the fall of even-numbered years.

 

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 are on a panel of 23 jurors and generally serve three to four days per month for 12 months.

 

What is a petit jury?
A Petit Jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases, and consists of 6 to 12 members. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial 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. Petit jurors are usually on call for a two week term of court. Please read your summons carefully as it will tell you the anticipated term of court for your duty.

 

Can my employer fire me for serving as a juror?
28 U.S.C. § 1875 (a) and (b) states that no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee's jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States.
Any employer who violates the provisions of this section—
(1) shall be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by an employee by reason of such violation;
(2) may be enjoined from further violations of this section and ordered to provide other appropriate relief, including but not limited to the reinstatement of any employee discharged by reason of his jury service; and
(3) shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each violation as to each employee, and may be ordered to perform community service.

 

May I be excused from a portion of the jury term?
The court will try to honor a juror's request for a partial excuse for a doctor's appointment, prepaid vacation plans, or business obligations. Request a deferral either online or in writing and explain the reason for your request, giving the date(s) you need to be gone. If we are unable to accommodate your request we may defer your service to another term of court.

 

How can my family reach me in case of an emergency?
Your family may call the automated jury line at 1-800-222-8715 and follow the prompts to transfer to the Jury Office. Family members may also call the Jury Administrator, Cindy Kimbrell, at 205-278-1775, or the Jury Specialist, Cheryle Eiland, at 205-278-1709.

 

What if I have a sudden emergency?
It is important that jurors report when they are required to and are prompt. Absences may delay or even jeopardize trials. If jurors are faced with an emergency such as a sudden illness or a death in the family, they should follow the instructions that they were given by the court. If they are unable to do so, they should telephone the Jury Administrator, Cindy Kimbrell, at 205-278-1775, or the Jury Specialist, Cheryle Eiland, at 205-278-1709.

 

What items can and cannot be brought into the courthouse?
You may bring laptops, Ipads, and cell phones into the courthouse. Restrictions as to when and where you may use these items will be discussed during Jury Orientation.

Please do not attempt to bring the following items into the courthouse: cameras, recording devices, weapons, scissors, knives, box cutters, knitting needles, or any item that could be construed as a weapon. If you attempt to enter the courthouse with a prohibited item you will be refused entrance at that time and will be instructed to take the item back to your car. These procedures are in place for your safety in addition to the safety of court staff. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in this matter.

 

What should I wear?
Jurors must wear appropriate attire. Shorts, halter tops, tank tops, dirty/stained clothing are not considered appropriate attire and should not be worn to the courthouse. As many people struggle with allergies and other breathing problems, please be considerate when using perfumes and colognes. Our courtroom temperatures are generally cool so you may wish to bring a light sweater or jacket. Since you will be passing through a metal detector, please leave excess metal and jewelry at home to speed up your entry into the courthouse.

 

What does “on call,” mean?
“On call” means that prospective jurors will not be asked to report to the courthouse unless their names are randomly selected to report for jury selection. Jurors are expected to be available throughout the term of their service and to report when the court calls them. You will not be required to call for reporting instructions every night during the term of your jury service. Typically, you will call for instructions on the Friday before a Monday reporting date. At that time, you may be instructed to report on that Monday, you may be asked to call back the following Friday about reporting the second week of your service, or your jury service may be canceled completely. We apologize for any difficulties this process may cause. The Judges of this Court greatly appreciate both your time and your willingness to serve.

 

I lost my 9 digit Participant Number. How can I find out what is is?
Please call the automated jury line at 1-800-222-8715 and follow the prompts to transfer to the Jury Office. A staff member will be happy to look this information up for you.

 

Will the Court call my home or work asking for personal information such as my social security number? Will the Court ask me to pay a fine over the telephone?
Court staff will not ask you to provide sensitive information like social security numbers or credit card numbers over the telephone. Also, the Court will not call or email you requesting you to pay a fine via the telephone. Most federal court contact with prospective jurors will be through U.S. mail.

If you receive a call or email requesting such information, please tell the person calling that you are going to hangup and call the Court directly. Court employees and law enforcement personnel will not have a problem with you verifying their call, and you should take every precaution to protect your personal and financial information.

 

What happens if I fail to report for jury service?
Any person summoned for jury service who fails to appear as directed may be ordered by the district court to appear and show cause for his or her failure to comply with the summons. Any person who fails to show good cause for noncompliance may be fined, imprisoned, and/or ordered to complete community service.

 

I was selected to sit as a juror in a trial. Are there any restrictions on my use of social media? Can I talk to my family or others about the case?
As a juror you play a critical role in ensuring that all parties receive a fair trial. It is essential that your decisions be based solely on the information you receive in the courtroom. Please remember these rules:

★ Do not talk to anyone, or let anyone talk to you, about the case. This includes your family and friends. You must not discuss any aspect of the case with anyone until the trial is concluded. Also, do not discuss the case with the other jurors until your deliberations begin.
★ Do not receive or send electronic communications about the case. This includes texting, emailing, blogging, posting information on social network websites, or using any other electronic communications to discuss or even mention this case.
★ Avoid outside information from the internet or other sources. Do not seek information about any aspect of the case, including searching on the internet. Avoid news reports - broadcast, print or internet - relating to this case or issues in this case.

 

How do I prove to my employer that I was on jury duty?
Upon receiving a juror summons, please tell your employer as soon as possible that you've been summoned for jury service in this court. If you are required to report for jury duty the court will provide you with a "Certificate of Attendance," reflecting the date(s) you reported for duty. You may also print a copy of this certificate online via eJuror.

 

What if there is a severe weather threat on the day I am to report for jury service?
Please call the automated jury line at 1-800-222-8715 to check your reporting instructions. If the Court delays or cancels reporting due to severe weather, your reporting instructions will be updated accordingly.

 

I don’t live in the county where I’ve been summoned to report for jury service. Do I have to report?
Residents of Blount, Jefferson and Shelby counties may be called to report for jury service at the federal courthouse located in Birmingham, AL.

Residents of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Cullman, Jackson, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties may be called to report for jury service at the federal courthouses located in Birmingham, Decatur, Florence or Huntsville, AL.

Residents of Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Talladega, Cherokee, DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall, and St. Clair counties may be called to report for jury service at the federal courthouses located in Anniston, Birmingham or Huntsville, AL.

Residents of Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Walker, Winston, Bibb, Greene, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties may be called to report for jury service at the federal courthouses located in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa, AL.

If you have been summoned to report to a location other than what is set out above, please notify the Jury Office at 1-800-222-8715.

 

Are juror attendance fees considered reportable income?
The IRS considers juror attendance fees to be Other Income and must be reported. At the end of the year, a 1099 MISC form will be mailed to all jurors who earn $600 or more in attendance fees in the calendar year. This applies only to the "attendance fee" and not for reimbursement for travel expenses (mileage, tolls, etc.).