Am I automatically eligible to serve as a juror when I turn 18?
To qualify as a juror in Alaska, you must be:
- a citizen of the United States;
- a resident of Alaska;
- at least 18 years old;
- of sound mind;
- able to speak or read; and
- not be under the supervision of the justice system because of a felony
How are potential jurors selected?
Jury selection begins when the local court calls a random group of people on a list developed from Permanent Fund Dividend recipients, voter registration, and other mailing lists available to the court, such as hunting, fishing, and driver’s licenses.
Not everyone who is called will serve on a jury. The court brings in more prospective jurors than will be needed. Judges can excuse prospective jurors for a number of reasons, including having a financial interest, or having family members or friends involved in the case. The judge can also excuse people who show prejudice or bias, or have formed an opinion about the case, or who would suffer hardship from serving on the jury. In a process called voir dire, lawyers for each side of the case ask prospective jurors questions. The lawyers are allowed to remove (strike) a certain number of potential jurors to get a jury they think will be fair to their clients.
If I’m summoned for jury duty, do I have to respond?
Yes. If you don’t respond to a jury summons, you can be held in contempt of court and be fined or imprisoned or both. Read the summons that you receive to find out how to respond. The summons will instruct you how to contact the court if you do not meet the eligibility requirements, or if jury service would cause undue hardship for you, or for certain other reasons. You can ask for one postponement if you cannot serve on the date in your summons. Whatever your circumstances, however, do not just ignore the jury summons.
What if I can’t get time off work to report for jury service?
Employers are required to give employees time off for jury duty. (Depending on your employer, however, you may lose wages during that time.) Also, it is against the law for an employer to fire or harass you for reporting to jury duty as long as you have given the employer reasonable notice. If this occurs, notify your local jury office or the judge assigned to your trial. There are also laws allowing students to be excused from classes to fulfill their jury service.
Will I be paid if I serve on a jury?
People who are called for jury duty receive a small payment for their services.
What happens if I’m not selected to serve on a jury?
If you are not chosen as a juror on the first day of your jury service, you will be excused and cannot be summoned back for such service for at least one year. If you are chosen to sit on a jury, you will be expected to serve as a juror throughout the trial. Once the trial concludes, however, you will not be summoned back for at least a year. Trials can range from a day or two in length to months or, in rare cases, even longer. However, the judge in the case will have some idea of what to expect. And if serving as a juror in a long trial would be extremely difficult for you, you will have an opportunity to explain your situation to the judge. For more information on jury service, see http://courts.alaska.gov/jury-trial.htm#pt1 or http://www.akd.uscourts.gov/faq_jury.htm.