You have been selected to serve on a jury. Jury duty is an important part of a fair and just criminal justice system. This is both a responsibility and an honor, to ensure citizens have a right to due process and a fair trial. We have provided you with important information to help you be the best juror possible.
Amador Court Jury Services
24-Hour Recorded Group Reporting Information: 209-257-2641
What is Jury Duty - Video
If you are selected as a prospective juror in a particular case, the judge will admonish you not to speak with any other juror or other person about any subjects connected with the case until the case is submitted for deliberation. In addition, you are not to allow any juror or other person to speak to you about subjects related to the case.
If you were to discuss the facts of the case, or your impressions of it, with a fellow juror, your family, friends or any other person, you would be exposing your mind to outside influences. Remember that all cases must be decided solely on the evidence received in the courtroom.
In addition, the admonition that you neither form nor express opinions on the case requires that you keep an open mind until all evidence has been presented and the case has been submitted to you and your fellow jurors for deliberation. Even an inadvertent violation of this instruction would be a violation of your oath as a juror.
You will be asked to wear a badge so that you will be recognized as a juror and avoid subjecting yourself to any inappropriate discussions related to the case. If you believe someone has deliberately tried to speak to you about the case, you must report the incident to the judge immediately.
How the trial proceeds
Jurors serve in two kinds of cases, criminal and civil. In a criminal case, the plaintiff is a prosecutor who represents the State of California. The prosecutor alleges that the defendant committed a crime. The prosecution has the burden of proving each element of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, a person or entity - the plaintiff - asks the Court to protect some right or help recover money or property from another person or entity - the defendant. There is a different burden of proof for civil cases.
First the attorney for the plaintiff in a civil trial, or the deputy district attorney in a criminal trial, will tell the jury what he or she intends to prove. The attorney for the defense may speak after that or may wait until after the other side presents its evidence.
Presentation of the evidence
After the opening statements, each side in the case will present its evidence. This is done by calling witnesses, asking them questions and presenting exhibits such as photographs, papers, charts, weapons or any other evidence to prove its case. Sometimes the defense in the case will not present evidence. In a criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. No criminal defendant is required to supply a defense. Each side has the opportunity to ask questions of all witnesses called to testify.
Generally speaking, witnesses, exhibits admitted by the judge, witnesses' sworn written depositions and any stipulations or agreements between the sides as to certain facts of the case, are examples of evidence.
Judges and lawyers must follow the Evidence Code, which has been created over time to insure a fair trial. During a trial, information may come up that cannot be considered as evidence, and the judge will tell you to not to consider it when deliberating. The judge decides which evidence is proper or admissible according to the law. Although the judge decides which evidence you may consider, you decide if that evidence is believable and how important it is to the case.
After presentation of all the evidence, the attorneys will sum up the case from their perspectives. Taking turns, each side will tell you what he or she believes the evidence shows and why it favors his or her side.
The judge will instruct you on your duties as jurors either before or after the attorneys present their closing arguments. The judge will also tell you about the law that applies to the case.
After instructions and closing arguments, the bailiff or court attendant will escort you to the jury room where you and the other jurors will deliberate. First, you will select one of the jurors as foreperson. He or she leads the discussion and tries to encourage everyone to join in. Do not be afraid to speak out during deliberations. The whole idea of a jury is to come to a decision after full and frank discussion of the evidence and the instructions, based on calm, unbiased reasoning. In civil cases, it takes nine jurors to reach a verdict. In criminal cases, the verdict must be unanimous.
When you have reached your verdict - which may come after a few hours or several days - the foreperson will record your verdict on an official form. The bailiff will tell the judge you are ready and you will return to the jury box. The judge will ask if you have reached a verdict. The foreperson will answer, handing the written verdict to the bailiff for delivery to the judge. The clerk will read it aloud and mark the record accordingly. Sometimes one or all of the parties will ask that the jury be "polled". This means that the judge or clerk will ask each juror individually if this is his or her own verdict. The juror's service will then be complete in most cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the non-refundable jury fee – Effective September 17,2012?
Please see the FAQ for the Assembly Bill 1481
for Frequently Asked Questions and Answers relevant to Attorneys and Parties.
How are people called for Jury Service?
The selection and management of jurors is governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure. Jurors' names are selected at random from lists of registered voters and persons who have valid California driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The two lists are combined to create one Master Jury List. The summonses are mailed approximately two weeks prior to the service date. The summons contains information and instructions on how to have jury service postponed; how to request to be excused for service; or how to notify the Court of disqualification from jury service.
If you have been summoned for jury duty, read the summons carefully and follow its instructions.
How often will I be called for Jury Service?
The Amador Superior Court operates on a One Trial/One Day system. Jurors are instructed to call a recorded message the day prior to the summons date, after 5 PM, for reporting instructions. Jurors may also check the Jury Duty Instructions on this website.
Once instructed to report to the courthouse, a juror may or may not be selected to serve as a juror in a trial court. The Jury Commissioner is required to have a sufficient number of jurors for all anticipated trials.
If a prospective juror is selected to serve on a trial as a sworn juror, the term of service will be the length of that trial. Trials vary in length.
If a prospective juror is not selected to serve on a trial by the end of the first day at the courthouse, and the judge has not ordered the juror to return for another day of jury selection, jury service is complete. Approximately 80% of our prospective jurors complete their service in one day.
Will I be paid for Jury Service?
State law does not currently require employers to continue paying the salary of employees while they are serving as jurors. However, many employers including state, federal, and local government agencies, have a policy which compensates employees for at least part, if not all the time spent for jury service. Before coming to court, the juror should talk with his or her employer.
Prospective jurors are paid the amount mandated by the State Legislature, $15.00 per day for the second and subsequent day of service. "Service" is defined as physically reporting to the courthouse. The mileage reimbursement is 34 cents per mile one-way from your home to the courthouse, beginning with the second day.
Payroll checks are not forwarded by the Post Office. Therefore, it is important that the jury office has the correct name and address of each of its serving jurors in order to make sure the jurors receive their checks timely.
What happens if a juror does not report as instructed?
Every resident of Amador County who is qualified to serve and who does not have a legal hardship or excuse must appear for jury service when summoned. Willful failure to appear is contempt of Court. Contempt of Court is punished by fine of up to $1,000.00 and/or five days in the county jail.
Is my employer required to give me time off to serve as a juror?
Employers cannot discriminate against employees serving on jury duty. Employers must allow employees time off to serve on a jury. The California Labor Code, section 230, prohibits any employer from firing or harassing an employee who is summoned to Court for jury service as long as reasonable notice is given. The California Education Code, Sections 44037 and 87036 protect teachers and students as well. Employers can also be prosecuted criminally for violating the aforementioned statues.
What if I need special assistance?
If you will need special arrangements when you report (e.g., assistive listening device, accessibility, sign language interpreter, etc.), please call 209-257-2642 at least five days prior to your service date. If you are requesting a sign language interpreter, it is possible that your service date will be rescheduled to the next available date for an interpreter. You will be notified of any changes.
What are the qualifications to become a juror?
Qualifications for jury service are established by California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 203, and are outlined below. If you find that you are not qualified to serve, please complete the portion of your summons titled "Not Qualified." Affidavits must be received by the jury office at least three working days prior to your service. Otherwise, you are expected to be available as scheduled with disqualification to be determined by the Judge.
You will only hear back from the court if your request is denied.
Be a citizen of the United States.
Be at least 18 years of age.
Be a resident of Amador County.
Have sufficient understanding of the English language.
Have had your rights reinstated if convicted of a felony or malfeasance.
YOU MUST NOT:
Be currently serving as a Grand Juror.
Be under Court appointed conservatorship.
Have been convicted of a felony or malfeasance in office.
Be a Peace Officer pursuant to 830.1(a) or 830.2(b)(c) of the Penal Code,
excluding correctional officers, CYA Employees and retired officers.
How can I request a postponement?
Jury staff will be as flexible as possible when scheduling jurors for jury service. However, jury service may mean rearranging your schedule, cancelling appointments, and missing work.
If your summoned date is not convenient, you may request one postponement for a period of up to 90 days. (Students and Teachers may be rescheduled to the next school break. Breastfeeding mothers may be postponed for a period of up to one year.)
To request a postponement, please complete the portion of your summons titled "Request for an Excuse or One Time Postponement." The jury office must receive the affidavit at least three working days prior to your service, Otherwise, you are expected to be available as scheduled. You will only hear back from the court if your request is denied.
Can I be excused from Jury Duty?
California Rule of Court, Rule 2.1008, specifies the grounds on which the Jury Commissioner's Office is allowed to excuse jurors from jury service. Postponing jury service is preferred to excusing a prospective juror. Inconvenience to a prospective juror or employer is not an adequate reason to be excused from jury duty. Requests must be made in writing and supported with facts and/or appropriate documentation.
To request an excuse, follow the instructions and complete the portion of your summons titled "Request to be Excused". The jury office must receive affidavits at least three working days prior to your service. Otherwise, you are expected to be available as scheduled. You will only hear back from the Court if your request is denied.
Can I get proof of attendance for my employer?
When you are released from court you may report to the jury office and request a work certificate. This letter will list all days of service.
Is there a dress code?
Please dress appropriately for the courtroom. Business or casual attire is suggested. Shorts and tank tops are not acceptable. Any juror not appropriately dressed will be excused to return the next court day in appropriate attire. The temperature of the jury assembly area and courtrooms can be unpredictable. Jurors are encouraged to dress accordingly.
How is the actual jury selected?
The first twelve to eighteen names on a random list of jurors will be called. These people will take seats in a jury box. The rest of you will remain seated in the courtroom. The judge will explain what the case is about and introduce the lawyers and parties to you. All prospective jurors will be required to agree to truthfully answer all questions asked.
Next, the judge and/or attorneys will question each one of you seated in the jury box to find out if you would be an appropriate juror in the particular case. If you were asked to complete a Voir Dire Questionnaire, they will use it to help them pose appropriate questions.
An attorney may "challenge you for cause". This means the attorney will ask the judge to excuse you from the jury for a specific legal reason. Each lawyer has an unlimited number of challenges for cause. Each attorney also has the right to a certain number of "peremptory" challenges. That is, the attorney may ask that you be excused without giving any reason at all. If this happens, do not take it personally. The lawyer is merely exercising a right given by law. Once excused, report to the jury office for any entitled mileage reimbursement.
After the required number of jurors has been chosen, the jury panel is sworn to try the case.