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Jury Duty Myths and Information
Jury Duty. Two words not many people enjoy hearing. However, this act of service remains just that: a duty, a right and a responsibility. Serving in a jury helps keep our society safe and just.
Every day throughout the state, the trial courts need hundreds of citizens to report to the courthouse for jury duty. The role of a juror places you in the center of Georgia's justice system.
Here are some good things to know about jury duty in Georgia:
- Names for potential jurors do not strictly come from voter registration.
The popular belief that the pool of potential juror names comes only from voter registration records is a myth. Voter registration encompasses just one of the many rosters used by the state to create lists provided to each of the 159 counties. In May, 2011, Governor Deal passed the Jury Reform Bill ultimately creating this statewide jury pool. The Department of Driver Services, the Secretary of the State and the Department of Public Health provide some of the lists used to add or remove potential juror names. Thus, fear of jury duty should not keep you from registering to vote.
- Jurors are used for both civil and criminal cases.
Even though there are a few differences between civil and criminal courts, the role of the jury generally remains the same.
- Jury selection narrows through a process called “voir dire.”
This is a process used by the courts to obtain an unbiased group of people who are truthful and will deliver a clear and just judgment. This basically means that if you are called for jury duty, you will go through a questioning process. This weeds out those who might have connections to the case preventing them from having an unbiased opinion. So even if you're summoned for jury duty, you might not actually hear a case.
- You must meet several qualifications in order to be considered for the jury.
For example, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the county where the case is held, 18 years old or older and understand/speak English. You must not have a mental illness, and you can't be a convicted felon (unless you have had your civil rights restored or have been pardoned).
- Yes, there are ways to be exempt from jury duty.
For example, if you work in a position that is necessary to the public health, are a full-time college, university, or other post-secondary school student, are the primary caregiver for a child 6 years old or younger, are 70 or older or are in certain positions in the military, then you can become exempt from jury duty.
For more information you can always look at Georgia Bar Journal (the new jury standards start on page 13). Also, each county generally provides information specific for that court system, so check with your local county court. Some FAQs from around the state:
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is a content specialist for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, GA with degrees in Visual Communication and History.