How can I contact the Jury Commissioners Office?
The Jury Office is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During business hours, jurors may call (760) 482-2259 to speak with a staff member. The Jury Office fax number is (760) 482-4499. The Jury Commissioners office is located in the west wing of the basement of the El Centro Courthouse. Access ramp is available at the southwest basement entry. The El Centro Courthouse is located at:Superior Court 939 Main Street El Centro, California 92243
Where does the Superior Court obtain names of prospective jurors?
The list of potential jurors is a compilation of data from the Imperial County Registrar of Voter and California DMV lists. Names are randomly selected from the master list for possible service as a juror.
I can no longer fulfill my duties as a juror. Can't you take my name from your records? Under certain circumstances, such as permanent mental or physical disability. Call the jury room and the jury staff can help you with the procedures that are needed to accomplish this.
I am not a citizen of the United States but I would still like to serve as a juror. Why can't I? The law automatically disqualifies non-citizens, convicted felons whose civil rights have not been restored, and people under 18 years of age from jury service.
Why is jury service important?
The United States Constitution guarantees all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin or economic status the right to trial by an impartial jury of one's peers. In order to uphold this guarantee, we need those summoned to participate in the jury process to ensure every citizen's right to have their case decided by an impartial jury selected from a representative pool of prospective jurors.
Who is entitled to a jury trial?
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party in a civil case has the right to a trial by jury. All parties are equal before the law and each is given the same fair and impartial treatment.
What are my duties as a juror?
Your duty as a juror is to weigh all of the evidence and testimony presented to you and to decide the outcome of the case based upon the law and the evidence. Your decision must be fair, impartial and free of any bias or prejudice. Jury service is the basis of our judicial system and is essential to the administration of justice.
How are jurors selected for a trial?
After your panel is selected and reports to a courtroom, a process known as voir dire begins. During voir dire, the judge and possibly the attorneys will ask you questions to see if you can keep an open mind and be fair. After you have been questioned, you will either be selected or excused for that particular case. If you are selected, you and the other selected jurors will receive instructions from the judge as to what is expected of you. If you are not selected, you will return to the jury room and may be sent to another courtroom with another panel.
How long does jury service usually last if I am selected?
If you are selected to sit on a jury, the average trial length is two to three days, although trials may be longer or shorter depending upon the facts of the case.
What are the different types of cases I might be selected for?
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil. In a CRIMINAL case, the jury decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In a CIVIL case, the jury decides whether or not money damages should be given and, if given, how much those damages will be.
What should I wear to jury service?
Jurors should dress comfortably, but properly for a courthouse. Shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops and halters are NOT permitted. If you report wearing any of these items, you may be asked to return home, at your own expense, to change into more suitable attire.
Is jury service mandatory?
The United States Constitution and the California State Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury. Failure to attend as directed may subject you to penalties provided by law. All Imperial County residents are obligated by state law to serve as a juror unless they:
- Are NOT a United States citizen;
- Are NOT a resident of Imperial County, California
- Are UNDER 18 years of age;
What can I bring with me to jury service?
The jury process can require a juror to wait a considerable amount of time. For this reason, jurors are encouraged to bring a book or other form of reading material with them to the jury assembly room. Jurors may NOT bring cameras, walkmans or radios. Cellular phones and pagers MUST be turned off.
Can I bring someone to jury service with me?
No. Only those summoned for jury service are allowed in the jury assembly room. You may have someone escort you to and from jury service, but that person is not allowed to enter the jury assembly room. The jury assembly room is for prospective jurors ONLY.
What happens if I do not show up for jury service?
Failure to appear for jury service when summoned is a serious matter. You may be held in contempt of court and could be fined and/or imprisoned. It is in your best interest to appear if you are summoned to avoid any further action.
Are there phones and vending machines in the jury room?
Yes. Pay phones and vending machines are located near the jury assembly room. If you plan to make calls or purchase vending items, please bring enough change. Jury assembly room staff will not be able to provide change.
Pay for jury service:
Will I be compensated for jury duty?
Yes. You will be paid $15.00 per day and 34 cents per mile one way from home to court beginning on the second day of service.
Must my employer pay me while I'm on jury service?
No. An employer is NOT required by law to pay employees who are on jury service but many employers do. You should check with your company's human resources department before serving to see if your company pays your salary for days you are a juror. If you DO receive your salary while on jury service, you should ask what your employer requires as proof that you served as a juror.
Can my employer fire me for performing jury service?
No. According to California law, "No employer shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest or jury trial, if the employee prior to taking time off, gives reasonable notice to the employer that he or she is required to serve" - Labor Code 230
Excuse from Service:
A prospective juror may be excused if he/she:
- Has a physical or mental disability that would prevent him/her from serving. The prospective juror will be required to provide a doctor's note verifying the disability.
- Must provide actual and necessary care for another and alternate arrangements are not feasible. (Employment as a caregiver does not qualify)
- Is unable to read or understand the English language.
- Over 70 years of age
- Has custody of child under 10 years of age and service would leave the child without adequate supervision.
- Is a student of public or private secondary school or enrolled and in attendance at an institution of higher education(OUT OF COUNTY or Over 1.5hr driving).
- Is an employee of the legislative branch of state government. (Not exempt if a staff in law enforcement or department of corrections).
- Active military out of county.
Anyone 18 years of age or older who is a United States citizen and a resident of Imperial County and who has not been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and has not been granted a pardon or amnesty.Each request is individually reviewed. Potential jurors are encouraged to complete the request truthfully, to the best of their knowledge. Failure to do so is against the law. Jury service is a citizen's civic duty, and responsibility.
I am unable to judge anyone because of my moral or religious beliefs. May I be excused? California law does not provide for an excuse from jury service for moral or religious beliefs. You are still required to appear for jury service. When you get to a courtroom, the judge will make that decision.
I know that I will not be selected to be on a jury because of what I do for a living. Why not excuse me now and save time?
Imperial County tries civil and criminal cases, both of which require juries. The random selection process prevents you from knowing in advance what trial or even what type of trial for which you'll be selected. If when you get to a courtroom the judge excuses you, you've fulfilled your obligation for jury service. But the Jury staff cannot excuse you as a potential juror because of what you do for a living.
What about getting a deferral or postponement?
The Jury Office realizes prospective jurors may have been summoned at an inconvenient time and is willing to defer service to a more convenient time in most instances. Jurors may request a first-time postponement after being summoned via phone (760) 482-2260 or Internet. Jurors may select a new date of their choice, with some limitations as long as the new date is within 90 days of the date on which they were scheduled to appear. Subsequent postponements are not allowed unless it is an extreme emergency that was not anticipated when the first postponement was granted.