If you are called for jury duty, you will have many
questions – from where you should report to what will happen during a
trial if you are chosen to serve. Most of the process is set by state law;
some by local court rules. What you read here will hopefully answer most
of your questions and explain some of the court processes.
The day before you are scheduled for jury duty you
are to call the extension listed on your summons. You can call this
extension after 12:00 noon the day prior to service. If you are summoned
for a Monday or Tuesday, because Monday is a holiday, you can call the
Friday before after 12:00 noon. If only part of the group summoned is
needed it will state what sequence numbers are required to appear. The
sequence number is located in the outlined Blue Juror Badge under Seq#,
located to the right of the section stating your appearance date and
time. Please listen carefully to the recording as it will also confirm
the time you are required to appear. The time on the summons can change
to a later time, so please listen to the entire recording. If you are
ordered to appear you are required to bring your entire summons with the “Juror
If ordered to report please read the information
If you did not report on the date specified for your
sequence number you must contact the Jury Commissioner’s Office
immediately at (559) 582-1010 extension 5041 or 5042. You may also appear
at the Jury Commissioner’s Office at 1426 South Drive, Building B, Hanford, CA.
Are You Late?
Contact the Jury Commissioner's office as soon as you know you are
going to be late at (559) 582-1010 extension 5041 or 5042. If you appear
late, you will be rescheduled to another Jury day.
purses, and packages entering the courthouse may be screened for weapons.
All knives and guns are prohibited. All forms of tear gas and pepper spray
are prohibited in the building, even with a permit. Items such as large
shears (longer than seven inches), metal knitting needles, carpet knives
or any item that can be used as a weapon are also prohibited. Leave those items at home or in your car, if confiscated, they will not be returned. You may be
asked to remove your shoes if you wear shoes with steel in them, such as
The Kings Superior Court operates on a One Trial/One
Once instructed to report to the courthouse, you 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. The jury staff tries to carefully estimate the number
of jurors needed but there are many variables outside their control. For
example, a defendant may plea to a different charge or a case may settle
at the last moment. You may want to bring something to occupy your time in
case of delays.
If you are selected to serve on a trial as a sworn
juror, your term of service will be the length of that trial. Trials vary
in length, but generally last two to three days.
If you are not selected to serve on a trial by the
end of your first day at the courthouse, and the judge has not ordered you
to return for another day of jury selection; you have completed your jury
service. Approximately 80% of our prospective jurors complete their
service in one day.
Once you arrive at the Government Complex, proceed to
the two-story courthouse, located at the West end of the complex. The
Jury Assembly Room is located on the 1st floor of the two-story
courthouse, 1426 South Drive, Building B. Have your summons on your person, “Juror
Profile” completed to present to the clerk to check in. Jury staff
will provide instructions, and conduct orientation. Listen carefully to
the information and all instructions.
Throughout the day, jury staff will be randomly
selecting jurors and assigning them to a particular case and courtroom.
If your name is selected, you will be given further instructions as to
where to go and what to do.
When you have completed your jury service you may
report back to the Jury Commissioner’s Office and request a “Work
Confirmation” form to present to your employer. If you forget to obtain
the form before leaving you can call the jury staff at (559)582-1010
extension 5041 or 5042 and they will be happy to fax a copy to you
directly or to your employer. If your employer requests a daily account
of your attendance, you can pick up a form each day.
Jury Selection: Once you report to a
courtroom, you and the other potential jurors will be escorted into the
courtroom by a bailiff. 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 the 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.
Voir dire questioning may take more than one day.
Carefully follow the directions of the judge and courtroom staff regarding
date and time to return. If you are going to be late, immediately contact
the clerk of the courtroom to which you have been assigned and explain
your situation. Remember, the trial cannot proceed until everyone is
present. If you do not have a good excuse, the judge may fine you for
Occasionally, issues arise in trial preparation or
events occur during a trial which could not be anticipated. When this
happens, the judge and the parties may need to address the matter outside
of your presence. You should not speculate about what is going on. Rest
assured that the judge respects your time and will make every effort not to waste it.
Challenges: 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. If you
are excused for any reason, return to the jury assembly room for further
After the required number of jurors has been chosen,
the jury panel is sworn to try the case.
Dress Code and Code of Conduct
Be alert and courteous. You may bring a book to read
while you are waiting for court to begin, or during recesses, but you will
not be permitted to read while court is in session. If you have a pager or
a cellular phone, you must turn it off
while court is in session. 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 and
postponed to another court day to return in appropriate attire. The
temperature of the jury assembly area and courtrooms can be
unpredictable. Jurors are encouraged to dress accordingly.
What to expect if sworn as a Juror
Admonishment: 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
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
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
Generally speaking, evidence can come in the form of
testimony given by sworn 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.
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 consider it when deliberating.
The judge decides what evidence is proper or admissible. The
judge must apply the rules of evidence according to the law. Although the
judge decides what 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.
Instructions to the Jury
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.
In the Jury Deliberation Room
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 jury’s service will
then be complete in most cases.
Parties involved in a case generally seek to settle their differences
to avoid the expense, time and risks of a trial. Sometimes the case is
settled or resolved just a few moments before the trial begins or even
during the course of a trial. Jurors may have already been assigned to a
case and may be asked to wait while last minute negotiations are taking
place. Your time is not wasted – your very presence in the court
case does settle and the judge releases you, return to the jury assembly
room for further instruction. Your name may be put back in the random pool
for assignment to another case that day.