What to expect as a juror

The right to a trial by jury is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Oregon. Jury service is an important part of our heritage and a crucial piece of a government of the people, by the people and for the people


Jury service is a significant civic responsibility and a basic duty of citizenship. People are entitled to a jury of their peers, and therefore juries must represent a cross-section of the community. All adult citizens are called on to give their time. To serve as a juror, you do not need any special knowledge or a certain set of skills. Serving as a juror does require you to have an open mind and to be willing to set aside personal feelings and biases so that you can act with impartiality.


Each county in Oregon sets its own procedures regarding jury service for its state trial court, including the length of time for the jury service. Specific information about a particular county’s jury-related procedures can often be found on that county’s circuit court website. Links to specific circuit court websites can be found on the following Oregon Judicial Department web page:
http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/jurorinfo/index.page.


If you are called to serve jury duty, you will receive a jury summons. You should carefully read your summons to find out the date(s) you are scheduled to serve and any other details you will need to know about your upcoming jury service. Follow any instructions on your summons, which may include confirming that you plan to appear on the designated date(s). There will also be instructions about how to defer your jury service to another date if it is necessary for you to do so.


On your day(s) of jury service, you will report to the designated location, usually referred to as the jury assembly room, and it is possible that you will be sitting and waiting for an extended period of time before being selected as a prospective juror for a particular trial. You may want to plan ahead and bring a book or magazines to read, a laptop computer, or other items which will give you something to do while you wait. Remember that you will not be able to bring certain items through the security checkpoint at the courthouse door, such as weapons and alcoholic beverages. If you have questions about what kinds of items are permitted and which are prohibited, call the courthouse ahead of time to inquire. You will usually be allowed to leave for lunch and to go home at night. Only in rare cases are jurors kept away from their homes during a trial. Be aware that it is possible that you will not be chosen to serve as a juror on a trial. It is still important for you to attend jury duty in case your services are needed.


When you are selected as a prospective juror for a trial, you will be chosen at random by the court clerk in the jury assembly room. A group of prospective jurors will be instructed to go to the designated courtroom and then a more detailed jury selection process will be conducted in the courtroom by the judge and the lawyers who are involved in the jury trial that is about to begin. If you are selected as a juror for a trial, you will stay in that courtroom for the trial. If you are not selected to serve, you will be instructed to return to the jury assembly room. The court clerk will notify you when you are released from jury service and when you may leave the courthouse.


If you wish to read a more detailed explanation of the ins and outs of jury service, there is a comprehensive guide called the Handbook for Jurors on the Oregon State Bar website:
http://www.osbar.org/public/jurorhandbook.htm.