Frequently Asked Questions About Jury Service

 

Where did you get my name for jury service?

The United States District Court-Middle District of Florida's "Plan for the Qualification and Selection of Grand and Petit Jurors" revised October 22, 2009, directs that voter registration lists shall be the primary source lists for filling the divisional master jury wheels. Every odd-numbered year, prospective jurors are selected randomly from the voter registration lists in the respective counties and their names are put into what is known as the divisional "Master Jury Wheel". Prospective jurors are then sent a juror qualification questionnaire. This questionnaire must be completed and returned to the Court to verify that the juror is qualified for jury service. Those individuals who "qualify" for service may eventually be summoned to report for service.

Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender?

Race and gender are not factors in determining eligibility to serve as a juror. Federal law requires a prospective juror to indicate his/her race. This information is required solely to avoid discrimination in juror selection and has absolutely no bearing on qualifications for jury service. By answering this question, you help the federal court ensure that discrimination cannot occur during the juror selection process.

What does "on call" mean?

Jurors for the United States District Court-Middle District of Florida will be expected to be available to appear at the courthouse whenever instructed during their term of service. This does not mean that the juror will actually report in person at the courthouse every day, but rather, the juror is expected to call in as instructed and be ready to appear when directed to do so.

If I submit a request to be excused, do I still need to complete the Juror Information Card?

Yes. Even if you have been excused, you must return the completed form.

May I call the Court to be excused?

No. All requests to be excused must be in writing. A decision will be made as promptly as possible. You may check on the status of your request via the automated jury information system (AJIS) at 1-866-313-2350 after 5-7 business days have elapsed since sending your request in to the Court. The only time that you should call the Jury Staff regarding an excuse is when you have a last-minute emergency that cannot be handled through the mail.

What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my term?

Advise the Jury Staff in advance so that allowances can be made for such matters. In many instances, the Court can make arrangements to defer jurors to less inconvenient times. However, such requests must be made prior to the first day of jury service.

If I am serving on a jury, will I get breaks?

Yes. Your trial judge will tell you what schedule he or she expects to follow throughout the trial.

What about emergencies?

It is important that jurors report when they are required to and are prompt. Absences may delay or even jeopardize trials. If jurors are faced with an emergency such as a sudden illness or a death in the family, they should follow the instructions that they were given by the Court. If they are unable to do so, they should telephone the Jury Staff in the division where their jury service is to take place.

In addition, if there is an emergency and someone needs to contact you during your service, they may call the Jury Staff in the division where your jury service is to take place and a message will be delivered to you promptly. Please have them specify that you are on jury duty.

Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?

Yes. Under federal law, employers must allow their employees time off for jury duty. An employee cannot be punished in any way for serving as a juror. Your employer, however, has discretion as to whether absence for jury duty is with or without pay.

When I have completed my service as a juror, will I be called again to serve?

The Court’s pool of juror names (the divisional “Master Jury Wheel”) is replenished on every odd-numbered year. It is unlikely you would be in the next pool but if you are, you may request excusal. See #2 at the table entitled GROUNDS FOR REQUESTING PERMANENT EXCUSE.

I don't live in the county where the Court is located, why was I selected as a prospective juror?

The United States District Court-Middle District of Florida consists of five divisions: Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Ocala, Orlando, and Tampa. Jurors are drawn from the 35 counties which make up the Middle District of Florida. The federal courthouse for the division that includes your home county may be located in a different county. However, you will most likely be asked to serve in the division closest to your home.

How will I receive payment for my jury service?

Juror checks will be mailed to the home address provided by the juror when appearing for jury service. Checks are mailed approximately 4-6 weeks after completion of jury service.

What is the Automated Jury Information System?

The Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) enables the Court to provide specific, last-minute recorded information pertaining to the trial you have been called to serve; there is no attendant at this number. Generally you will be instructed to call in at a specific time (see your summons) on a specific night and the message will advise you to report as directed, that there has been a change in court's schedule, or to call back in again at another designated date/time.

You do not have to call AJIS every night you are serving on a trial unless you are specifically instructed by the judge to do so.

AJIS toll free number = 1-866-313-2350


NEW AJIS FEATURE - Checking Your Status Online


The United States District Court-Middle District of Florida is now providing its jurors with the opportunity to access their personalized reporting instructions via the Internet. A companion product to the AJIS phone messaging system (outlined above) has been installed, and jurors across the district may now read their individual reporting instructions over the Internet. By using the link below, jurors must enter their 9-digit participant number from the front of their summons and their zip codes. This information will be available to jurors 24/7, just as with the telephone system. The personalized reporting instructions for the juror will be the same whether accessed by phone or by computer.

To use this new feature, please click on the link below. Enter your participant number and zip code in the Web Prompt Page, and then click on Reporting Instructions button at the bottom of the page.

Check Your Status


As always, if you have any questions about either the AJIS telephone or AJIS Internet systems, please feel free to telephone the Jury Staff in the division where your jury service is to take place.

What is the difference between a petit juror and a grand juror?

In brief, a petit juror serves on a criminal or civil trial. A petit jury determines issues of fact, applies the law as instructed by the Judge, and deliberates to reach a verdict. A grand juror serves on a grand jury to determine whether facts and accusations presented by the U.S. Attorney warrant an indictment in a criminal case.

Who is the contact person if I have additional questions?

You may call the Jury Staff at the numbers shown below.


USDC-MDFL Jury Staff:
 Ft. Myers:  Sheri Pastula  239-461-2010
 Jacksonville:  Brandon Williams  904-549-6001
 Ocala:  Lisa Fannin/Maurya McSheehy  352-369-4865
 Orlando:  Ana Reyes  407-835-4330
 Tampa:  Pamela Layton  813-301-5452

I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire - do I have to fill it out?

Please take a few moments to complete the Juror Exit Questionnaire given to you by the Jury Staff. The purpose of the questionnaire is to help us make jury service a more positive experience for those who are summoned for jury service for the United States District Court-Middle District of Florida. After completing the questionnaire, you may leave it with the Jury Staff or mail to the address on the reverse side. The United States District Court-Middle District of Florida also allows jurors to submit Juror Exit Questionnaires electronically.

Juror Exit Questionnaire Form