Welcome to Jury Service in the Middle District of Florida. If you have clicked
your way to this page, you must be interested in jury service, probably
because you were served with a summons. I believe that you will find your
time spent as a juror both satisfying and rewarding.
You may be wondering why we have jury trials in this country. We inherited
much of our law from England and, as you may recall from history, the people
of England did not like the justice dispensed by the King and
his representatives. They wanted a trial by their peers. That right was
finally guaranteed to them by the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, which
provided that no one shall be imprisoned unless by the lawful judgment
of his peers.
That same right to
trial by our peers is guaranteed to us by both the United States Constitution
and the State of Florida Constitution. In the United States Constitution,
it is found in the Sixth Amendment which states:
In all criminal
prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public
trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime
shall have been committed, which districts shall have been previously
ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have
compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have
the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
So, defendants in
criminal cases (and parties in most civil cases) are entitled to a jury
trial. It is incumbent upon the government to find jurors to fill this
role. Jurors are selected at random from the geographical area in which
the Court sits. For example, for the Tampa division of the Middle District
of Florida, jurors are selected at random from the voting rolls of Pasco,
Pinellas, Polk, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
If you have received a summons, that is because you are one of those persons
chosen to fulfill this very important purpose. When you arrive at the
Courthouse, you will receive instructions about possible selection as
a trial juror for a specific trial. While trials can last anywhere from
one day to several months, most trials last two to four days. If you have
a problem during a particular service period, generally the Courts are
able to work around your specific problem or conflict.
It is your right to
serve as a juror and that right is protected by law. You will not be discriminated
against on the basis of race, sex, or religion in the selection process.
Your participation, as well as that of other citizens, is vitally important
to the judicial process. It makes our judicial system an open one which
enhances public confidence in the justice system, anchors our government
to the Constitution, and secures our liberties.
Some of the cases
may be more challenging or more enjoyable than others, but all are important
to our system of justice. Your participation is vital to the continued
availability of jury trials. Without you, and people like you who are
willing to serve, we could not have jury trials in this country.
I look forward to
having you serve here in the Middle District of Florida.
James S. Moody,
United States District Court Judge