Welcome From The Chairperson
Of The Committee On Jury Management
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, Jr.
United States District Court Judge