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Browsing in Jury > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


If you are unable to find the answer to your question in Juror Information or the following "Frequently Asked Questions," you may e-mail Juror Services and we will try to respond to your question. If you need an immediate response (within 10 days of the date your service begins), please call the office at 457-1600.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why do I have to serve jury duty?

Q2: Does “One-Trial OR One-Day” jury service mean I only have to serve for one day?

Q3: When I report, how long should I plan on being there?

Q4: How many days do I have to serve?

Q5: The nature of my job (truck driver, graveyard shift, etc.) makes it difficult to call in for five consecutive days. What can I do?

Q6: How do names get selected to be summoned for jury duty?

Q7: Why can’t the public volunteer for jury service?

Q8: Why do I get called for jury service every year, while my neighbor, friends, etc. never get called?

Q9: Can I postpone my jury service to a more convenient date?

Q10: Can I advance my jury service?

Q11: How can I be excused from jury duty?

Q12: My occupation makes it difficult to serve; may I be excused from jury duty?

Q13: I am a business owner and my business shuts down if I’m not there, can I be excused?

Q14: I am a student; may I be excused from jury duty?

Q15: I received a summons for jury service, but I just served less than a year ago. Can I be excused?

Q16: How often do I have to serve?

Q17: Isn’t there an age limit for jury service?

Q18: My doctor submitted a medical excuse for me on my summons last year. Why do I have to submit another one for this year?

Q19: My request for excuse was denied, what do I do now?

Q20: My request was denied for additional information, what does that mean?

Q21: I lost my summons and don’t know when I’m supposed to report, what can I do?

Q22: What will happen if I do not respond to a jury summons?

Q23: I am not sure whom the summons belongs to in my family. We have the same name?

Q24: My address is incorrect on the summons. How do I submit a change of address?

Q25: How can I speak to a real person?

Q26: My employer pays an unlimited number of days for jury duty. Does that mean that I will be called more often than other employees?

Q27: Will I be paid when I report for jury duty?

Q28: How is mileage calculated/determined?

Q29: What can I bring when I report?

Q30: What should I wear to court?

Q31: Is there any special way I must act in court?

Q32: What happens if I'm late and can't get to the court before the time the trial starts?

Q33: Is it all right for me to take notes during the trial?

Q34: May jurors ask questions during the trial or deliberations?



 

Q1: Why do I have to serve jury duty?
A: According to the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) 191 “The Legislature recognizes that trial by jury is a cherished constitutional right, and that jury service is an obligation of citizenship”. Jury duty is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.  You are qualified to serve as a juror if you can answer yes to the following statements:

  • I am a citizen of the United States
  • I am 18 years of age or older
  • I am a resident of Fresno County
  • I can speak and understand the English language
  • I have not been convicted of a felony or I have been convicted but my civil rights have been restored
  • I am not a peace officer as defined in Penal Code section 830.1, 830.2(a) or 830.33(a)
  • I have not served as a grand juror or trial juror within the last twelve months
  • I am not the subject of a conservatorship (a conservator is appointed by court order)

Q2: Does “One-Trial OR One-Day” jury service mean I only have to serve for one day?
A: No. If assigned to a courtroom on the day you report for jury duty, you are required to follow the court’s appearance instructions for the trial to which you have been assigned until released by the court.  Barring unusual circumstances, you should be released from jury duty for a one-year period if not assigned to a courtroom by the end of the day that you appear for duty.

Q3: When I report, how long should I plan on being there?
A: Plan on at least one full day, longer if assigned to a trial.  Most trials average 5 to 7 days.  Court hours are generally 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Q4: How many days do I have to serve?
A: It depends on whether you are selected on a jury panel. Jurors summoned to the Downtown Fresno location are on telephone standby for one week and may be instructed to call for reporting instructions numerous times over a one-week period. In the alternative, jurors summoned to the Fresno location may report on a specific day of their summoned week, Monday through Thursday at 8:30 a.m. This can be scheduled once you have received your summons by using your juror badge and PIN number in the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system.
Jurors summoned to other Fresno County court locations are normally required to call the night before their service begins. If not required to report, jury service is completed. If asked to report and not assigned to a courtroom on that day, the term of service will be completed. If selected on a case, jurors serve until released by the court. The average trial is 5 to 7 days.

Q5: The nature of my job (truck driver, graveyard shift, etc.) makes it difficult to call in for five consecutive days. What can I do?
A: If standby telephone service does not work for you, jurors summoned to the Downtown Fresno location have the option to report on a specific day of their summoned week, Monday through Thursday at 8:30 a.m.  This can be scheduled once you have received your summons by using your juror badge and PIN number in the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system.

Q6: How do names get selected to be summoned for jury duty?
A: Juror records are obtained from both lists of Voters Registration and the Department of Motor Vehicles licensed drivers/identification cardholders.  This merged information, once purged of duplicates, makes up the “jury pool” from which jurors are randomly summoned. We receive our juror information twice yearly from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Voters Registration. If you change your name or address you will need to notify DMV and Voter Registration for us to receive your correct information in the future.  Please remember that we receive the information exactly as it is listed with these agencies, any differences between the two records may result in a duplicate summons. 

Q7: Why can’t the public volunteer for jury service?
A: The California Civil Code of Procedures states, “All persons selected for jury service shall be selected at random, from a source or sources inclusive of a representative cross-section of the population of the area served by the court”.  While this court would like to accept volunteers, it would violate the “randomness” provision of this code.  In other words, the law does not allow us to accept volunteers.

Q8: Why do I get called for jury service every year, while my neighbor, friends, etc. never get called?
A: There could be a variety of reasons why your neighbors, friends, etc. have not been summoned or selected for jury duty. Possibly their name just has not been selected from our jury pool of names yet, or for various reasons the individual may not be qualified to serve on jury duty. Because potential jurors are selected completely by random, we have no control over whether a particular juror is selected every year for service, or every 10 years.

Q9: Can I postpone my jury service to a more convenient date?
A: Yes. You may postpone your service using the juror badge and PIN number printed on your summons.  This can be done in the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system. You may postpone your service as many times as you need to provided that you not exceed a nine (9) month period.  We recommend that you select a date within six (6) months from your original service date.  A new summons will be sent to you approximately four (4) weeks prior to your new date of service. Postponement requests beyond nine months from the original service date are not allowed within the automated system.  Under certain circumstances the court can grant another extension but in no case can the postponement go beyond a period of one year from the original service date.

Q10: Can I advance my jury service?
A: Depending on the court location you’ve been summoned to it may be possible to advance your jury service date.  Contact the Juror Services Division at (559) 457-1600 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Q11: How can I be excused from jury duty?
A: Requests to be excused must be submitted in writing and are subject to review. A disqualification or excuse from jury duty must adhere to strict legal guidelines as allowed by law and may be submitted by completing the disqualification or excuse section of the summons.  You will only be notified by mail if your request is denied.  The status of a submitted request can be checked by using your juror badge and PIN number within the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system.

Q12: My occupation makes it difficult to serve; may I be excused from jury duty?
A: Pursuant to the Civil Code of Procedure 219 only Peace Officers as defined by Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2(a) and 830.33(a) are exempt from serving as a juror on civil or criminal matters.  Peace Officers as defined by Penal Code section 830.2, subdivisions (b) and (c) are exempt from serving as a juror on criminal matters.  Other than these narrowly defined exemptions, Civil Code of Procedure 204 states, “No eligible person shall be exempt from service as a trial juror by reason of occupation, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status, or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.”  While we understand that there are some occupations that make it difficult to serve as a juror, it is very important that each jury panel represent a cross-section of our community.  In other words, the law requires that every eligible person participate in jury service when summoned. 

Q13: I am a business owner and my business shuts down if I’m not there, may I be excused?
A: No. You may postpone to a more convenient time to help you plan ahead or make arrangements but the law does not provide an exemption for business owners from jury service.  The State of California has a One-Trial OR One-Day term of service, meaning that barring unusual circumstances, you should be released from jury duty for a one-year period if not assigned to a courtroom by the end of the day that you appear for duty. Once assigned to a courtroom and placed in the jury box you will have an opportunity to state your hardship to the court that may or may not determine that you qualify for a hardship under the statutory guidelines.

Q14: I am a student; may I be excused from jury duty?
A: No. Full or part-time student status does not qualify as an excuse from service. You may postpone your jury duty to a time when you have school breaks.

Q15: I received a summons for jury service, but I just served less than a year ago. May I be excused?
A: Yes. Complete the summons and request to be excused based on your previous service including the badge number or the name you served under, if different from the summons you just received.  We receive your name from the Voters Registration and the Department of Motor Vehicles. If for some reason your name varies in any way (e.g., Bob Smith vs. Robert Smith), our computer will not recognize these records as being the same person. Another reason you could be summoned twice is if your address or date of birth varies on the DMV list from the Voters Registration list.  We receive updated juror information twice yearly from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Voters Registration. You will need to reconcile the differences at the source to prevent this from occurring in the future.

Q16: How often do I have to serve?
A: There is no limit to the number of times that you may serve in a lifetime; however, you are only obligated to serve jury duty once every 12 months.  After serving you are excused for one year, at the end of the year your name will go back into the pool for the possibility of again being summoned at random.

Q17: Isn’t there an age limit for jury service?
A: As long as you are 18 years or older, we will not excuse you from jury service for your age. Excusing a person based on age would be a form of age discrimination.

Q18: My doctor submitted a medical excuse for me on my summons last year. Why do I have to submit another one for this year?
A: Each medical excuse applies only to the specific jury summons for which it has been submitted and is granted for a one-year period.  Permanent excuses for medical reasons are subject to review and are rarely granted.  All medical excuses must be signed by a physician.  Notes signed by physician assistants, audiologists, physical therapists and other medical assistants cannot be accepted. Jurors 70 years of age and older may be excused for medical reasons upon their written request and are not required to submit a note from their doctor.

Q19: My request for excuse was denied, what do I do now?
A: You will need to report for jury duty as instructed in your summons. If you have a question regarding the reason for the denial call the Juror Services Division Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and press zero to speak to staff.  You may be eligible for a postponement and, if so, you can postpone your service by using your juror badge and PIN number within the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system.

Q20: My request was denied pending additional information.  What does that mean?
A: You may qualify for an excuse or disqualification but not all the necessary information was provided to the court to make the determination.  Please resubmit the excuse in writing and include more information or call the office and speak to staff to find out what additional information is needed.

Q21: I lost my summons and don’t know when I’m supposed to report.  What can I do?
A: Contact Juror Services staff at (559) 457-1600 during normal business hours, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to speak to staff who will be able to check your status and provide you with your juror badge and PIN number.

Q22: What will happen if I do not respond to a jury notice?
A: If less than two (2) weeks have passed since the report date and you are eligible for a postponement, you may postpone using the automated phone system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system. If ineligible for a postponement or more than two (2) weeks have passed, you must report for service to the Downtown Fresno Courthouse any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 8:30 a.m. to satisfy your service.   Failure to do so can result in an Order to Show Cause Re: Contempt hearing, which can result in an issuance of a $1,000.00 fine and a jail sentence not to exceed five (5) days.

Q23: I am not sure whom the summons belongs to in my family. We have the same name?
A: Please call the Juror Services Division at (559) 457-1600 to verify which member of the family the summons belongs to. You will need to supply us with the badge number so that we can check the date of birth.

Q24: My address is incorrect on the summons. How do I submit a change of address?
A: You can submit your change of address when you report for jury duty or call the office at (559) 457-1600 during normal business hours.  We receive our juror information twice yearly from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Voters Registration.  You will need to change your address at the source to ensure that we receive your correct information in the future.

Q25: How can I speak to a real person?
A: Monday morning is the busiest day for phone calls and the wait time will be longer.  If possible, call in the afternoon. Please remember that many questions and some transactions may be handled by using your juror badge and PIN number in our automated system at (559) 457-1600 or by clicking on Badge Number Instructions when using the Internet system.

Q26: My employer pays an unlimited number of days for jury duty. Does that mean that I will be called more often than other employees?
A: No. Jury selection is a random process. When you are summoned for jury duty we have no way of knowing who your employer is, or the number of days that your employer pays for jury service.

Q27: Will I be paid when I report for jury duty?
A: Juror pay and mileage is determined by the California Legislature.  Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 215, jurors are paid at the rate of $15.00 per day plus one-way mileage beginning the second day of service.  Mileage is paid at the rate of .34 cents per mile one-way.  Jurors do not receive juror pay or mileage for the first day.

Q28: How is mileage calculated/determined?
A: The distance is automatically calculated from the farthest distance within the jurors’ zipcode area to the court.

Q29: What can I bring when I report?
A: Bring a book or something to read.  Sometimes there is a period of waiting before jurors are sent to a courtroom. Cell phones are permitted, as long as they are turned off or on silent mode while in the courtroom.  Food and beverages are allowed in the Jury Assembly Room of the downtown Fresno location courthouse but you cannot bring them into the main lobby of the courthouse or into the B.F. Sisk Courthouse.  Water fountains are located by the restrooms on each floor. Be sure to leave any items at home or in your car that are not allowed into the courthouse (such as knives-even the smallest of pocket knives, tear gas, pepper spray, stun guns, knitting needles, nail clippers, metal nail files, scissors, handcuff keys or tools of any kind including retractable measuring tapes).

Q30: What should I wear to court?
A: When reporting for jury duty, appropriate business attire is required. Tank tops and bare midriffs are examples of inappropriate attire.

Q31: Is there any special way I must act in court?
A: You should conduct yourself as you would at any serious and important event. You should be courteous at all times. It is important that you remain alert when the court is in session. You may bring a book or magazine to read while you are waiting for court to begin or during recess, but please do not read while court is in session.

Q32: What happens if I'm late and can't get to the court before the time the trial starts?
A: The trial can't continue unless everyone is there. Each juror must hear all the evidence. If you're late, the judge, lawyers, court assistants, witnesses, and all the other jurors must wait for you. Although there may be delays caused by any number of reasons it is very important for jurors to be on time. Please phone the court at once if you're unavoidably detained.

Q33: Is it all right for me to take notes during the trial?
A: You may take notes, but you should not become so involved in note taking that you miss the nature of the witness' testimony and important points of the testimony. All trial notes must be left at the courthouse.

Q34: May jurors ask questions during the trial or deliberations?
A: If you have a question, write it on a piece of paper and ask the bailiff or court attendant to hand it to the judge. The judge will respond appropriately, by writing a note back or answering directly from the bench, or the judge may indicate that it is not proper to answer the question at that time.


Jury service is both a privilege and a constitutional right for all U.S. citizens to participate when called. Both the U.S. and California Constitutions guarantee the right to a jury trial, an essential part of our democratic form of government. The United States of America is the only country in the world that guarantees the right to a jury trial in both criminal and civil cases.
The most important decisions made in the courthouse week in and week out are not made by judges, but by jurors.  Time spent on jury service is not time wasted, but time invested in preserving and protecting a process that has been here to protect us all for over 200 years.

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man,
by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

-Thomas Jefferson