Why is jury service important?
The United States Constitution guarantees all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin or economic status the right to trial by an impartial jury of one's peers. In order to uphold this guarantee, we need those summoned to participate in the jury process to ensure every citizen's right to have their case decided by an impartial jury selected from a representative pool of prospective jurors.
Who is entitled to a jury trial?
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party in a civil case has the right to a trial by jury. All parties are equal before the law and each is given the same fair and impartial treatment.
What are my duties as a juror?
Your duty as a juror is to weigh all of the evidence and testimony presented to you and to decide the outcome of the case based upon the law, the evidence and in accordance with the instructions given to you by the presiding judge. Your decision must be fair, impartial and free of any bias or prejudice. Jury service is the basis of our judicial system and is essential to the administration of justice.
How are jurors selected for a trial?
After your panel is selected and reports to a courtroom, a process known as voir dire begins. During voir dire, the judge and possibly the attorneys will ask you questions to see if you can keep an open mind and be fair. After you have been questioned, you will either be selected or excused for that particular case. If you are selected, you and the other selected jurors will receive instructions from the judge as to what is expected of you. If you are not selected, you will return to the jury room and may be sent to another courtroom with another panel.
How long does jury service usually last if I am selected?
If you are selected to sit on a jury, the average trial length is two to three days, although trials may be longer or shorter depending upon the facts of the case.
What are the different types of cases I might be selected for?
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil. In a CRIMINAL case, the jury decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In a CIVIL case, the jury decides whether or not money damages should be given and, if given, how much those damages will be.
What should I wear to jury service?
Jurors should dress comfortably, but properly for a courthouse. Shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops and halters are NOT permitted. If you report wearing any of these items, you may be asked to return home, at your own expense, to change into more suitable attire.
Is jury service mandatory?
The United States Constitution and the North Carolina State Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury. Failure to attend as directed may subject you to penalties provided by law. All New Hanover County residents are qualified by state law to serve as a juror unless they:
- Have been adjudged incompetent;
- Are NOT a United States citizen;
- Are NOT a resident of New Hanover County, NC;
- Are UNDER 18 years of age;
- Have been convicted of a felony or offense and have not had their citizenship restored by law;
- Cannot speak or understand the English language
What can I bring with me to jury service?
The jury process can require a juror to wait a considerable amount of time. For this reason, jurors are encouraged to bring a book or other form of reading material with them to the jury assembly room. Jurors may NOT bring cameras, walkmans or radios. Cellular phones and pagers MUST be turned off. The courthouse does provide Wi-Fi service.
Can I bring someone to jury service with me?
No. Only those summoned for jury service are allowed in the jury assembly room. You may have someone escort you to and from jury service, but that person is not allowed to enter the jury assembly room. The jury assembly room is for prospective jurors ONLY.
Are there phones and vending machines in the Judicial Building?
Yes. Pay phones and vending machines are located near the jury assembly room. If you plan to make calls or purchase vending items, please bring enough change. Jury assembly room staff will not be able to provide change. Located on the Ground Level of the Courthouse is a snack bar/coffee shop.