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Jury Service

If you have received a jury summons and want to respond to update your information, request a postponement, disqualification or excuse from jury service, go to the Prospective Juror Login website .

If you have a group number and are "on call" this week, to find out when you need to check back or report for service, check the Online Services Jury Duty page, updated daily.

Juror Alert: The Superior Court does not request personal juror information by calling you on the phone. Please see the Security of Juror Information message below. More information can be found on the FBI page on jury scams .

Slideshow on Jury Duty: Watch a 14-minute Juror Orientation Video  prepared by the State Judicial Council.

Click the arrow or "next picture" link under each of the photos to view the slideshow, which covers the process of jury selection, the trial, and jury deliberations afterwards.

Learn about the people you might meet during jury duty, such as the bailiff, court reporter, court clerk, attorneys, and the judge.

Beware of Recent Jury Duty Scam!
For more information, click to read:
SCC Sheriff Press Release  and Jury Scam Alert 

Jury Duty - An Honored Service

The right to a trial by jury is a privilege that applies to both criminal and civil cases and is recognized as the foundation of the American court system, guaranteed by both the United States and California Constitutions. Jury trials cannot be held unless people like you are willing to perform their civic duty. Jurors are essential to the administration of justice.

If you have received a juror summons and want to respond, visit the Prospective Juror Login website . To check on your status for the week you are on call for jury duty, please visit the Online Services Jury Duty page, updated daily.

On the page below you can find information about jury duty, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions about postponing jury service, time off from employment, and more.

Jury Duty Instructions:

  1. Welcome to the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you are selected as a prospective juror, your availability is required until you are excused from the jury selection process. Please arrange your schedule to be available for the week you are on call. If you are selected as a sworn juror or as an alternate juror, you must serve for the duration of the trial, and will need to arrange your schedule accordingly.

  2. During your assigned week you will be on telephone alert. Telephone alert begins after 5:00 p.m. on Friday but before 8:00 a.m. on Monday, the weekend immediately prior to the week you have been summoned for jury duty. You may check your status online by accessing the Online Services Jury Duty page on this website. You may also call our message center anytime between this timeframe. A recorded message will give you further instructions. The telephone number to call is(408) 808-6666 . Please listen carefully to instructions for your juror group number which is located on your summons. You will either hear specific instructions about when your appearance will be required by the court or the time you must call back for further instructions. You may also check your jury status online by accessing the Online Services Jury Duty page on this website.

  3. If the telephone recorded message (or the Online Services Jury Duty page) instructs you to call back at a given time, you are expected to report to work and call back at your assigned time for further instructions. If instructed to report for jury selection, you may be required to report within one hour to the Superior Court Jury Assembly Room located at either the Downtown Superior Courthouse located at 191 North First Street, San Jose or the Hall of Justice Courthouse located at 190 West Hedding Street, San Jose. Please bring the summons with you when reporting to court.  

  4. You may be requested to report to any of the Superior Court Facilities. The other court facilities are the South County Courthouse Morgan Hill, located at 301 Diana Avenue in Morgan Hill, and the Palo Alto Courthouse located at 270 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto.

  5. When arriving at the Downtown Superior Courthouse, report to the Jury Assembly Room on the First Floor. Jurors should check in with the clerk at the jury counter. A panel number will be assigned to all jurors. When a courtroom is ready for your jury panel, you will be given further instructions.  

  6. When arriving at the Hall of Justice, report to the Jury Assembly Room on the Second Floor. Please check in with the clerk at the jury counter. The clerk will assign you to a jury panel. When a courtroom is ready for your jury panel, you will be instructed as to the courtroom designation.
     
  7. When reporting to the South County Courthouse Morgan Hill, jurors report to the Jury Assembly Room located on the First Floor. At the Palo Alto Courthouse, the Jury Assembly Room is located on the 4th Floor of the Office Wing.

Payment of Jury Fees:

Prospective jurors are paid $15.00 per day and 34 cents per mile, one way from home. There is no payment for the first day of service. Payment begins with the second and subsequent days of service.

Effective August 16, 2004, if a prospective juror is employed by any government agency and receives regular compensation and benefits while performing jury service, they will not be paid the $15.00 per day jury fee. If a prospective juror works for: the federal, state, or local government, or any other public entity as defined in Code of Civil Procedure section 481.200 , such as:

  • the Regents of the University of California
  • a county or city
  • a school district
  • a water district
  • a transit board
  • any political subdivision or public corporation in the state

they will be asked to sign a waiver of jury fees. For more information, refer to Code of Civil Procedure Section 215 .

Mileage is automatically tabulated by computer according to the juror's home zip code. "Service" is defined as physically reporting to the courthouse. Days spent on telephone standby do not count as service payment days.

Jury payroll is processed every two weeks. It is possible that a juror will receive more than one paycheck for jury service. Payroll checks are not forwarded by the post office. Therefore, it is important that the jury office has the juror's correct name and address, in order to make sure that checks are delivered in a timely manner.

Length of Service:

If the recorded message instructs you to report to the courthouse for jury duty and, after reporting, you are not assigned to a courtroom that day, your jury service is complete at the end of the day. You will not be required to continue to call the recorder or access our Online Services Jury Duty page. If you are assigned to a courtroom, your service is required until you are excused from jury selection. If you are selected as a sworn juror or as an alternate juror, you must serve for the entire trial, however long. If you are not initially needed to report to the courthouse, you may be required to remain on telephone standby and be instructed to call the recorded message daily or access our Online Services Jury Duty page for a maximum of five working days.

Security (what can and cannot be brought into the courthouse/courtroom):

When you enter the courthouse, you will go through airport-type security screening. You will walk through a metal detector and your handbags, briefcases, backpacks and containers will be x-rayed. These devices are harmless and present no health hazard.

The following items are not allowed in the courthouse:

  • Knitting needs, nail clippers, scissors, knives
  • Drugs or alcoholic beverages
  • Weapons of any type, including but not limited to guns, stun guns, and toy guns
  • Glass containers i.e. juices, sodas, perfumes, makeup, etc.
  • Extra clothing not worn upon the person
  • Large backpacks or suitcases that contain personal items
  • Any other item deemed inappropriate by security personnel

Cameras may not be brought into the courthouse or courtroom without advance arrangement with the Court. Cell phones and other personal data devices that have recording, photographic, or other visual or image recording or reproduction capability, are allowed in the courtroom as long as they are turned off. Use of any such devices in a courtroom is expressly prohibited unless there is prior approval by the judge in the courtroom where the device is present.

Juror Parking:

  1. Jurors reporting to the Hall of Justice should park in the garage directly across the street from the Hall of Justice. The jury parking is located on the second and third level. Bring the parking ticket to the Jury counter and it will be validated for you. If you are using Light Rail, exit at the Civic Center station.

  2. Jurors reporting to the Downtown Superior Courthouse: juror parking is not provided at this location. For local parking information, please visit http://sjdowntownparking.com/parking-map.

  3. If you are cited for any illegal parking, it will be your responsibility to pay for any citations that are issued to you.

  4. DO NOT PARK AT A METER. You will not be allowed to leave the court once in session. If you are cited, we cannot dismiss your ticket. It will be your responsibility to take care of the ticket.

  5. For the Palo Alto and South County Courthouses, please follow the posted parking rules. You may park in the parking lots, as long as you put the jury parking permit on the dashboard of your car. Palo Alto jurors: do not park in the City of Palo Alto parking lot, or you will be cited.

  6. Most bus routes and light rail stations  are within a few blocks of the courthouses. If you are using Light Rail, exit at the St. James Station for the Downtown Superior Courthouse. The phone for transit information is (408) 321-2300. The teleprinter for the hearing impaired is (408) 321-2330. Please make every effort to use public transportation since parking is limited at some court locations. See public transportation online info at this site. If you have any questions or wish further information about jury duty, please call (408) 882-2500  or (408) 808-6666 . The TDD for the hearing impaired is (408) 882-2591.

The Trial:

The reason we have trials is to allow two or more parties to have their dispute settled by a court. Some lawsuits are decided by the judge alone; others are decided by a jury. A jury is a body of citizens from the community sworn to make an impartial decision based on the evidence presented during a trial.

Jurors serve in two kinds of cases -- civil and criminal. In a civil case, one person or entity (for example, the plaintiff) asks the court to protect some right or to help recover money or property from another the defendant. In a criminal case, the State of California (the plaintiff) charges that a person (the defendant) committed a crime and asks that the defendant be fined or sent to jail or prison.

Jury Selection

You and the others called for jury duty will be taken into a courtroom. Twelve to eighteen names will be randomly selected, unless the parties agree to a smaller jury. These people will take seats in a jury box. The rest of you will remain seated in the courtroom.

The judge will state the names of the parties in the case and names of the lawyers who will represent them. The judge will also tell you what the lawsuit is about, for example, a drunk driving case, a burglary case, or a civil suit such as an automobile accident.

Next the judge and/or the attorneys will question each of you seated in the jury box to find out if you can be a fair and impartial juror in this particular case.

One of the attorneys may "challenge you for cause".  This means the attorney will ask the judge to excuse you from the jury for a specific legal reason.  For example, if you know one of the attorneys, you might tend to favor his or her side. Each lawyer has an unlimited number of challenges for cause.

Each attorney has the right to a certain number of peremptory challenges. That is, the attorney may ask that you be excused without giving any reason at all. If this happens, don't take it personally.  The lawyer is merely exercising a right given by law.

After the required number of jurors has been chosen, the jury panel is sworn to try the case.

How the Trial Proceeds - Opening Statement

First the attorney for the party who is suing will tell the jury what he or she intends to prove. In a civil case, this is the plaintiff's attorney; in a criminal case, this is the prosecuting attorney.  The attorney for the defense may speak then or may wait until after the other side presents its evidence.

After all of the evidence has been presented, both attorneys will sum up the case from their perspectives. Taking turns, each will tell you what he or she believes the evidence shows and why it favors his or her side.

Instructions to the Jury

The judge will instruct you on your duties as jurors. The judge will also tell you what law applies to the facts you will consider. After that, the bailiff will take you to the jury room where you and the other jurors will deliberate.

In the Jury Room

First, you will select one of the jurors as foreperson. He or she leads the discussion and tries to encourage everyone to join in. Don't be afraid to speak out during deliberations. The whole idea of a jury is to come to a decision after full and frank discussion, based on calm, unbiased reasoning.

In civil cases, it takes nine jurors to reach a verdict. In criminal cases, all jurors must agree, that is, the verdict must be unanimous.

The Verdict

When you have reached your verdict, which may come after a few hours or several days, the foreperson will record your verdict on an official form. The bailiff will tell the judge you are ready and you will return to the jury box.

The judge will ask if you reached a verdict. The foreperson will answer, handing the written verdict to the bailiff. The clerk will read it aloud and mark the record accordingly.

Sometimes one of the parties will ask that the jury be polled. This means that the judge or clerk will ask each juror individually if this is his or her own verdict. After the judge discharges the jury, their service will then be complete.

Officers of the Court:

JUDGE:  Appointed by the governor or elected by the voters; has the authority and duty to hear and decide questions of law. The judge must see that everyone receives equal and fair justice under the law.

ATTORNEY:  Licensed practitioner of the law, who is employed either by a party or by the government to prepare and present their case.

CLERK:  Chief administrative officer of the court. The clerk compiles official files, stamps and collects exhibits, swears in jurors, and maintains records of court proceedings.

BAILIFF:  A court attendant who keeps order in the courtroom and has custody of the jury.

COURT REPORTER:  Records legal proceedings accurately for the official record.

INTERPRETER:  Hired by the court to translate foreign languages, or aid disabled participants.

Frequently Asked Questions about Jury Duty

If you are called for jury duty, you will have many questions- from where you should report to what will happen during a trial if you are chosen to serve.  Most of these steps are set by state law and a few court rules.  What you read here should cover most of your questions when called to serve in the Superior Court of California, although each county may be slightly different.

  1. Who may be called to serve as a juror?

    You may be called to serve if you are 18 years old or older, a United States citizen, and resident of the county or district where summoned. You must be able to understand English, and be physically and mentally capable of serving. In addition, you must not have served as any kind of juror during the past 12 months, nor have been convicted of a felony.

  2. How did my name get selected for jury duty?

    Jurors' names are selected at random from lists of registered voters. In addition, the law provides that the courts may use the names of all persons who have driver's licenses or identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The courts may use other sources such as customer mailing lists, telephone directories, and utility company lists. So you may be called even if you allow your name to be dropped from the list of registered voters.

  3. How long will my name be on the prospective juror's list?

    Your name will remain on the court's jury list for at least one year, and you may be called for jury duty at any time during that year. If you are not called one year, your name may be placed on next year's list.

  4. When I am summoned as a juror, what should I do?

    READ the response form on the reverse side of the summons.

    If you are NOT qualified to serve, want to request an excuse or want a postponement from jury service, you can update your information to request a postponement, disqualification or excuse from jury service on the Prospective Juror Login website . If you are unable to go to our website, complete the response form, sign, date, and mail it within 10 days of receiving the summons.

    If you ARE qualified and are NOT requesting an excuse, bring the entire completed response form with you when you report. Do not return the form by mail, because you will need the parking permit for your future use.

    During the week you are on call, you can check your status on the Online Services Jury Duty page, updated daily, or by phone, per the instructions on your summons. The parking permit lists the addresses of the courthouses for the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. In Santa Clara County trials are held at different locations.

  5. What happens if I do not respond to the jury summons?

    For your information, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 196 {c} provides that "Any person who fails to respond to jury commissioner or court inquiry as instructed, may be summoned to appear before the jury commissioner or the court to answer such inquiry." California Code of Civil Procedure Section 209 provides that "Any prospective trial juror who has been summoned for service, and who fails to attend upon the court as directed or to respond to the court or jury commissioner and to be excused from attendance, may be attached and compelled to attend; and, following an order to show cause hearing, the court may find the prospective juror in contempt of court, punishable by a fine of up to $1,500, or 5 days in the county jail, or both." [CCP 1218(a)]

  6. May I postpone my jury service to a more convenient time?

    You may request to reschedule your jury service to a more convenient time. Usually it must be rescheduled during the same year and not exceed 90 days from the date of your summons. Jurors are allowed one postponement. You can update your information to request a postponement, disqualification or excuse from jury service on the Prospective Juror Login website . If you are unable to go to our website, complete the response form, sign, date, and mail it within 10 days of receiving the summons.

  7. Do I get paid for jury duty?

    Payment to jurors begins on the second and subsequent days. You will not get paid on the first day of service. The minimum amount paid is set by the State Legislature. Counties may pay more but never less. Your court may also pay for some travel costs. This county pays $15.00 per day plus 34¢ per mile one-way from home.

  8. Does the Court pay for meals?

    No. Meals are not provided during a trial or during deliberations.

  9. How can I be a juror if my boss won't let me off?

    Employers must allow employees time off to serve on a jury. The California Labor Code Section 230 prohibits any employer from firing or harassing an employee who is summoned to court for jury services as long as reasonable notice is given. If you are a teacher or student, you are protected by California Education Code Sections 44037 and 87306.

    If you are concerned that jury duty has negatively impacted your employment, the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) can provide assistance. A Senior Labor Commissioner will respond to questions at DLSE2@dir.ca.gov.

    Some employers may pay the difference between your jury allowance and salary. For example, if your salary for the day is $35.00 and the jury fee is $15.00, your employer may pay $20.00. However, this is not required by law, but many contracts require the pay differential.

  10. What should I wear to court?

    Dress as you would to go to a business meeting or social function. Do not wear shorts or tank tops. Check with the Jury Commissioner's Office if you have any doubts.

  11. Is there any special way I must act in court?

    Be alert and courteous. You may bring a book or newspaper to read while you're waiting for court to begin, or during recesses, but don't read while court is in session. Be sure to turn off all cell phones and audible pagers in the courtroom. Eating and chewing gum is not permitted.

  12. How much of my day will jury service take?

    You should plan to attend court as a juror all day from approximately 8:00 - 5:00 p.m., depending on the court's schedule. Civil cases will last from one to two weeks or sometimes longer. The average length is around five days. Criminal cases generally last from two to three weeks or sometimes longer.

  13. Why are there such long breaks and lunch hours during a trial?

    The judge may have to set the next day's calendar and dispose of other cases. Attorneys may need time to prepare their witnesses and other aspects of the case.  Court Committees that are involved in the decision making process of the Court meet during the noon hour.

  14. What happens if I'm late?

    Contact the Jury Commissioner's Office as soon as you know that you are going to be late. If you are already assigned to a courtroom, contact the Jury Commissioner's Office or the clerk of the court and explain your situation. Remember the trial cannot proceed until everyone is present. If you don't have a good excuse, the judge may fine you for being late.

  15. Is it true that I must not discuss the case with anyone while it's in progress?

    Do not talk to anyone about the case until you are discharged from the jury, not even the lawyers or the judge, except through the bailiff. Discussions with others can cause a mistrial because the juror gained evidence outside the record. If any person persists in talking to you about the trial or attempts to influence you as a juror, tell the bailiff. During deliberations at the end of the trial, of course, you will discuss the case with other jurors in order to reach a verdict.

  16. May I investigate some parts of the case that aren't brought out by the attorneys on my own?

    No. Under no circumstances should you investigate the case on your own, either alone or with other jurors. You may not talk to witnesses, or do independent experiments. Your verdict must be based only on evidence produced in court. This prevents a trial based on secret evidence. If you violate this rule, you could cause a mistrial.

  17. Why do attorneys talk with the judge out of the jurors' hearing?

    If this happens, do not feel slighted or guess what is being said. Such conferences are held to discuss legal issues or to agree upon points of evidence. These conferences often help speed up the trial or avoid the possibility of a mistrial.

  18. Who can I write with suggestions about my jury service?

    The Presiding Judge or the Jury Commissioner, at mailing address 191 North First Street, San Jose, CA 95113.

Juror Alert: Security of Juror Information and Court Contacts, and Potential Jury Fraud

The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, has learned that persons representing themselves as court officials may be contacting prospective jurors and asking for personal information. Please be advised that official Court personnel do not request personal information from jurors by telephone.

Should you receive a telephone call from someone identifying themselves as a court employee and requesting personal information such as a social security number, date of birth, credit card numbers, etc. please contact the fraud unit at your local law enforcement agency. Please also contact our Jury Services Unit for the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara at (408) 882-2500 .

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara