Seminole County Jury Duty Facts

Jury Information Hotline: (407)665-4834

Ultimately, our entire system of justice comes down to one person: you, the juror.

Taking the time to serve as a juror, to listen to all the evidence and to decide honestly and fairly, is perhaps the most important duty you, as a private citizen, can perform.

And the decisions you make will never, ever be routine.

You could be asked to decide the fate of someone accused of murder, or to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit. You could be asked to decide what does or does not amount to negligence in a complicated civil suit, or to recommend the appropriate punishment in a capital crime.

Jurors Summoned

In 1997, 26,900 citizens were called as jurors in Seminole County; more than 6,024 served. Together, they tried 333 cases. Most - nearly seven out of every ten - were criminal.

I realize that your time is valuable, and that taking the time to serve as a juror might seem awkward or inconvenient. But it is time well spent. The judges, court personnel, my staff and I are committed to doing everything we can to make your time here in the courthouse as positive and productive as possible.

 

Juror Qualifications

You must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years of age, a resident of the State of Florida and Seminole County, and possess a driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you do not possess a driver's license, you may execute an affidavit, which may be obtained by calling the Jury Manager at (407) 665-4392, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court located in the Seminole County Civil Courthouse at 301 N. Park Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771. You may also visit this website.

 

Jury Summons

Names are randomly selected from the list of names supplied annually by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you are chosen as a juror, you will be notified by mail. The jury summons you receive will include the time, date and place of your appearance, an excusal form, a Code-a-Phone number, and a group letter. (This is used in assigning you to a specific courtroom, later in the selection process).

 

Exemptions and Disqualifications from Jury Duty

You may be excused for the following reasons:

    • You are an expectant mother or a parent who is not employed full time and have custody of a child under six years of age.
    • You are 70 years of age or older.
    • You are a full time federal, state, or local law enforcement officer or investigative personnel for these entities.
    • You care for persons who, because of mental illness, mental retardation, senility, or physical or mental incapacity, are incapable of caring for themselves.
    • You are a practicing attorney or physician, or have a physical infirmity.
    • You may be excused upon a showing of hardship, extreme inconvenience, or public necessity.

You will be excused for the following reasons:

    • You have served as a juror in Seminole County one year immediately proceeding the date of your summons.
    • You are currently under prosecution for any crime.
    • You are a convicted felon and have not had your civil rights restored.
    • You serve as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, a Cabinet officer, clerk of court, or judge.

If you can't serve, fill out the form and return it to my office as soon as possible. We will notify you by mail whether or not your request is approved. Remember, if you do not receive notification of being excused, you must come to court. You will also be given a chance to explain your circumstances directly to the judge.

You can ask for a postponement - for up to six months. First requests are granted automatically. Second requests, however, must be approved by the court. Requests for postponement can be made in writing by checking the appropriate box on the summons form, or in person.

 

Payment for Jury Duty

Jurors who are regularly employed and receive regular wages during jury duty are not entitled to compensation for the first three days of jury service. Jurors who are not regularly employed or who do not receive regular wages during jury duty are entitled to $15.00 per day for the first three days of jury service. Jurors who serve more than three days will be paid by the state for the fourth and subsequent days of service at the rate of $30.00 per day, regardless of employment status. You will not receive compensation for mileage.

 

Examination of Jurors

When prospective jurors are called to a panel for a particular case, the judge and the attorneys will ask questions regarding jurors' backgrounds. This process is called "voir dire," which means "to speak the truth." These questions are not meant to embarrass. Instead, they are designed to ensure that members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences that might prevent them from making an impartial decision.

 

Length of Service

The first day of service is normally limited to jury selection for trials scheduled during the week. Prospective jurors selected to serve on a jury will be asked to return and serve on the dates of that trial. Most trials last one week or less, and we try to give you at least six weeks notice.

 

Petit and Grand Juries

A petit jury will hear and decide civil and criminal cases. Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies, or other organizations. Usually, the party who brings the suit is seeking money damages for an alleged wrong that has been done. The party who brings the suit is called the plaintiff, and the one being sued is called the defendant. Civil trials can involve small claims, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases.

Criminal cases are brought by the state against persons accused of committing a crime. In these cases, the state is the plaintiff, and the accused person is the defendant. Criminal trials can involve traffic, misdemeanor, felony, and capital (life and death penalty) cases.

A grand jury has broad powers to investigate a wide range of criminal offenses and to examine the performance of public officials and public institutions. Its deliberations are conducted in secret, in conjunction with the State Attorney or a designated assistant state attorney.

 

Important Things to Remember During the Trial

Jurors should observe the following general rules of conduct:

    • Be on time for court. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
    • Sit in the same seat in the jury box. This allows the clerk, judge, and lawyers to identify you more easily.
    • Listen carefully. It is important that you hear every question asked and every answer given since your verdict will be based on the evidence given. If you do not understand any portion of the trial, you should ask the judge to explain.
    • Do not talk about the case. You should not talk with anyone about the case. This includes the clerk, lawyers, judge, bailiff, and other jurors, unless you have retired to the jury room for deliberations. If anyone tries to talk to you about the case or attempts to influence you as a juror, you should report it to the judge immediately.

 

Dress Code

Men should wear dress shirts, ties and jackets. Ladies should wear skirts and blouses, dresses or slacks.

 

Parking

Parking on Park and Mead Avenues, Seminole Boulevard and Commercial Street (the streets are immediately adjacent to the courthouse), is limited to two hours. If you are called to the courthouse as a juror, you should park in the municipal lot east of the courthouse, or at the Sanford Marina, just north.

If you are called to the Criminal Justice Center, you should park in front of the building. Overflow parking is available across the street at the Public Safety Complex and the Juvenile Justice Center.