If you have been summoned for jury service, you should report to the 3rd floor of the Dale County Courthouse on the square in Ozark, Alabama or the Main Courtroom of the Geneva County Courthouse on Commerce Street in Geneva, Alabama.
On the first day of jury service the Court will qualify you generally for jury service. The judge will inquire into the qualifications of all prospective jurors and administer the oath of office.
Qualification and Selection of Jurors
Our jury list consists of names randomly selected from the drivers’ license list of licensed motor vehicle operators kept by the Department of Public Safety in Montgomery. Until a few years ago, many persons, due to their age or profession, were exempt from jury service. The legislature of Alabama abolished these exemptions. Now no person is exempt by reason of old age or profession.
In general, a juror must have the following qualifications:
- Be 19 years of age or older.
- Be a citizen of the United States.
- Be a resident of Dale or Geneva County for more than 12 months.
- Read, speak, understand and follow instructions given in the English language.
- Be physically and mentally able to perform satisfactory jury service.
- Have not lost the right to vote by conviction for an offense involving moral turpitude.
A person who is qualified for jury service may be excused by making a showing to the Court of undue hardship, extreme inconvenience or public necessity. At the end of the initial qualification session, the judge will ask those persons seeking to be excused to make such a showing. A person so excused will probably be rescheduled for jury service at a later time.Term of Service
Jurors are summoned for service in the Circuit Court of Dale or Geneva County for a one-week term. Generally, no cases are scheduled to begin on Friday. Your jury service will end after Thursday unless you are serving as a juror on a case that will continue on Friday. Some cases, however, may last more than one week. These are rare instances that, nevertheless, do occur.
In Dale County, parking in the downtown area is very limited. The court does not have the authority to pay for parking and cannot arrange to have parking tickets canceled. Parking is available in several areas a block from the courthouse.
While formal dress is not required, court proceedings are quite formal in nature. Since jurors are often referred to as officers of the court, you are requested to dress appropriately.Work Verification
Many employers require proof that you were summoned to report as a juror. Excuses may be obtained from the Clerk of the Court.
Payment for Jury Service
State law sets jury fees. For each day you serve you will be paid the regular jury fee of $10 plus travel expense of 5 cents per round-trip mile from your residence to the courthouse. An Alabama employer is legally responsible for paying a full time employee’s regular wages while in service as a juror. Section 12-16-8 Code of Alabama.
Once inside the courtroom, you should follow instructions given to you by the court attendant or by the judge. When a trial jury is selected and you are not a member of that jury and/or released, you will be expected to return to the Court as instructed by the judge. If you have been selected to sit on a trial jury, generally, you will be permitted to return home at the close of the day’s court session. If an emergency arises while you are sitting as a juror, consult the judge about your problem. Should you need to get in touch with your family, the court attendant will be happy to assist you.
Waiting Serves a Purpose
There are occasions when prospective jurors will have to wait, seemingly without a purpose. Even while waiting, jurors being ready and available are actively serving a purpose. For example, sometimes parties to a lawsuit will continue to negotiate and settle the matter after a jury panel has been assembled or after a trial jury has been selected. Sometimes cases are settled during the course of the trial because the parties and their attorneys feel that you as jurors might decide their dispute less to their advantage. On occasion the judge may need to talk to the attorneys or hear arguments on points of law out of the hearing of the jury. Often the reason for this delay may not be explained to you. Please remember that this time is spent discussing and simplifying legal issues. Cases may even be settled during or because of these conferences.
The Course of a Trial
- Selection of a Jury
- Voir Dire examination
- Challenges for cause
- Preemptory challenges (striking of the jury)
- Seating of the jury and administration of juror oath
- Opening Statements:
Brief outlines by the attorneys to inform the jury what the case is about and what they expect the evidence will be when presented.
- Presentation of Evidence
- Closing Arguments:
Summation by the lawyers as to the evidence presented and the reasonable inferences that could be drawn from the evidence.
- Judge’s Instruction as to the Law
- Deliberations by Jury
- Selection of foreperson
- Weighing of evidence
- The Verdict
The jury’s verdict in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous. It must be the independent verdict of each and every juror.