Juror’s Guide to Jury Duty in Lawrence County
We are most pleased to welcome you as you
prepare for jury service in the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence
County. We want your stay to be as pleasant and as rewarding as
possible. This note has been prepared to provide you with information
to better equip you to fulfill your obligations as a juror.
The word “obligations” was purposely used in
the previous sentence, because each one of us, as citizens of this
county, this state, and this country, do have an obligation to assure
the continuation of the freedoms that we all enjoy.
Both the Constitutions of the United States
and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania guarantee each one of us the
“right” to a trial by jury when certain of our legal interests and
personal liberties are challenged. Because we are guaranteed that
“right,” we also are charged with the “obligation” to do our part to
provide for our system of justice to continue. Just as the rights we
all enjoy apply to every one of us regardless of race, ethnicity, gender
or economic status, so, too, does our obligation to serve as jurors.
Hopefully, all citizens should be proud and honored to serve.
The Courts do certainly recognize that, even
though jurors may be proud and honored to serve, service as a juror is a
burden, because the time you give is time that is taken away from your
personal lives and is, at the very least, an interruption of your
business and personal lives. Your valuable time and talents are
appreciated by the Courts, the entire legal community and by your fellow
citizens whose legal interests and liberties are at issue.
Jury service, while a responsibility of each
of us, should also be viewed by you as your opportunity to view first
hand and participate in the American system of justice, and also,
hopefully, to assist each of us in the Court system to make improvements
to the operation of justice in our county.
The Court and the entire legal community
wish to thank you for your service as a juror. We want to make your
service as interesting and rewarding as possible, and we look forward to
hearing from you after you serve to improve our methods and treatment of
those citizens who come after you to serve in this most important
PURPOSE OF THE JUROR’S GUIDE
This guide has been prepared to help you
focus on your place within the system. It is also intended to provide
you with general information concerning your experiences as a juror. It
is also intended to correct or clarify misconceptions that may have been
created by exposure to movies, television programming, media accounts or
shared experiences from friends and family. You will receive personal
orientation with a judge, the Court Administrator and other Court
We strive to offer to litigants, or parties
before the Court, the opportunity to select a jury which represents all
cross-sections of our community. Remember, the jury’s task is to make a
determination of the truth, and all of our citizens are equipped with
the ability to undertake that responsibility.
EXEMPTIONS FROM JURY DUTY
The law in Pennsylvania states that no one
shall be exempt or excused from jury duty except:
Persons in active service of
the Armed Forces of the United States or of the Commonwealth of
Persons who have served on
jury duty within three (3) years preceding their current summons for
jury duty: however if the person served as a juror for fewer than three
(3) days in one (1) year, the exemption period is reduced to one (1)
Persons demonstrating to the
Court undue hardship or extreme inconvenience may be either excused
permanently or deferred to another time as the Court determines is
Persons with hearing problems,
also those with blindness, should accompany your completed summons with
a proof letter from your doctor. Amish persons are also exempt from
If you believe you fit into one of these 4
categories it will be necessary to write and mail your request to the
Jury Service Coordinator along with your completed summons and doctor’s
statement to be excused either permanently or temporarily. They must
arrive at the Jury Service Office one week prior to the date you are
scheduled to come to the Court House for Jury Duty. Otherwise you will
be required to come to the Courthouse on the appointed day and time and
talk with the judge. You are to fill out the summons completely, sign
it and date it and return it to the Jury Service Office in the envelope
provided no later than one week prior to your jury date. Failure to do
so could lead to heavy fines.
WHEN RECEIVING A SUMMONS TO APPEAR
When you are summoned to appear for jury
duty, you will find written instructions on the top front portion and
also on the upper back portion of your summons. This will include
appropriate dress and shoe information and also what you will be allowed
to bring with you while serving on Jury duty.
You will also be instructed to call the Jury
Service line after 4:00 P.M. on the Thursday prior to your Jury date.
The number to call is 724 656 2480 and upon the call being answered by
an automated voice message you will be asked to place your juror number
in the system. The system will tell you either “to report” or “do not
report.” If you do not have a touch tone phone then you will call the
724 656 1933 number and leave a message, with your name and jury number
and your phone number where you can be reached. You will be called back
during the next business day. We suggest that you call after 7:00 P.M.
or later as many people are trying to call at the earlier hour and you
will experience a busy signal.
REPORTING FOR JURY DUTY
Persons reporting for Jury Duty must bring
with them a photo I.D. as you will be requested to prove your identity.
You will also need to bring with you your identity badge, which is found
in the upper right hand corner of your summons.
You should allow yourself ample time to park
and enter the court house and go through its security points. Two lots
are provided for parking. One directly in front of the court house
entrance and one across the street next to the church, now called
Gettings Center. Formerly the 2nd Presbyterian Church.
Arriving at the Court House you will proceed
to the third (3) floor where you will be met and directed to go to the
Jurors Holding Room. Handicapped access is available and is marked for
your convenience. The courthouse has a “no smoking” policy and that is
inside the courthouse and outside on the grounds. A “no weapons” policy
is also strictly enforced.
Proper attire or dress is required for
Court. It is suggested that you dress as you would to go for an
important job interview. Short, t-shirts, tank tops and sports clothing
are never considered appropriate dress. Flip-flops are not allowed
Upon arriving at the Jury Holding Room, you
will be registered in and at this time you will wear the badge that you
brought with you on the outside of your clothing. You will be required
to wear your badge at all time when you are in the Courthouse. You
will be seated in the holding room with all other jurors.
You will be administered an oath to
faithfully perform your duties and a short orientation will be
performed. There will be coffee and snacks in the holding room area and
TV will help fill in with some important information to aid you in your
Please feel free to bring a book, magazine,
computer or other forms of entertainment if you desire, keeping in mind
that you may be in the holding room with up to 125 other jurors,
and their peace of mind and security are as important as your own. Do
not bring equipment or materials that others may find offensive.
Computers, cell phones and other electronic
devices are not permitted in the courtrooms. Finally should you
have a need for anything while you are with us, please feel free to ask
the Court staff, which will be available for your needs during your
entire stay with us at the Courthouse.
You will remain in the Jury Holding Room
until prospective jurors are actually called to a Courtroom for jury
selection. This is necessary so that there can be no contact between
those called for jury duty and the litigants, witnesses and attorneys
who will be involved in cases to be heard.
You will be permitted to leave the area for
lunch hour. The time is usually 12:00 noon to 1:30 P.M. There are
vending machines on the first floor of the courthouse and restaurants
near- by. Some may wish to bring their own lunches and just be aware
that there is no refrigeration at the courthouse. Coffee, tea and water
are provided in the Jury Holding Room.
TWO TYPES OF CASES TO BE HEARD
Jurors will hear either Civil or Criminal
cases. A civil case is one in which one or more individuals files suit
against other individuals, company or government body. The party filing
the suit is often referred to as the Plaintiff, and the party defending
the suit is referred to as the Defendant.
In a civil case, the jury is called upon to
determine whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to monetary damages
from the defendant, and, if so, what the appropriate amount of monetary
In criminal case, the Lawrence County
District Attorney, or sometimes the Pennsylvania Attorney General,
through one or more of their assistants, prosecute a case against an
individual(s) or company(s) that are accused of one or more crimes. The
District Attorney or Attorney General who is bringing the charges is
referred to as the prosecutor. The person’(s) or company(s) is called
In a criminal case, the jury is called upon
to determine whether or not the prosecutor has proven the defendant
guilty of one or more crimes. Except for cases involving first degree
murder, jurors are not requested to fix punishment.
Total number of people summoned to appear on
a given day is known as the “jury pool.” From the “jury pool,” a
“panel” is then sent to a Courtroom for the selection process. The
purpose of the selection process is to arrive at a final jury consisting
of 12 people who will be fair and impartial while deciding the facts
delivered from the evidence presented and applying the law as instructed
by the judge. Alternate jurors, (usually 2) may also be chosen to avoid
having to delay or stop a trial in the vent that one of the original 12
jurors becomes unavailable, for any reason to complete the trial.
During the selection process, the randomly
selected jurors who are brought to the Courtroom (the “panel”) will be
questioned by the judge and/ or the attorneys involved in the case to be
heard. The reason the judge and / or attorneys ask the questions is so
that a fair and impartial jury of 12 people can be selected. Therefore,
it is of utmost importance that all members of the jury panel “speak the
truth” when answering all questions.
THE ROLE OF THE JUROR
Listen carefully to all evidence presented
during the trial.
During deliberations, discuss the evidence
with fellow jurors and decide what the facts are, based upon which
witnesses and evidence you believe.
Apply the law, as explained by
the judge, to the facts, as determined by you.
Do no independent research or
Determine the money damages in
some civil cases.
In criminal cases, decide
whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Arrive at a verdict.
THE ROLE OF THE JUDGE
Make sure that all parties
have a fair opportunity to present their case.
Make sure the trial process
proceeds in a proper manner.
Instruct the jury on the
Decide the punishment in
most criminal cases.
THE TRIAL PROCESS
The jury is selected by the
attorneys for both parties.
The Jury is sworn in.
The Jury receives opening
instructions by the trial judge.
Opening Statements are
presented by the Attorneys.
Evidence is presented.
Closing Arguments are
conducted by attorneys for each party.
The trial judge charges or
instructs the jury on the applicable law.
The jury deliberates.
The jury reaches and renders
The jury is dismissed by the
The judge explains the law relevant to the
case and provides guidance on procedures to be followed in jury
deliberations. One of the first things the jury does during
deliberations is to choose a foreperson. The foreperson should make
sure each juror has a chance to speak; that each juror’s opinion is
treated with respect; that the jury does not rush to come to a verdict;
that jurors carefully listen to one another; and that they return a fair
and impartial verdict based upon the facts of the case.
In criminal cases, the jury’s verdict must
be unanimous. In civil cases, 5/6 of the jurors must be in agreement to
return a verdict.
AFTER THE JURY REACHES A VERDICT
a jury reaches a verdict, the foreperson informs the court that the jury
has reached a verdict, the judge calls everyone back to the Courtroom.
The verdict will then be announced by the foreperson. After the verdict
is announced and recorded, the jury has completed its duties and is
After discharge, jurors are permitted, but
not required to talk about the case. Jurors are not permitted, however,
to disclose what another juror said in the jury room. If anyone
attempts to communicate with a juror regarding his or her role as juror
in a way that one feels is improper, the juror should report the
incident to the Court as soon as possible.
Will I be paid for service as a juror?
Yes, $9.00 per day for the first three days and $25.00 per day
thereafter, and mileage for transportation to and from the courthouse.
These fees are set by the State Legislature.
What if my employer doesn’t allow me to
serve? The law prohibits any employer from preventing an employee to
serve as a juror. The law also prohibits an employer from depriving a
juror of benefits because of jury service, such as requiring you to use
vacation time to serve.
Is it possible to appear for jury service
and not sit on a jury? Yes, more people are called than actually serve,
because it is not always possible to estimate accurately the number of
jurors who will be needed to serve each day.
Is my employer required to pay me while I
serve as a juror? If you work for the government, your employer must pay
you. If you work in the private sector, your employer does not have to
How long does the average trial take?
Criminal trials do not usually last longer than two to three days.
Generally, civil trails do not last longer than three to four days.
However, some trials may last longer.
The Lawrence County Court Administrator
will be issuing checks to jurors immediately upon completion of jury
duty. This process will help save money by not having to mail the
checks to jurors and will also save time so that jurors won’t have to
wait for their checks. As an added feature, any juror, that so chooses,
may cash their check at the Lawrence County Treasurer’s Office that day.
Thank you for serving as a future juror.