Contacting the Jury Office:
How can I reach the Jury Office?
The Jury Office is open Monday through Friday (excluding federal and/or court holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During business hours, jurors may call (318) 872-3110 to speak with the jury staff and jurors may also leave a voicemail. Monday mornings are very busy when jurors have been called in for service. The Jury Office address is:42nd Judicial District Court 101 Texas St Mansfield, LA 71052
Where does the jury office obtain names of prospective jurors?
The list of names that is used to call people for jury service is received from the state by combining the parish voter registration list and Louisiana Licensed Driver records and state Disability listings. Names are randomly selected from that master list for possible service as a juror.
I have been called to serve three times in the past five years and none of my friends have ever been called. Why don't you pick some other people?
Since the process of selecting residents of DeSoto Parish is random, some people may be selected more than others.
I can no longer fulfill my duties as a juror. Can't you take my name from your records?
Under certain circumstances, such as permanent mental or physical disability, jury staff can permanently remove a name from its records.
I am not a citizen of the United States but I would still like to serve as a juror. Why can't I?
The law automatically disqualifies non-citizens, convicted felons whose civil rights have not been restored, and people under 18 years of age from jury service.
What is Jury Duty?
Jury duty is defined as an obligation of a citizen to serve on a jury when called. One of the highest duties of citizenship, it accrues from the constitutional right to be tried by a panel of one's peers and involves direct participation in the administration of justice. When summoned for jury duty, a citizen must appear before the Court or be held in contempt of Court.
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 and the evidence. 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?
The normal term of service is 5 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 generally 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?
The dress code for Court is general business attire. Casual attire is acceptable. However, you should not wear tank tops, shorts, or flip-flops.
Is jury service mandatory?
JURY SUMMONS is an order to appear in Court at the time and place stated. Until a few years ago, the law allowed the judges to excuse or exempt people whose jobs the legislature considered essential. That is no longer true. Now everyone who is qualified must participate in jury duty, unless the service would result in undue hardship. Contact the Jury Management Office when you get your summons, if you have concerns. If you have actually served on a jury during the past two years, you may ask to be excused. You may be able to obtain permission not to appear at the time and place stated on your summons. Remember you are NOT free from your obligation to appear unless you have received written verification from the Jury Management Office that your reason has been accepted.
Reporting For Service:
When you are summoned to jury duty, it is critical that you report on time. Due to the volume of cases scheduled and because no juror will be dismissed until all the judges have selected their juries, you should allow a full five days for jury service. You may wish to bring reading material during your stay. Please bring a sweater or jacket, since the courtrooms are often quite cool. If you have specific dietary needs, feel free to bring snacks, lunch, or juices for that purpose.
What happens if I do not show up for jury service?
Failure to appear for jury service when summoned is a serious matter. You may be held in contempt of court. It is in your best interest to appear if you are summoned to avoid any further action.
Pay for jury service:
Will I be compensated for jury duty?
Yes. You will be paid for your jury service. You will be paid $15 per day and a travel allowance. The checks will be in the mail within 10 days. If you have not received your check within a reasonable time frame, please contact the Jury Administration at 318-872-1398.
Must my employer pay me while I'm on jury service?
No. An employer is NOT required by law to pay employees who are on jury service but many employers do. You should check with your company's human resources department before serving to see if your company pays your salary for days you are a juror. If you DO receive your salary while on jury service, you should ask what your employer requires as proof that you served as a juror.
Am I able to receive an employement letter?
If your employer requires a certificate of attendance, the Jury Management Office will provide a letter upon request. If your employer has its own attendance certificate which you must return to your payroll officer, bring it to the Jury Management Office to be completed and signed.
In order to serve as a juror, a person must meet these requirements:
Be at least 18 years of age
Be able to read, write, and speak the English language
Not be under interdiction or incapable of serving because of mental or physical infirmity
Not be under indictment for a felony nor have been convicted of a felony
Be a resident of DeSoto Parish for at least one (1) year
Be a citizen of the United States
Excuse from Service:
A prospective juror may be excused if he/she:
If you are seventy (70) years of age or older, you may opt out of service.
If you are currently enrolled as a full-time college student, you may opt out of service. Full-time college students must present a student enrollment verification form from the college registrar's office.
If you have served on a jury within the past two (2) years, you may be excused from service upon request.
What about getting a postponement?
The Jury Commission realizes prospective jurors may have been summoned at an inconvenient time and is willing to defer service to a more convenient time in most instances. Jurors may request a first-time postponement after being summoned via phone (318) 872-3110 or Internet. Jurors may select a new date of their choice, with some limitations as long as the new date is within 90 days of the date on which they were scheduled to appear. Subsequent postponements are not allowed unless it is an extreme emergency that was not anticipated when the first postponement was granted.
Upon entering the Courthouse, you will be required to go through a metal detector. All briefcases, handbags, and parcels will be x-rayed by Court security officers. Due to security concerns, you will be required to surrender any items which could be used as a weapon. The following items are prohibited in the building: FIREARMS, KNIVES, CAMERAS, VIDEOCAMERAS, TAPE RECORDERS, WORK TOOLS, CHEMICAL SPRAY, and CIGARETTE LIGHTERS.
Prospective jurors' names are pulled from the Voter's Registration list of DeSoto Parish and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Citizens' names are drawn randomly by computer from a master list by the Jury Management Office. The list is called the General Venire. You are then mailed a qualification form to fill in and mail back. After it is determined by the Court that you are qualified to serve, you will receive a summons for jury duty. After you have completed your term, you will not be called again unless, by coincidence, your name is again drawn from the voter registration or DMV list in future years. If you are called again within two years after service in Nineteenth Judicial District Court, you may be excused upon request.
A petit jury hears and decides a case and renders a verdict. A grand jury, on the other hand, has a different function. It is asked to decide only whether there is enough evidence to cause a person to be brought to trial for a crime. The grand jury hears only one side of the case -- the government's -- and it does not render a verdict. Its decision is an indictment, which is merely an accusation, or a decision that the person in question should stand trial to determine his/her innocence or guilt. Grand jurors serve for period of one year, and they usually meet one day per week.