A trial by a jury of one's peers is among the fundamental democratic ideals of our nation. It is the duty and responsibility of all qualified citizens to participate as jurors.
In order for the justice process to be fair, equal and accessible to all, judicial officers and jurors must consider the cases before them in a way that is thoughtful, involves sound judgment, is impartial and fair, and demonstrates integrity.
In each trial, the judicial officer determines the rules of law that govern the case. For example, the judicial officer decides what evidence may be presented and admitted during the trial. After listening carefully and considering all of the testimony and evidence presented, jurors receive instructions from the judicial officer as to the laws that apply to the case. At this time, the responsibility switches to the jurors and they decide which facts in the case are most credible and then apply the law as instructed by the judicial officer in order to reach a verdict.
"Serving on a jury is a memorable experience and truly an honor."
Former Juror Adam C.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19 - The Court has a constitutional duty to remain open to serve the needs of the community to the greatest extent possible, even in the face of a potential COVID-19 outbreak. However, the Court is working with counsel and litigants to minimize the need to call in jurors, reduce the number of jurors summoned and comply with CDC and Marin County Public Health guidelines concerning safe distances and assemblies. The Court is also granting requests for deferrals and postponements remotely -- even for jurors who have previously made such a request -- for all potential jurors who are high risk or under medical or other business directives. The Court will continue to monitor the situation and will make ongoing adjustments as the direction of Marin County Public Health and the needs of the community dictate. Jurors who are not feeling well are encouraged to stay home and may contact Jury Services to reschedule their jury duty. You can postpone your jury duty electronically by logging into the jury system using your Juror ID and PIN provided to you on your jury summons. Jury clerks are also available by phone at (415) 444-7120, between the hours of 1:00 to 3:00 PM, and by email at email@example.com.
FRAUD ALERT - The State of California has issued public warnings about calls from individuals claiming to be court officials or law enforcement officers regarding jury service. The Court DOES NOT call, e-mail, or send letters requesting money or personal identifying information regarding jury service. If you are concerned that you are being targeted by this scam, please contact our Jury Services Division at (415) 444-7120 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What is a Jury Trial?
During a trial, the judicial officer serves as the Court's presiding officer and is the final authority on questions of law. The lawyers act as advocates for their clients. Jurors listen to opening statements and closing arguments presented by the lawyers and also learn about and weigh the evidence that is introduced during the trial. After hearing all of the evidence and arguments, jurors retire to a private room to begin their deliberations. The purpose of juror deliberations is to allow the jurors to make a decision about the questions presented in the case and then render a verdict.
Juries are called to hear two types of cases: civil and criminal.
- Civil cases involve disputes between people or organizations. They may involve property or personal rights, such as landlord/tenant issues, personal injury, contract disputes, and employment rights.
- Criminal cases are tried on behalf of the People of the State of California and are usually prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors file criminal cases against individuals accused of committing crimes.
- Selection of a Jury
When a jury trial is about to begin, the judicial officer requests a panel of prospective jurors to be sent to the courtroom from Jury Services so that the jury selection process can begin. After reporting to a courtroom, the prospective jurors are first asked to swear that they will truthfully answer all questions asked regarding their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case.
The law permits the judicial officer and attorneys to excuse individual jurors from service for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have a juror excused, he or she must use a "challenge" to excuse the juror. Challenges can be "for cause" - meaning that a reason is stated - or "peremptory" - meaning that no reason is required by the Court. The process of questioning and excusing jurors continues until 12 persons are chosen as jurors for the trial. Alternate jurors may also be selected. The judicial officer and attorneys agree that these jurors are qualified to decide impartially and intelligently the factual issues in the case. When the selection of the jury is complete, the jurors take an oath, promising to reach a verdict based only upon the evidence presented in the trial and the Court's instructions about the law.
The duty and responsibility of every juror is as important as the judicial officer's in making sure that justice is done. For more information regarding jury service in California, click here.