You must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years of age, a resident of the State of Florida and Polk 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, or an identification card, and you wish to be considered for jury service, you may request to execute an affidavit from the Clerk of the Circuit Courts, Jury Department. The number to call is Jury Management at (863)534-4569, or by visiting the office located on the 2nd floor of the Polk County Courthouse.
Names are randomly selected from the list of names supplied by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Exemptions from Jury Duty
You may be excused for any of the following reasons:
- You have served as a juror in Polk County within the past 12 months.
- 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 Law Enforcement Officer with arrest powers.
- 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 not a U.S. citizen.
- You are a convicted felon and have not had your civil rights restored.
- You are under prosecution for any crime.
Payment For Jury Duty
Effective July 1, 1998, jurors who are regularly employed and receive regular wages while serving as a juror are not entitled to receive compensation for the first three days of jury service. Jurors who are not regularly employed or who do not receive regular wages while serving as a juror 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.
"Voir Dire" or Examination of Jurors
Once prospective jurors are impaneled in a case, the judge and the lawyers will ask about jurors' backgrounds. These questions are not intended to embarrass jurors, but are designed to assist the lawyers in deciding which jurors to select. Jurors may have strong feelings about the type of case to be tried. If jurors feel they cannot be impartial and this has not been expressed during questioning, these jurors should bring this to the attention of the judge. Excusals from jury service should not be taken personally. When jurors are excused, it means only that there are proper and lawful reasons for the excusal.
Length of Service
The first day of service is normally limited to jury selection for trials held during the week of selection. Jurors selected to serve on a case will be asked to return and serve on the dates of that trial. Most trials last one day.
Types of Trials
Cases which come before a petit jury (so called to distinguish an ordinary jury from a grand jury) are divided into two general classes: Civil and Criminal. In a civil trial, parties in dispute come to court to have a jury determine their respective rights. The person who files suit or brings an action against another is called the "Plaintiff." The person against whom the action is brought is the "Defendant." In a criminal trial, the State of Florida, brings the action, represented by a Assistant State Attorney from the State Attorney's Office. The "defendant" is a person or corporation accused of a violation of law.
Important Things to Remember During the Trial
After you are sworn as a juror in a case, there are some rules of conduct you should observe:
- 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.
In Accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, persons needing a special accommodation to participate in jury service should contact the Court Administration Office no later than seven days prior to the date shown on the summons. Please call (863)534-4690 to make arrangements.