From the Desk of Stacy M. Butterfield

Jun 01

[ARCHIVED] Jury Service Guide

The original item was published from May 31, 2023 10:20 AM to June 1, 2023 9:58 AM

You’ve Got Mail! What to Expect When You Receive a Jury Summons

 

We know a jury summons isn’t the most anticipated piece of mail you may receive, but it is extremely important. We want to make the process as easy and transparent as possible. We’ve put together this quick guide so you know what to expect heading into jury service.

Front of Jury Summons

 MAIN TAKEAWAYS

  1. Check the night before to verify if you are called for service or not.
  2. If you are called, you must attend to avoid penalties.
  3. Everything you need to know is available on our website and jury app.


What To Do When You Receive a Summons


Why Did I Receive a Summons?
You are eligible to be called for jury service if you are 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 Vehicle (FLHSMV). Names are then randomly selected from the list provided by FLHSMV.

How Do I Get Out of Jury Duty?
You may be eligible to be excused completely from jury duty or to postpone your date. However, if you are not eligible for either, you must appear if your number is called.

Postponement: If you are not able to serve on the date you were originally scheduled, you may request one postponement. Simply complete our online form and you will be issued a new summons for a different date. This request must be submitted at least 5 days before your service.

Excusals: If you are eligible for an excusal you must submit the request online or by mail using the information on your summons. Excusal criteria are listed on your summons and our jury page.

Do I Need to Report? Verify Your Service is Needed the Night Before Your Date.
Your service may not be required! Verify if your number is called to report the evening before your scheduled date. You can verify online or by calling 863-534-4582. Many people miss this step and make an unnecessary trip to the courthouse.

If you are called for service, you must complete the juror questionnaire before arriving. This is available in our juror app under the “Prepare for Jury Duty” option.

What Happens If I Don’t Go to Jury Duty?
If you receive a summons and your number is called, you must appear for jury duty. If you fail to appear, a fine may be imposed and it could be considered contempt of court.

 

What to Expect When You Arrive for Service


What Can I Bring to Jury Duty?
Bring your jury summons or the QR code you received when you completed your questionnaire. These will be used to check you in. You may bring your cell phone and reading materials, except for newspapers.

What Do I Wear to Jury Duty?
Casual business attire is required. Courtrooms are generally cold, and you may wish to bring a sweater or light jacket for your comfort.

 Where Do I Park for Jury Duty:

Lakeland & Northeast: Free surface parking is available at the front of each building.

Bartow: The Blue Parking Lot is reserved for juror parking at the Bartow courthouse. This lot is directly west of the courthouse on West Davidson Street. Type in West Davidson Street on your GPS. As you near the courthouse, follow the signs to the Blue Parking Lot. This lot opens at 7 a.m., and there will be an attendant at the gate to assist you.

All parking lots near the courthouse provide free parking in case you have trouble finding the Blue Parking Lot. You may park in any of these lots. A paid parking garage is also available in the area. However, parking garage fees will not be reimbursed.Blue Sign with White Lettering That Says Blue Lot

 

Which Building Is It?
Lakeland and Northeast jurors, there is only one building at these sites so you will enter through the front doors of the buildings.

In Bartow, there are two, multi-story government buildings. Jury service occurs in the courthouse. The courthouse is the tallest building, 10 stories high, and has a green roof. The Board of County Commissioners’ administrative building is the other. It has an orange roof and is five stories high. Head to the front of the tall building with a green roof. You must use the main entrance on the north side of the building. The side entrances are employee entrances.

Road View of Bartow Courthouse

 Will I have to Pass Through Security at the Courthouse?

You will pass through a security screening when you enter each of the courthouses. Please be sure not to bring anything that might set off the alarm, like guns, knives, scissors, pepper spray, chains, tools, etc. You will have to remove your belt and everything out of your pockets. You must also remove your keys and cell phone from your bag. Bags will then be run through a screener.

Where is the Jury Office Located?

Lakeland and Northeast : Once you enter, you will follow the signs to the Clerk’s office.

Bartow: You will proceed to the second floor. A member of our team will greet you as you exit security and direct you to the second floor. If you happen to miss them, you just need to use the elevator banks on either side of the lobby to proceed to the second floor. You will then see the jury check-in stations. Our team will help you from there.

 Elavator Direction in Courthouse Lobby

What Happens During Jury Selection?
Once you check-in, you will be taken to the courtroom. You'll be introduced to the judge and officers of the court involved in the trial for which you are being considered. This phase of the process is called voir dire. Both the judge and the attorneys will pose screening questions. They will then meet privately to decide who will serve as jurors in the case. There are no right or wrong answers, you just need to be honest with your answers. 

The judge and attorneys will return to the courtroom to announce their selections. Those not selected will be released. You can obtain your work certificate on our jury app under the “Check Jury Status” option or by visiting the jury department on the second floor before leaving the courthouse. 

Jury Service
The judge and attorneys will then explain what to expect for the remainder of your service. They will let you know how many days are expected to be needed for the trial and all other details of how to properly serve on a jury panel.

Thank You for Your Service
We know jury service can be intimidating. We are here to guide you through each step of the process and let us know if you have any questions.