Answers to All Your Questions about Jury Duty in NJ
Aita Law LLC has prepared this FAQ to answer the most common questions about jury duty. If your question is not answered here, please check the State of NJs FAQ, which you can read by clicking here.
Jury Duty Reporting
What to do when your jury duty notice arrives
After the State of New Jersey draws your name for jury service, will receive a notice in the mail. This will arrive approximately a month before your court date. The notice will have your jury service information. This includes the date you must report, an ID number for you as a jurist, and a questionnaire to certify that you are legally qualified to be a juror. You must complete this questionnaire. The most convenient way is to enter your juror ID number at the New Jersey Courts website. If you want to be excused from jury duty, the possible reasons for exemption can be found on the paper questionnaire. To file for an exemption, it must be mailed in with supporting documents like a doctor’s note.
What to do on the first day of court.
If you are selected as a petit juror, you will be given a number to call the night before your first court day. You are essentially on call for two days, and only need to appear if summoned as a jurist. If you are, arrive early at your county courthouse to find parking. You will wait with the other jurors while a selection process plays out in the courtroom. There is a chance you won’t even be called to service the first day. You may be asked a series of questions, and you may be sent home early from jury duty. This isn’t a penalty. Both sides in a jury trial want unbiased jurors. If you have a strong connection to the case or the victim, neither side will want you. Lawyers at a trial can even reject a limited number of jurists for no reason at all.
What to Wear to Jury Duty
You don’t need to buy a new wardrobe for jury duty, but there are rules you must follow. You may not enter the courthouse wearing shorts, t-shirts, or open-toe shoes. Women may not wear revealing dresses. It is best to dress like you were going to an airport, because you’ll face many of the same obstacles, like long waits in crowded rooms and invasive security checks.
Speaking of security checks, try to avoid wearing anything sharply pointed or metal. Chains, pins, hair clips, or other decorations will slow down the security process, and metal in your clothing, like steel-toed work boots, might trigger alarms and earn you a strip search. The same goes for excessively baggy clothes that may interfere with a security-wand weapons checks.
What happens if you miss jury duty?
If you fail to appear or respond to a jury summons, you will be found in contempt of court. It doesn’t matter, legally, whether you “missed” court, “forgot” about the court date, or just ignored it. Not showing up to a jury once summoned is a crime.
The exact punishment will be decided by the judge presiding over the trial, but a bench warrant for your arrest will likely be issued, and jail time or fines of over $500 will be imposed once you are arrested. Simply put, a few days in the juror’s seat are better than thirty days in a county jail. Whatever you do, don’t miss jury duty.
Getting Out of Jury Duty
New Jersey’s code provides many official exemptions to jury service. These will be listed on your jury summons, and you will be expected to provide documentation to back the request.
New Jersey Jury Duty Exemptions
- You are older than 75. Seniors have an automatic exemption from jury service, but they can still serve if they want to.
- You recently served on a jury. You can’t serve on a jury more than once in 3 years. This doesn’t count out-of-state or Federal District Court juries.
- You have a legal disability. With a signed letter from your physician, you don’t have to serve on jury duty if you are disabled.
- You can’t afford to miss work. If the lost wages or childcare costs from jury service are a burden, you can request an exemption.
- You are the legal caregiver for a child or elderly person. If you can’t find a replacement, the state will consider an exemption.
- You are a full-time teacher. A letter from your superintendent saying you are needed in the classroom will grant you an exemption.
- You are a specialized medical professional. General nurses and family physicians aren’t exempt, but those in specialty positions can request exemptions if their work cannot easily be covered by a colleague
- You are on active duty in the Armed Forces.
These exemptions are not taken lightly, and you will be asked to send documentation. The state will follow up if the documents are suspicious, and forgery or misrepresentation will earn you a permanent juror disqualification: a criminal record.
How long does jury duty last in New Jersey?
There are three levels of Jury Service, each with different terms:
- Petit Jurors: Two days of jury selection at the courthouse. If they’re selected, Petit Jurors serve the length of the trial.
- Grand Jurors: Serve one day a week for 16 weeks, at their local County Courthouse..
- State Grand Jurors: Serve one day a week for 20 weeks, in Trenton.
How much do jurors get paid in New Jersey:
New Jersey only pays $5 dollars a day to jurors. Petit Jurors will receive an extra $35 if their service extends past four days. Your employer can’t fire you for going to jury duty, but they are under no obligation to pay you.
Employees of the State of New Jersey will receive their normal wage while serving as a juror. They may not collect additional juror compensation. Those who are on unemployment will not lose their benefits during jury service, not will it make them “unavailable to work” for the purposes of unemployment.
Juror Selection in New Jersey
How are jurors chosen in New Jersey?
New Jersey has a computerized selection system. The system randomly draws names from a list to meet the needs of the court system for jury selection. This list combines the names of registered voters, licensed drivers, filers of N.J. personal income tax returns, and applicants for homestead rebates. Efforts are made to keep only one entry for each New Jersey citizen, even if their name is in the system multiple times. Unless you really like jury service, this makes it a good idea to keep correct information on file with the state. Filling out your taxes as Maryanne McNamara when your driver’s license says Mary Anne McNamara, will create hard-to-fix double entries in the system.
What are the qualifications for New Jersey jury service?
The automated selection system can end up summoning just about anyone. However, New Jersey has specific qualifications to serve as a juror:
- You must be a legal NJ resident
- You must be a US Citizen.
- You must be 18 or older.
- You must be fluent in English
- You cannot have a criminal record.
If any of these conditions are not met, you can’t serve as a juror. But even if you are qualified, there are many official exemptions to get out of jury duty.
What happens if I get a jury summons after I’ve moved out of New Jersey?
You won’t be required (or even eligible) to serve as a juror if you live out of state. This is usually caused by slowly updating records. You can simply fill out the juror questionnaire online and note your residency as an automatic disqualifier. Alternatively, you can mail the paper questionnaire back with a note that you’ve moved and a copy of proof of residency at your new address. The summons system should be updated either way.
What happens if I get a jury summons for a deceased family member?
The state’s records are slow to update. Unfortunately for grieving families, this often means a jury summons is mailed to someone who has passed away. If this happens, it doesn’t mean you will be required to go in their place. There isn’t even an obligation to respond to such mailings, but New Jersey respectfully asks the family member who receives such a notice to fill out the jury questionnaire and write deceased under the change of address form. This will ensure no more summons are mailed, or enforcement actions are taken.