You have been randomly selected from either Voter Registration records or Motor Vehicle Administration records to serve as a juror in the Circuit Court for Covington County. If you believe you are ineligible to serve as a juror, or unable to serve this term, please call the phone number on the summons you received. A court representative will give you instructions.
Most of those selected will serve as Trial Jurors. The term of service for Trial Jurors is usually one week. If a juror reports to the courthouse and is not selected for a trial, that juror will be on call for one week. The length of trials vary, but the current average is two to three days.
DO NOT REPORT FOR JURY DUTY IF YOU HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AND ARE REQUIRED TO BE IN QUARANTINE OR HAVE BEEN IN CLOSE-CONTACT WITH A PERSON WHO HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19.
The Importance of Your Service:
Trial by jury is the foundation of the American judicial system. In a civil case, it is the duty of a jury to decide issues of fact in disputes over matters such as property rights, contract rights and damages for personal injury. In a criminal case, it is the individuals who serve on juries that the parties rely upon for the protection of life, liberty and property. The performance of jury service is the fulfillment of a civic obligation. Our system of justice will not work without your participation.
The most important function of a juror is to listen to all evidence presented at trial, and to decide the facts of the case. The Judge is there to determine the legal aspects of the case and to keep the trial moving forward.
The Jury Selection Process:
The names of potential jurors are selected at random from driver and voter registration records. Covington County jurors must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of Covington County.
Your summons will indicate whether you have been called to serve on Grand Jury or Trial Jury duty.
Grand Jurors usually serve for one week. Grand Jury cases are criminal in nature, and require jurors to determine if there is enough evidence to charge a defendant and bring him or her to trial. Although rare, grand jurors are subject to being recalled to duty if necessary. That period of recall lasts until the next grand jury is sworn in.
Jurors summoned to serve on Trial Jury duty in Covington County are on call for one week. That does not mean that a juror will be in court every day.
The first morning of Jury Duty serves as a brief orientation. The judge will determine eligibility and qualifications of the prospective jurors and excuse those who cannot serve. At this point, Jurors are asked to do one of the most difficult parts of Jury Duty - wait. Many court proceedings cannot be held without jurors, which is why a pool of potential jurors must be assembled and ready before the court starts its day. However, once assembled a variety of things can occur which can mean delays, (e.g. settlement efforts between parties).
After the jurors are all qualified, the judge will call a specific case to try. All jurors will take an oath to answer all questions truthfully, and the Judge will explain the case. At this point, jurors will be questioned by the Judge and the attorneys during the voir dire process. The purpose of voir dire is for the judge and attorneys to make sure you have no prior knowledge of the case, and that you have no personal interest or feelings that could impact your ability to be impartial. These questions are not intended to embarrass jurors - but are essential when selecting an impartial jury which will be best suited to rendering an unbiased decision.
Some jurors may never be called for a case. This is especially true should all cases scheduled for a given day end in settlement. Taking a matter to court is a measure of last resort, and the court encourages parties to settle their own differences. Should all cases for a given day settle, jurors will be excused.
Other Useful Information:
Jurors should wear comfortable but conservative clothing. Any concerns regarding what clothing is appropriate should be referred to the Administrative Order detailing Dress Code.
In the event a potential juror is unable to serve, there are two avenues that should be followed to be excused from jury service. The first option is to call and speak with a Judicial Assistant and explain the conflict or circumstances that prevent the ability to serve. The phone number can be found on your jury summons. The second option is to report to jury duty on the Monday that is designated and explain to the Judge the conflict and/or concerns of fulfilling the service.
Thank you in advance for your service.
Charles A. Short
Circuit Judge, Place 1
Benjamin M. Bowden
Circuit Judge, Place 2