Who is Eligible for a Jury Summons?

L. Dunne

There are some common qualifications that must be met before people are eligible to receive a jury summons, but other factors come into play, depending on the jurisdiction. In some U.S. states, only individuals who are registered to vote will be called to jury duty. Other states take information from the local departments of motor vehicles or information collected in a census. Many states use multiple lists to populate their list of eligible jury participants. There are some factors which can exclude someone from being eligible to receive a jury summons.

A peremptory challenge may be used to dismiss a possible juror who demonstrates a bias concerning the issues that will be discussed over the course of the trial.
A peremptory challenge may be used to dismiss a possible juror who demonstrates a bias concerning the issues that will be discussed over the course of the trial.

Common eligibility requirements are that an individual must be a United States citizen and be 18 years old. Additionally, the individual must have lived in the jurisdiction for at least one year and be proficient in writing, reading, understanding and speaking English. The potential juror must not currently be under investigation or indictment for any felonies and must not have any felony convictions. The person must also be mentally capable of sitting on the jury. Three groups will always be ineligible for jury duty — active members of the armed forces, active duty police officers and members of the fire department (non-volunteers), and public officials or members of government offices.

A jury is a group of citizens who are tasked with determining whether an accused party is guilty or not guilty.
A jury is a group of citizens who are tasked with determining whether an accused party is guilty or not guilty.

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Some states use voter registration lists to populate the jury summons pool. Initially, this caused a decline in the number of registered voters, as many people do not want to be called for jury duty, and some courts have turned to other sources. Sometimes, the jury summons list is taken from information given in a U.S. or even local census. Some information on the census may be incorrect or outdated though, making this an unpopular choice. In most states the list is updated once or twice a year to keep it accurate.

A jury summons demands the presence of a citizen in court for jury duty.
A jury summons demands the presence of a citizen in court for jury duty.

Voter registration lists are often used in conjunction with the local department or bureau of motor vehicles records. By using both voter rolls and driver's license lists, the court is able to gather a larger pool. Some individuals are not registered to vote but are licensed to drive while others may be registered but are not licensed drivers or moter vehicle owners. Duplicates are purged from this list, but only exact duplicates. If an individual is registered to vote under a slightly different name or a different address, he or she might be called more than once as the name appears more than once in the jury summons pool.

Some states use voter registration lists to populate the jury summons pool.
Some states use voter registration lists to populate the jury summons pool.

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