All U.S. citizens who are over the age of 18, a resident of the county that issued the jury summons, and able to understand the English language are eligible to serve on a jury in the state of California. Of these people, only convicted felons, meaning anyone who has been found guilty of a serious crime, cannot serve.Juror Summons
Once you have received a jury summons, read the instructions carefully. Currently, each county uses a slightly different summons that asks people to respond in different ways. There will always be a phone number on the summons. If you have any questions, contact the jury office of the court that summoned you at that phone number. Be sure to bring your summons with you when your report to court.Postponing Service
If you are unable to serve during the time requested on your summons, contact your local jury office to ask for a one-time postponement. You can ask for a postponement until a reasonable time in the future when you can arrange your schedule so that jury service is convenient for you. You may have to appear at the courthouse in order to tell the judge the reasons why you cannot serve. Please be prepared to come to court at the time and place the summons says.Excuses for Undue Hardship
In certain serious cases, the jury commissioner or the judge may excuse you for up to one year. These are called undue hardship cases. If you have a personal situation that stops you from being able to serve, submit your reason in writing attach to a copy of your summons and mail it back to the local jury office. When listing reasons such as medical, job, or dependent care issues, be prepared to receive a postponement and not an excuse. If your request is for medical reasons, please attach a note from your doctor explaining the extent of your medical condition.Disqualification
A person is disqualified or excused if he or she is a felon, nonresident, noncitizen, under a conservatorship, or a peace officer. If you fall into one of these categories, contact your jury office in writing to explain your situation.Job and School
Your employer must allow you time off to serve on a jury. This is the law. Section 230 of the California Labor Code is intended to prevent any employer from firing or harassing an employee who is summoned for jury service and who has given reasonable notice of when the employee is to serve. Notice is generally considered reasonable if it is given as soon as possible once the employee has been summoned. The California Education Code (§§ 44037 and 8 7036) and Rule of Court 5.5(d)(7) protect teachers, other school employees, and students as well. If you are harassed or fired, contact your local jury office or the judge assigned to your trial. If your employer has harassed you because of your service on a jury, contact the Department of Industrial Relation's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You must complete a complaint form and turn it in to the Labor Board within six months from when the harassment happened.
Remember to keep any certificate issued by the judge to prove that you served and for your employer's records.Juror Fees
California allows payment of $15 a day for second and subsequent days of service plus mileage of 34 cents per
mile one way for jury service. For reimbursement, ask your
local jury office or the bailiff in the
courtroom for more specific information for your local court.
Although this is only a fraction of the cost of each juror's time, the courts are working with the Legislature and the Governor to increase juror fees. For more information about innovations and improvements to the jury system, see the section on Jury System Improvement.