Jury - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a jury?

A jury is a body of qualified citizens selected and sworn to decide disputed issues of fact in a civil or criminal trial, according to the law and the evidence presented in court.

When I receive a jury summons, what do I do?

Upon receiving a jury summons, read all information and instructions carefully. The summons contains your Juror number and provides information concerning when and where to report, information regarding excusing or postponing your jury service, payment and parking instructions. Please bring your completed summons with you when reporting for jury service. The summons also provides special instructions for the juror prior to reporting. If after reading the information, you still have questions, contact Jury Administration at 352-337-6238.

Who do I contact if I have a disability?

If you are a person with a disability who needs a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator, Alachua County Family/Civil Courthouse, 201 E. University Avenue, Room 410, Gainesville, Florida, 32601 at (352) 337-6237, within two (2) working days of your receipt of this jury summons. If you are hearing impaired, call 1-800-955-8771. If you are voice impaired, call 1-800-955-8770.

What should I wear?

The dress code of the court is general business attire. To show proper respect for the court, do no wear shorts, tank tops or flip flops to court. For your comfort, because courtrooms are air-conditioned, you may wish to bring a light jacket or sweater.

What do I do if I am unable to serve?

Please return the jury summons to the Jury Office and advise in writing that you have been summoned and are not eligible to serve. To reschedule or defer your service, complete the Jury Excusal form and return it to the Jury Office. Reschedule date may not exceed six months from your original summons date.

You are ineligible to serve if you meet any of the following:

  • Not a citizen of the United States
  • No longer reside in Alachua County
  • Convicted felon and civil rights not restored
  • Under prosecution for any crime
  • Do not possess a valid Florida drivers license or identification card or have not filed an affidavit
  • Adjudicated incompetent with competency not restored
What do I do if I am unable to attend due to an emergency?

If you have an emergency situation which will prevent you from service, contact the Jury Coordinator at (352) 337-6238 or through the 8th Circuit website at oldweb.circuit8.org/excusal.html

Where do I park?

Free juror parking is at the Southwest Downtown Parking Garage. The entrance for this garage is located on SW 2ndStreet. Parking Garage Map (Google Maps).

How long will I serve?

The State of Florida utilizes a one day/one trial jury management system. That means that if you report for jury service and are not selected to serve on a jury at the end of the first day, you will not have to report again the next day. However, if you are elected, you must serve until the end of the trial or until the judge indicates that you are no longer needed.

What are valid reasons for being excused from jury service?

The following persons MUST be excused from jury service (are not allowed to serve):

  • Persons who are under 18 years of age
  • Persons who are not U.S. citizens (proof of non-citizenship must be submitted)
  • Persons who are no longer residents of Alachua County
  • Persons who served as a juror within one year of their summons date:
  • Persons presently under prosecution of a crime
  • Convicted felons who have not had their civil rights restored

The following persons are allowed to serve, but MAY be excused from jury service upon written request:

  • Persons with significant physical or mental infirmity
  • Persons responsible for the care of an infirm or disabled family member, who are not employed full-time
  • Expectant mothers
  • Caregiver of an elderly person
  • Active, full-time law enforcement officers
  • Caregiver of a child under six years of age and who are not employed fulltime
  • Persons 70 years of age or older
  • Note: Work, school or transportation hardships are not valid reasons to be excused from jury service.
ALL REQUESTS MUST BE IN WRITING. TELEPHONE REQUEST FOR EXCUSAL WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Jurors requesting to be excused must check the corresponding option number on the Excusal Request Statement, complete all the information on the juror affidavit including signature, telephone number, in order to reach you should more information be required. Mail the affidavit and any supporting documents to the address located on the juror summons or make your request through the form at oldweb.circuit8.org/excusal.html.

Where do I go for jury service?

Please check your summons carefully to verify which of the following locations you have been summoned to:

  • Alachua County Criminal Justice Center, 220 S. Main Street, Gainesville, Florida 32602
    • Criminal Justice Center Juror Instructions
      Call this number (352) 264-7099 after 5:00PM the day prior to your report date for instructions.
  • Alachua County Family & Civil Justice Center, 201 East University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida 32601
    • Family Civil Justice Center Jury Instructions
      Call this number (352) 374-3620 after 5:00PM the day prior to your report date for instructions.
JURORS NOTICED FOR THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA (FEDERAL COURT) MUST REPORT TO THE ADDRESS INDICATED ON THAT SUMMONS.
What do I do if I've lost my jury summons?

Call (352) 338-7345 for assistance.

What should I expect when reporting for jury service?

An orientation film will be shown upon arrival which explains the jury selection process. Jurors must remain in the jury pool assembly room until their panel or group is called to the courtroom. This panel or group is then asked questions in the courtroom by the judge and attorneys in a process called "Voir dire," which means "to speak the truth." These questions are not meant to embarrass. Instead, they are designed to ensure that members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences that might prevent them from making an impartial decision. The answers to these questions assist the lawyers in deciding which jurors to select to hear the case. A jury of six or twelve members will be selected and sworn for the trial. Excusals from jury service should not be taken personally, when jurors are excused, it means only that there are proper and lawful reasons for the excusals.

What is the difference between Petit and Grand Juries?

A Petit Jury will hear and decide civil and criminal cases. Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governments, government agencies, or other organizations. Usually, the party who brings the suit is seeking money damages for an alleged wrong that has been done. The party who brings the suite is called the plaintiff, and the one being sued is called the defendant. Civil trials can involve small claims, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases. Criminal cases are brought by the state against persons accused of committing a Crime. In these cases, the state is the plaintiff, and the accused person is the Defendant. Criminal trials can involve traffic, misdemeanor, felony, and capital (death penalty) cases.

A Grand Jury has broad powers to investigate a wide range of criminal offenses and to examine the performance of public officials and public institutions. Its deliberations are conducted in secret, in conjunction with the State Attorney or a designated Assistant State Attorney.

What are some general rules of conduct I should observe as a juror?
  • Jurors should observe the following general rules of conduct:
    • Be on time for court. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
    • Sit in the same seat in the jury box. This allows the clerk, judge, and lawyers to identify you more easily.
    • Listen carefully. It is important that you hear every question asked and every answer given since your verdict will be based on the evidence given. If you do not understand any portion of the trial, you should ask the judge to explain.
    • Do not talk about the case. You should not talk with anyone about the case. This includes the clerk, lawyers, judge, bailiff, and other jurors, unless you have retired to the jury room for deliberations. If anyone tries to talk to you about the case or attempts to influence you as a juror, you should report it to the judge immediately.
What happens if I do not report for jury service?

Jurors not reporting for service may be held in contempt of Court and/or fined.

Do I get paid by the State for jury service?

Jurors are paid by the state only if they are not paid by their employer during their first three days of jury service. If the Juror is not paid by his/her employer, they are paid $15.00 for each of the first three days they serve. After the third day, all jurors are paid $30.00 per day served regardless of whether or not their employer pays them for their time spent at the Courthouse.

What do I give my employer to document the time I spent on jury service?

An attendance certificate, which specifies the dates of jury service, may be obtained from the Jury Pool staff or Court Clerk at end of Juror's service.

Can I be fired from my job for serving on a jury?

No, Florida law prohibits any employer from firing an employee who is serving on jury service.

How are jurors picked from the general population?

Citizens in Alachua County are randomly selected by a computer each year to be summoned to jury service for the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Summonses are mailed, 4 - 8 weeks in advance of their scheduled service date, to citizens who possess a valid driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

What do I do if Alachua County is threatened by a tropical storm or hurricane?

All jurors can call the standby telephone number on the summons for updated reporting instructions in the event of inclement weather. Jurors summoned to the Alachua County Criminal Justice Center should call (352) 264-7099 or for the Family and Civil Justice Center call (352) 374-3620. The recorded instructions will be updated as needed as weather conditions change.