So You’ve Been Called In For Jury Duty?

by Lisa Godfrey

Jury duty is both an important civic duty and an excellent way for citizens to participate in and increase their knowledge of the judicial system. In order to ensure that your experience with the jury system is a positive one, there are certain things everyone should know and understand. The following list of questions and answers may address some issues and questions which may arise when you receive a summons for jury duty.

Who is qualified to serve on a jury? In North Carolina, jurors must be citizens and residents of the county in which they are called. They must also be eighteen (18) years of age or older, and physically and mentally competent. They must be able to hear and understand the English language. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a felony cannot serve on a jury unless they have had their citizenship restored pursuant to law. Also, if you have served on a jury in the past two (2) years, you cannot be required to serve again.

If I have a question as to whether I am qualified to serve on a jury, whom should I contact? In Lincoln County, you should call the jury coordinator at 704/736-8567, extension 251. If you are asking to be excused from jury duty, you will have to have documentary proof of your excuse. For example, if you claim you are not a U.S. citizen, the jury coordinator will need to see proof of your country of citizenship.

In addition, under a new state statute, individuals who are over the age of seventy-two (72) may request to be excused from jury duty. In order to make this request, the individual must file a signed statement showing grounds for the request with the Chief District Court Judge of Lincoln County at least five (5) days before the person is subject to appear. Again, proof of age by some document (such as a driver’s license) will be required.

From what list are the prospective jurors drawn? The source of the jury list is the voter registration roll and persons with driver’s licenses showing addresses for Lincoln County. By statute, the list is drawn at random from those sources.

Is the fact that I am a small business owner, or that my job is important, a reason to be excused from jury duty? Employment excuses are not valid reasons to be excused from jury duty. It is everyone’s public duty to serve on a jury when they are called.

If the date one is called is inconvenient for some valid reason (such as a pre-planned vacation or medical procedure), jury service can be deferred to a later date. In order to do this, it is necessary to simply follow the directions on the jury summons and contact the jury coordinator for Lincoln County.

Jury service is both a privilege and a duty. It enables citizens to see, understand and be part of the judicial system in action. Without a varied pool of jurors, both criminal and civil litigants could not be assured of their right to a jury of their peers. It is important to remember all of these things when you receive your summons for jury duty in Lincoln County.

Lisa Godfrey is an attorney in the Charlotte office of Knox Law Center. The firm’s website iswww.knoxlawcenter.com. She can be reached at 704-315-2363 or 866-704-9059 (Toll free) or lgodfrey@knoxlawcenter.com.

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