Questions and Answers

 

The Circuit Court for Prince George's County Welcomes All - A Fair Forum for Justice

Office of the Jury Commissioner

14735 Main Street
Courthouse, Room M2400
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
Jury Office: 301-952-4385

Why me?

Every eligible resident of Prince George’s County may become part of a jury pool, every three years. A computer randomly identifies those residents who will become part of the jury pool for each day’s trials. Today is your lucky day!


My summons says Petit Jury. What does that mean?

A Petit Jury is a trial jury. If you are summoned for a petit jury pool, you must appear on the date of your summons, if your group is required to report.


How long must I serve as a juror?

If your group is required to report, your jury service will be AT LEAST that entire day.

Jury panels—the group from whom the trial jury is chosen—may be selected throughout the day, and sometimes over several days. If you are selected for a jury panel, you must return for jury service until you, or your panel, are excused. Sometimes, selection of a jury takes more than one day; everyone in the jury panel for that trial must return until the judge excuses you.

If you are selected to serve on the jury for a case, you must continue to report for jury duty until your case is concluded, and you are excused by the judge. That’s the one day/one trial system!


How often can I be called for jury service?

You are required to come to court for jury service only once within three years. If you have completed jury service in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County less than three years before the date you are summoned to appear, you may ask to be excused based on your previous service.


Why do I have to fill out the Questionnaire?

The Questionnaire asks for information to make sure that you are legally qualified to serve as a juror. You are legally required to answer these questions truthfully. Your name, age, town, marital status, highest level of education, occupation, and your spouse’s occupation, will appear on the jury information sheet given to the judge and lawyers in the courtroom; all other information will only be reviewed by the Jury Judge, Jury Commissioner, and their designees.


When and where do I report for Jury Duty?

On the date of your summons, if your group must report, you must be in the Jury Assembly Room, Courthouse, Room M-2400, in Upper Marlboro by 7:30 a.m. Bring your summons with you!


Who is qualified to serve as a juror?

If you are a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old, and a resident of Prince George’s County on the date summoned, you are legally qualified to serve as a juror. You may not be prevented from serving because of your race, religion, sex, color, disability, economic status, or national origin.


Who is disqualified from jury service?

If you are a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, and a resident of Prince George’s County you may still be disqualified if you:

  • cannot read, write, speak or understand the English language,
  • have a disability that prevents you from serving on a jury (as explained in writing from your health care provider to the court),
  • were sentenced to more than six months in prison and have not been pardoned, or
  • have criminal charges pending against you for a crime punishable by more than six months in prison.

Who is exempt from Jury Duty?

Even if you are legally qualified for jury service, you may be exempt—released from your obligation—if you are:

  • At least 70 years old, and request exemption (you can write your request on your Juror Qualification form),
  • A member of the United States Congress, or
  • A member of the armed forces of the United States or the Maryland militia—and your commanding officer or supervisor writes a letter explaining that you are on active duty and cannot serve on jury duty.

How do I get to the courthouse?

Directions and areas for parking are included on the summons; please park at the Equestrian Center (Show Place Arena). Directions can also be found using this link.


Courthouse Entrance:

Jurors are encouraged to enter the courthouse through the Marbury entrance. BRING YOUR SUMMONS to show to the Security Officer.


What if I cannot report for jury service?

You are expected to be at the courthouse on the date and time printed on the summons, unless your group was instructed not to report; in which case you will receive a notice the following year informing you of the date you are summoned to appear. If you have an emergency and you cannot come to court on your assigned date, call the Jury Office on, 301-952-4385 (Mon. through Fri., 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.). You will be assigned a new date for jury service.


What will happen when I get to court?

When you first enter the courthouse, you will go through a metal detector. You will be asked to put personal belongings in a tray and your handbag, briefcase or other objects may be put through an x-ray machine. Weapons, knives and any kind of sharp objects are prohibited. If you try to enter the courthouse with a weapon, etc., it will be confiscated and you may be arrested. This is for the security and safety of everyone in the courthouse.

You will then be directed to the jury room (M2400) where you will be checked in by a jury clerk and given attendance. You will be directed to take a seat after which the orientation will take place.


What should I do if I have children?

Children are not allowed to come with you when you report for jury service. Childcare is not available at the courthouse. Please, do not bring children or adults needing care with you. If you cannot find childcare, or come to court as scheduled, please contact the Jury Office at 301-952-4385 to reschedule.


What should I wear for Jury Duty?

There is no formal dress code – but you are in a courthouse and you must dress appropriately for the seriousness of the proceedings.

Acceptable:

  • Clothing that is neat, clean, comfortable and not revealing.
  • Clothing worn for an office job or for a job interview.
  • Slacks and a shirt with a collar for men.
  • Dress, skirt or slacks and a blouse for women.

Not acceptable:

  • Uniforms (e.g., law enforcement, military, medical, work, etc., except when worn for religious reasons).
  • Employer badges or work name tags.
  • T-shirts with logos, graphic T-shirts (T-shirts with words or pictures), or undershirts worn as the top layer of clothing.
  • Beach or athletic wear.
  • Abbreviated clothing (for example, shorts, cut-offs, muscle shirts, halter or tank tops, bare midriffs, exposed undergarments, etc.).
  • See-through clothing.
  • Hats (except when worn for religious reasons).

Also consider:

Dressing in clothing that is not acceptable or that causes disruption to court proceedings may result in an extension of your service term or another sanction. 

You may spend time in a jury deliberation room, so please do not wear strong fragrances. 

The courthouse may be chilly – bring a sweater or jacket.


What can I bring to the Courthouse?

You might have to wait, so you may want to bring work or something to read with you. The courthouse may be cold – bring a sweater or jacket.


Electronic devices:

You can generally bring an electronic device (for example, laptop, cell phone, MP3 player), but use is limited or prohibited in certain areas.

Electronic devices must be turned off, inoperable, and not used in a courtroom. In some courthouses, they are not permitted in the courtroom even if turned off.

Electronic devices cannot be brought into the jury deliberation room.

If you violate the restrictions, your electronic device may be confiscated by security or other court personnel, and you may be arrested.

Be conscious of noise – if you use your electronic device to listen to music, videos, etc., you must use headphones so you do not disturb courthouse staff or your fellow jurors.

While you are on jury service, including while you are in the jury assembly area, you cannot use your electronic device to research, investigate or communicate regarding any case for which you might serve on the jury. You cannot, for example, research a case using online media outlets or other websites. You also cannot communicate about a case on a blog or using social networking, Twitter, text, instant messaging, telephone or email.


Should I bring lunch?

Jurors are permitted to bring their lunch into the Jury Lounge however; food and drinks are not permitted in the courtrooms. There are refrigerators and microwave ovens at the courthouse. Jurors who prefer to eat out will find that there are restaurants near the courthouse; Be sure to be back at the courthouse at the time the judge or Jury Office tells you to return.


Where can I smoke?

Smoking is not permitted inside the Courthouse. You will only be permitted to smoke when you go outside during any court recess.


What if I have a personal emergency?

Because your absence can delay a trial, it is important that you report each day you are required. If you become ill or have a family emergency (such as a sudden illness, accident or death in the family) on the day you are to report for jury service or during a trial:

  1. Call the Jury Office (301-952-4385) immediately for instructions. Be sure to leave a message with full contact information if no one answers the phone.
  2. If you report that you are ill, you may be told to ask your physician to send a medical excuse to the Jury Office.

What if my family has an emergency while I’m in a trial?

Your family can call the Jury Office, and identify you by name. If possible, your family should also know the name of the judge presiding over the case; that will make it easier for us to find you.


How will I know if the Court is closed in an emergency?

The courthouse may be closed if there is severe weather or another emergency. If you are serving on a jury as a trial juror, follow the trial judge’s instructions. Otherwise, you can find out if the courthouse is closed by:

Calling the “call-in” number on your Juror Summons (301-952-4387),

Public service announcements on your local television or radio station.


Important! Call the court only on the date and after the time on the summons.

If the recorded message tells you not to come to court for jury service, you will have completed your jury obligation only for the remainder of the court year.

If you are told to come to court, you must do so. If, for any reason, you are unable to make telephone contact with the court or have any questions about the message, assume you must come to court for jury service.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why did I receive a Juror Qualification Form?

You received the Juror Qualification Form because your name was randomly selected from the source pool of Voters’ Registration and Motor Vehicle Administration which is used to identify prospective jurors.


2. What is the Juror Summons?

For a prospective juror, a “summons” is a written order issued by a court that requires the prospective juror to report for jury service at a specific date and time. In Prince George’s County, a summons is included with the Juror Qualification Form.


3. Who can serve on a jury?

Anyone who is “qualified” can serve on a jury. While no citizen can be kept from serving on a jury because of her or his color, disability, economic status, national origin, race, religion, or sex, a person can be “disqualified” or “exempt” from being on a jury for other reasons. 

Qualified. You are “qualified” (meaning you meet the statutory requirements to be a juror) if you:

  • Are at least 18 years of age – and there is no “upper age limit”,
  • Are a U.S. citizen, and
  • Reside in the county in which you would serve as a juror.
  • Disqualified. You cannot serve on a jury – you are “disqualified” – if you:
  • Cannot read, write, speak or understand the English language,
  • Have a disability that prevents you from providing satisfactory jury service (this must be documented by a health care provider),
  • Have been convicted of a crime punishable by more than 6 months in prison, were sentenced to more than 6 months in prison and have not been pardoned, or
  • Have criminal charges pending for a crime that is punishable by more than 6 months in prison.
  • Exempt. Even if you are qualified to be on a jury, you might be released from that responsibility (be “exempt” from jury service) if you are:
  • At least 70 years old, and you made a written request to the Jury Office to be exempted (you can do this on the Juror Qualification Form),
  • A member of the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, or
  • An active duty member of the armed forces or the state militia. The additional criteria for this exemption are set out on the form that must be completed by your commanding officer or supervisor.

4. Who do I contact if I need an accommodation to serve on a jury?

If you have a disability and need an accommodation, please contact the Jury Office (301-952-4385) as soon as possible after receiving your Juror Summons. The Judiciary is committed to providing prospective jurors with an equal opportunity to participate in jury service.

If you believe that you have a disability that prevents satisfactory completion of jury service, you must submit a written signed statement from your health care provider explaining that you are not able to satisfactorily perform jury duty.


5. Can I volunteer for jury service?

No, Maryland law specifically states that volunteers for jury service must be refused. The law is Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, Section 8-102(d).

This helps ensure that the jury is selected at random and from a cross section of citizens.


6. Can I be excused from jury service?

Under certain very limited circumstances, you can be excused from jury service.

  • You must show that excusal is required because of extreme inconvenience, public necessity, or undue hardship.
  • Being excused is intended to be used only for the most serious of situations. It is not a way to avoid jury service because it is inconvenient or you do not want to serve.
  • Being excused does not mean that you will never be called for jury service. An excusal is good only for that calendar year. When that period ends, you will become available to be called for jury service again.

 

If you believe that your circumstances meet the criteria for being excused, please write a letter stating such.


7. Can I change the date of my jury service?

Yes, your date of jury service sometimes can be changed if there is a pressing reason, for example, a previously scheduled medical procedure or travel plans.


8. Will I be paid for my jury service?

Yes.

  • Per diem. You will receive a reimbursement (the “per diem”) for each day of jury service. The amount is $15 daily. If you serve on one trial jury for more than 5 days, the per diem becomes $50 beginning on the 6th day of jury service.
  • Generous Juror Program: A voluntary program (called the Generous Juror Program) which permits jurors to donate the per diem to the local department of social services. The money is used by the Department for the children it serves. The money may be used, for example, for school supplies, special tutoring or recreational activities.

9. How many days will I be on jury service?

The length of jury service is one day or one trial. A trial may last more than one day. Your Judge will advise you on the duration.


10. Why am I being asked to serve on a jury again?

In general, you are not required to serve on a jury, or attend court for jury service, more than once every 3 years.


11. Is there a penalty if I do not appear for jury service or do not complete my service?

Yes.

  • If you do not appear for jury service at the date and time directed by the summons, you can be fined for up to $1,000, put in jail for up to 60 days, or both.
  • If you do not complete jury service, you can be fined for up to $1,000, put in jail for up to 90 days, or both.

 

The relevant laws are Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, Sections 8-504 and 8-505.

There are also penalties for failing to complete the Juror Qualification Form accurately and for not returning that Form. You can learn more about these penalties here.


12. Does the law protect my employment if I am on jury service?

Protections. The law has several protections for employees. Your employer cannot:

  • Fire you (or coerce, intimidate or threaten to fire you) because you lost time from work as a result of attending court for jury service or because you had to be in proximity to the court for jury service.
  • Fire you (or coerce, intimidate or threaten to fire you) if you exercise your right (under certain circumstances) not to work on a day on which you are on jury service.
  • Require you to use your leave (annual, sick or vacation) for jury service.
  • Under certain circumstances, require you to work on a day on which you are on jury service. If you are summoned and you appear for jury service for 4 or more hours, including traveling time, your employer cannot require you to work an employment shift that begins:
    • On or after 5 p.m. on the day of your appearance for jury service; or
    • Before 3 a.m. on the day after your appearance for jury service.

Pay. Your employer does not have to pay you for the time that you are on jury service, although some employers do pay their employees for the time the employees are on jury service.

Laws. These protections are found in Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceeding Article, Sections 8-501 and 8-502. Any person who violates these laws may be fined up to $1,000.

Documentation. The Jury Office can issue you a certificate that documents the number of days you were on a jury service. You can provide this certificate if your employer wants documentation of your jury service.


13. Will I lose my unemployment benefits if I serve on a jury?

No. Under Maryland law, you will not be denied unemployment benefits because you had jury service and were unable to work or seek work. The relevant law is Maryland Annotated Code, Labor & Employment Article, Sections 8-101(z)(3)(x), 8-907(a) and 8-1108(a)(1)). For more information, you can contact the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.


14. What is the difference between a grand jury and a trial jury?

  • A grand jury decides whether there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime. A grand jury also can conduct investigations.
  • A trial jury - traditionally called a "petit jury" - listens to evidence in a courtroom, and decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant in a criminal case, and the liability and damages of the parties in a civil case. Most jurors serve on a trial jury.
  • You will not be asked to serve on more than one grand jury at the same time, or as both a grand juror and a trial juror.

15. How do I report for jury service?

Call in. The Jury Office tries to summons only as many people as will be needed for jury selection on a particular day. Sometimes fewer people are needed than was originally thought, as cases settle, trials are postponed, etc. Your Juror Summons will tell you whether, and how, to call in prior to reporting for jury service to make sure you are needed for jury service. If, after checking, you are told not to report, do not go to the courthouse. You may be called to jury service sometime in the future. Report on the date set out in your Juror Summons:

  • Arrive at the courthouse early enough that you can get through security and still be on time. Your summons tells you what time you have to be in the room identified on the summons.
  • Bring your Juror Summons and a photo identification with you. You must bring both with you each time you come to the courthouse.
  • Go to the room identified on your summons.

16. Is everyone who appears for jury service selected to sit on a jury?

No. More individuals are called to jury service than are selected to serve on a jury. This is in part because there have to be enough jurors to hear each case and allow for challenges. 

In addition, some cases end up not needing any jury at all. Cases often settle at the last minute, sometimes even after a jury is selected. Your presence as a prospective juror may have been what was needed to encourage the parties to come to a resolution themselves.


17. Can I bring my cell phone, laptop or MP3 player?

Yes, you can generally bring an electronic device (for example, laptop, cell phone, I pads, and e-readers), but use is limited or prohibited in certain areas.

  • Electronic devices must be turned off, inoperable, and not used in a courtroom. In some courthouses, they are not permitted in the courtroom even if turned off.
  • Electronic devices cannot be brought into the jury deliberation room.
  • If you violate the restrictions, your electronic device may be confiscated by security or other court personnel, and you may be arrested.
  • Be conscious of noise – if you use your electronic device to listen to music, videos, etc., you must use headphones so you do not disturb courthouse staff or your fellow jurors.
  • While you are on jury service, including while you are in the jury assembly area, you cannot use your electronic device to research, investigate or communicate regarding any case for which you might serve on the jury. You cannot, for example, research a case using online media outlets or other websites. You also cannot communicate about a case on a blog or using social networking, Twitter, text, instant messaging, telephone or email, etc.

18. Can I investigate a case on my own while I am on jury service?

No. Grand juries and trial juries must reach their decisions based solely on the evidence and instructions presented in court. So, jurors – and prospective jurors - cannot act as investigators and cannot independently investigate a case they are hearing (or might hear).


19. Can I use social media while I am on jury service?

Yes, but you must follow guidelines that may change how you use social media. In short, while you are on jury service, you cannot use social media to investigate or talk about any matter that is, or might be, before the jury.


20. How long will I be at the courthouse?

Generally, you should plan to be at the courthouse all day for every day that you are told to report. Except for a brief lunch break, do not expect to be permitted to leave to run errands or pick your children up from school, etc.


21. How are my safety and privacy protected?

Your safety. The court takes juror safety very seriously. If you have any reason to believe that your safety is at risk, tell the judge, courtroom personnel, or your local Jury Office.

Criminal cases. Protections include:

  • Cameras are not permitted in the courtroom.
  • The case will not be broadcast on television or radio.
  • Jurors are referred to by juror number, and not by name, during court proceedings in the courtroom and in chambers.
  • The information about you that is given to the judge, attorneys and parties during jury selection is limited. Under certain very narrow circumstances, the judge can impose further restrictions on the information that is released.

Important Links to Policies and Statues

Policy on Electronics in the courthouse

http://www.courts.state.md.us/reference/cellphonenotice.html

http://www.courts.state.md.us/juryservice/atcourthouse.html

http://www.courts.state.md.us/juryservice/pdfs/trialjuryservice.pdf

http://www.courts.state.md.us/juryservice/pdfs/grandjuryservice.pdf

http://mdcourts.gov/juryservice/docs/militaryexemption.pdf

Failure to Appear for Jury Duty

Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-504
Disqualification, excusal, or exemption from or postponement of duty
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-402

Failure to return completed juror qualification form

Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-503

Failure to complete jury service
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-505

Material misrepresentation
Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-506

Please visit the Jury Service website where you will find FAQ for employers and employees, do's and don'ts during trial and deliberations, and more.