INTRODUCTION TO PETIT JURY SERVICE
Welcome to jury service in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. We hope you will find your term of jury service an interesting and satisfying experience. Your duties and responsibilities as a juror will be explained when you appear for service. This information will answer questions of a more immediate nature.
JURY SELECTION - You may wonder how you came to be called for jury duty. Your name was obtained from the voter registration list of your county, according to guidelines which assure a random selection of a fair cross-section of the community. You were then mailed a qualification form to complete. On the basis of your answers to the questions on that form you were found to be qualified to serve and were again randomly selected to be summoned as a prospective juror.
You will be "on call" for a one month period. Although you are on call, the number of times you will be required to report for jury selection may vary depending on the needs of the Court. Jurors instructed to report are rotated within the panel to help minimize appearance dates. If you are selected for a trial that exceeds the one month service period, you will be required to serve until the completion of that trial.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN TO REPORT - This Court uses a telephone call-in system to schedule jurors. You must call the recorded message every evening after 6:00 P.M. for your reporting instructions. You will be asked to key in on your telephone the nine digit identification number located next to your name and address on your summons. If you report to the Court in error, the Court is not authorized to pay you or give you credit for that day’s attendance.
REPORTING FOR DUTY - Jury duty can commence early in our Court and it is critical that you report on time. Court cannot start until all jurors are present. You should allow a full day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) for jury service. You will be sent to a courtroom for an interview process, known as voir dire, for jury selection. If you are selected to serve on a trial, the Judge will give you your instructions. If you are not selected, you should continue to call the toll-free number for your reporting instructions.
SERVICE ON A TRIAL - The number of days that you will serve varies according to the trials scheduled and the number of trials for which you are selected. You may be selected for both criminal and civil cases during your term of service. On the average, jurors serve approximately 1-3 days during a one month term of service. The Judge will adjourn the jury each evening and will instruct you on what time you must return the following morning. You must check in with the Jury Department each morning. The Judge will also indicate on the first day of service how long he/she anticipates the trial to last. If a jury is sequestered (kept together for security purposes), the government will pay all expenses for food and lodging.
COURT ATTIRE - In deference to the Court, please dress neatly.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER, OR EMPLOYMENT - Any such changes should be reported to the Jury Department immediately. The numbers are as follows:
Jackson (601) 608-4080
LOCATION - Courthouses in the Southern District of Mississippi are located in Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian and Natchez.
PARKING - Please refer to the list of parking lots located near each courthouse; you will not have time to leave the building to pay meter charges and the Court is not responsible for any parking violations.
STAYING OVERNIGHT - Jurors who live more than sixty (50) miles away from the Court are eligible for reimbursement of overnight accommodations. All overnight stay must be approved by the jury administration office in advance of your service. Please telephone the jury department if you have any questions at (601) 608-4080.
PAYMENT OF ATTENDANCE FEES AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS - Attendance fees, parking, mileage, and other transportation costs are paid by check and mailed to your home address. Compensation for jury service is issued the beginning of each month to cover service for the previous month.
(1) Attendance Fees - A $40.00 attendance fee is paid for each day you report for duty, whether or not you are selected to serve on a trial. The $40.00 attendance fee must be reported as income for tax purposes. You must keep a record of the amounts you receive as no tax has been withheld and no W-2 forms are furnished. However, you do not need to report travel allowance as income. 1099 forms are furnished only to those jurors who receive $600 or more for attendance in a calendar year, and are mailed in January of the year following jury service.
(2) Transportation Costs - You will be reimbursed $0.555.5 (55.5 cents) per mile round trip from your home to the courthouse.
EXCUSES - The Court recognizes that occasionally circumstances exist when persons cannot serve. All excuses must be submitted in writing prior to your scheduled appearance day. Please include the following information in your letter: the nature of the hardship and if the excuse is for medical reasons, a note from your doctor must be included. When requesting a temporary absence, you must make the request a minimum of five days in advance of the date(s) you need to be excused. If you know the dates you need to be excused, you should include them on the back of the Juror Information Form or send your request by FAX to (601) 608-4095. The Court will make every effort to accommodate temporary absences. Absences do not constitute a valid reason for being excused for the entire term.
You will receive written notice of the Court’s ruling on your request. Jurors who fail to report for jury service without an approved excuse may be served by the United States Marshal with an order directing them to appear before a Judge to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of the Jury Service and Selection Act. If found in contempt, jurors may be fined $1000.00, imprisonment for not more than three days, or both.
ATTENDANCE CERTIFICATES FOR EMPLOYER - You will be provided with a certificate of attendance showing the dates you served. Your employment is protected by law while you are serving as a juror. If you should have a problem with your employer in connection with your jury service, please contact the Court immediately.
If you have additional questions regarding your service in this Court, feel free to contact the Jury Department in Jackson at (601) 608-4080.