Juror Qualifications, Exemptions and Excuses
Individuals must meet certain criteria to be legally qualified for jury service.
Federal jurors are randomly drawn from a court's “jury wheel” for possible qualification and summoning to report for a jury selection at a later date if they are deemed qualified and necessary for the court’s trial schedule. A jury wheel is the database containing a specified number of names of district residents, with each county in the district represented in the jury wheel in proportion to its number of registered voters.
To be legally qualified for jury service, an individual must:
- be a United States citizen;
- be at least 18 years of age;
- have resided primarily in the judicial district for at least one year at the time of completion of the qualification questionnaire;
- be able to adequately read, write, understand, and speak the English language;
- have no disqualifying mental or physical condition that cannot be addressed with an accommodation;
- not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; and
- never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored or never were lost in the jurisdiction of conviction).
Were you selected for possible jury service and looking to fill out your juror qualification questionnaire online?
Three groups are exempt from federal jury service:
- members of the armed forces and national guard when on active duty;
- members of non-federal professional (as opposed to volunteer) fire and police departments; and
- “public officers” of federal, state, or local governments – persons either elected to public office or appointed by someone elected to public office – who are actively engaged full-time in the performance of public duties.
Persons employed on a full-time basis in any of these categories are barred from serving on federal juries, even if they are otherwise qualified and would like to serve.
Most district courts offer permanent excuses from service, on individual request, to designated groups of persons or occupational class on grounds that service by such class or group would entail undue hardship or extreme inconvenience to the members thereof. Such groups may include persons over age 70; persons who have, within the past two years, served on a federal jury; and persons who serve as volunteer firefighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew.
The Jury Selection and Service Act also allows courts to offer temporary deferrals or excusals of jurors from service at the time they are summoned to report to the courthouse on the grounds of “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience.”
Excuses for jurors are granted at the discretion of the court and cannot be reviewed or appealed to Congress or any other entity. Each of the 94 federal district courts maintains its own jury procedures and policies regarding excuses from jury service. Contact the federal court where you were selected to ask about a temporary deferral or excusal from service.