WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO SERVE AS A JUROR?
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older, who is a United States citizen and a resident of Dauphin County shall be qualified to serve as a juror, unless such citizen; (1) is unable to speak and understand the English language (2) is incapable, by reason of mental or physical infirmity to render efficient jury service or (3) has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and has not been granted a pardon or amnesty.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I IGNORE A SUMMONS?
A jury summons is a COURT ORDER. If you ignore the summons, you are subject to arrest and prosecution.
WILL I RECEIVE ANY INFORMATION OR REMINDER ABOUT MY REPORT DATE AFTER I RETURN MY SUMMONS?
No, once you return your summons, you will be expected to report on the date noted on the summons and we will not send any reminder out to you.
AM I ALLOWED TO BRING MY CELL PHONE, LAPTOP OR ANY OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES WITH ME TO THE COURTHOUSE?
Jurors are permitted to bring their cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices with them to the Jury Assembly Room, but will not be permitted to bring these items with them to the courtroom. There are lockers that may be used for $0.25 (this is returned to you when you place the key back in the locker) or you may leave the items with jury staff. There is free Wi-Fi in the jury assembly room.
HOW DOES A JUROR ATTEMPT TO RESCHEDULE THEIR SERVICE OR OBTAIN AN EXCUSAL IF THEY ARE UNABLE TO SERVE?
The juror should contact the Jury Manager, Melissa Ward, as soon as they realize that they have a problem. The jury manager can be reached at 717-780-6622.
WILL I BE PAID FOR SERVING AS A JUROR?
Juror pay is set by the Pennsylvania Legislature. Currently, a juror is paid $9.00 a day for the first three days and $25.00 a day thereafter.
WILL I BE PAID MILEAGE TRAVEL TO AN FROM COURTHOUSE?
Jurors are currently reimbursed for one round trip per day, to and from the courthouse, at a rate of $0.17 per mile.
AM I REQUIRED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE ONCE I RETURN MY SUMMONS PRIOR TO MY ARRIVAL FOR JURY SERVICE?
Jurors are encouraged to call 717-780-6628, the juror information telephone number for pre-recorded information after 3:00 PM on the Friday before their arrival for any preliminary instructions. In addition, jurors should call this number during their service for any modifications to report times related to weather or any other reason.
WHERE IS THE COURTHOUSE AND WHAT DO I DO WHEN I ARRIVE?
The Dauphin County Courthouse is located at 101 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA (for GPS devices). Juror may park for free at the Market Street Square Garage at 34 S. 2nd Street, Harrisburg, PA. Handicapped jurors (with appropriate plates/plaquards) may park in the employee garage located in Blackberry Alley behind the Courtrhouse. Jurors with an oversized vehicle may park in the open lot at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets.
HOW ARE JURORS SELECTED?
In Dauphin County, jurors are selected from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) licensing records. In June of each year, names are randomly selected from the PennDOT list and those selected are sent a juror qualification questionnaire. Information from the returned questionnaires is entered into the computer system and used for the selection of jurors for the next year.
An array is selected for each trial term. Jurors report the Monday of each court term to the Assembly Room located on the ground floor of the Dauphin County Courthouse. When a courtroom is ready to call a case for trial, a panel of 28 or more jurors is randomly selected and sent to the courtroom.
Voir Dire (the preliminary examination of an individual's qualifications to be a juror for a particular case) is conducted by both the judge and the attorneys. The purpose is to ascertain whether any views held by a potential juror would hinder the prospective juror's ability to act impartially. It is very important that prospective jurors listen carefully and answer the questions honestly.
From this panel, a jury of 12 and 2 or more alternates is selected. The remaining jurors return to the Assembly Room for further assignment.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE JURY?
The Jury must find the facts.
The Jury must listen carefully to the evidence presented during the trial
The Jury should not discuss the case with anyone during the trial.
The Jury should only discuss the case with fellow jurors during jury deliberations. It is during the deliberation process that the jurors come to a consensus as to the facts and determine which witnesses are credible.
The Jury must apply the law, as explained by the judge, to the facts.
The Jury determines the money damages in some civil cases or decides whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty in criminal cases.
The Jury arrives at a verdict.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE JUDGE?
The Judge must ensure that all parties have a fair opportunity to present their case.
The Judge rules on the evidentiary issues and ensures that the trial proceeds in a proper manner.
The Judge instructs the jury on the applicable law.
The Courts of Common Pleas are the primary trial courts with original jurisdiction to hear criminal and civil cases.
WHAT KINDS OF CASES WILL I HEAR AS A JUROR?
Jurors will hear criminal and civil cases.
In criminal cases, the District Attorney or Attorney General, on behalf of the citizens of Dauphin County, prosecutes a case against an individual accused of a crime.
In civil cases, the parties are individuals, business entities or governmental agencies. The party initiating the lawsuit is the Plaintiff and the party defending the lawsuit is the Defendant. The Plaintiff is generally seeking monetary damages. Examples of civil lawsuits are professional negligence, motor vehicle accidents, and disputes arising from a contract.
WHAT IS THE TRIAL PROCESS?
SWEARING IN OF THE JURY
OPENING INSTRUCTIONS BY JUDGE
OPENING STATEMENTS BY ATTORNEYS
PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE
CLOSING ARGUMENTS BY ATTORNEYS
JUDGE'S INSTRUCTIONS TO JURY (JURY CHARGE)
DELIBERATIONS BY JURORS
WHAT HAPPENS DURING JURY DELIBERATIONS?
After the trial judge explains the law, the jury is excused from the courtroom. One of the first things the jury does when it retires to a jury deliberation room is to choose a foreperson. The foreperson makes sure that each juror has a chance to speak and that each juror's opinion is treated with respect. The foreperson makes sure that the jury does not rush to a verdict and that careful thought has been given to the evidence and the application of the law to the facts.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE JURY REACHES A VERDICT?
When the jury reaches a verdict, the foreperson notifies the tipstaff stationed outside the jury deliberation room and the tipstaff notifies the judge. The judge calls everyone back into the courtroom and the foreperson announces the verdict. The verdict is recorded and the jurors' responsibility for the case is concluded, except in a criminal death penalty case. In such cases, following the rendering of the verdict, the jury must decide the punishment.
After the jury has been discharged, the jurors are permitted but not required to talk about the case. Jurors are not permitted to disclose what another juror said during deliberations. If anyone attempts to communicate with a juror in any way that the juror feels is improper, the juror should report the incident to the court as soon as possible.
WILL I BE PROVIDED MEALS WHILE SERVING AS A JUROR?
Normally no. A meal will be provided if a jury is sequestered or in certain cases when a jury is deliberating. Normally you receive an hour or more to purchase a meal at a place of your choosing or to consume a packed lunch from home.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I RECEIVE AN UNSOLICITED CALL FROM SOMEONE REGARDING JURY DUTY?
In general, Dauphin County does not call jurors prior to any summons going out to you in the mail. Recently, there were some telephone scams where the caller was portraying himself to be a Sheriff and soliciting payment for a fine for missing jury duty over the telephone. Dauphin County will not call you to solicit money. If you have any questions regarding your jury service, please first call the Jury Manager at 717-780-6622 regarding your situation or to report any unusual telephone call you received.
While jury service may be inconvenient and a hardship in certain situations, it is an extremely important civic duty. Without citizens willing to serve as jurors, our system of justice would not exist. Most jurors find the experience to be educational and rewarding.