Pittsburg County Court Clerk Cindy Ledford gives information on the jury duty process.
1. Why is jury service important?
Jury service is our civic duty and jurors serve a very important role in our judicial system. Our founding fathers set out in the Constitution the right to a fair and speedy trial by an impartial jury of our peers. It is the job of jurors to make sure our rights to life, liberty and property are protected. Our system of justice cannot work without jurors and I feel that jury service is one of the most important privileges we can have as a citizen of the United States.
2. How am I selected to be a juror?
We use a jury management system that is administered by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to select jurors. Approximately four weeks before the start of our jury docket, I log into the jury management system and request a pool of 250 jurors. The JMS randomly pulls the names and addresses of potential jurors from the Department of Public Safety's database of licensed drivers. So, you are selected to be a juror by your driver's license.
3. Who can be excused from jury service?
The following individuals cannot serve on any jury in Oklahoma: Justices of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals; Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals or the District Court; Sheriff's or Deputy Sheriff's; Licensed attorneys who are engaged in the practice of law; Persons who have been convicted of a felony, unless they have been restored to their civil rights; Legislators during a session or while involved in state business. Jailers or law enforcement officers, municipal, state or federal are eligible to serve on noncriminal actions only. Upon request, a person shall be exempt from jury service if the person is a member of the Armed Forces of the US who is serving on active duty during a time of war or declared hostilities or is a mother who is breast feeding. Also, persons who are over 70 years old or who have served on a jury during the last five years cannot be compelled to serve as a juror but can serve if they would like to.
4. Must my employer pay me while I am on jury duty?
I do not believe that an employer is required to pay employees who serve on jury duty. I do know that some employers offer paid leave to employees who serve as jurors and some employers pay the employee but require the employee to turn over the money they get paid by the court for their jury service to the employer. (Jurors are paid $20 per day plus round trip mileage at the state rate for their juror service) However, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for serving on jury duty or not allow them to take off work to serve on jury duty.
5. What do I do after I am summoned?
Show up at the date and time listed on your summons. Jury service is MANDATORY and the court has the authority to issue a body attachment warrant if you fail to appear. In other words, if you don't show up the Judge can order the Sheriff to come get you and bring you to courthouse.