Jury service is one of the most important duties of citizenship which allows you to participate directly in the administration of justice. In the United States, our justice system is based on the belief that a just and fair result in court comes from having disputes settled by our fellow citizens. When you are called to be a juror, you become a very important person in our legal system.
How are jurors selected?
In the Parma Municipal Court persons are selected at random for jury service from the Board of Elections. If you have spelled your name differently or if the information at the Board of Elections is not up-to-date, you may receive additional summons. If you have received a summons for a deceased relative, please return it to the Parma Court. We will attempt to not send further summons; however, if the name of a deceased person remains on the source list (Board of Elections), you may receive additional summons. The only way to ensure that this does not continue is to contact the Board of Elections and have the name removed from their list.
What are the requirements for being a juror?
To serve on a jury in a particular court, you must be a resident of the geographical area served by that particular court. Ohio jurors must be at least 18 years of age, and they must not have lost their right to serve on a jury by having been convicted of certain types of crime. Beyond that, everyone is given the opportunity to be a juror regardless of age (if at least 18) and regardless of occupation.
If you are 76 years of age or older, you may request to be excused from jury duty.
What type of jury will I be serving on?
You are selected to serve on a "Petit Jury". You will hear a case which is criminal or civil. A criminal trial will involve a misdemeanor. In the Parma Municipal Court, eight (8) jurors plus an alternate are selected. In a criminal trial, the jury must find a defendant "guilty" or "not guilty" by unanimous vote. In civil cases the law requires a vote of at least three-fourths of the jury to reach a verdict. Most jury trials will seat an "alternative-juror(s)," in the event, sickness or unforeseen circumstances arise in which one of the regular jurors are unable to attend some portion of the trial. The "alternative-juror" hears the trial, in its entirety, but does not participate in jury deliberations.
How long does a juror have to serve?
In the Parma Municipal Court, you may expect to be "on call" for four (4) days when called for a Petit Jury. Your four day term of service begins with the beginning date printed on your jury summons. During your term of service you may be asked to report to the court more than once. Each time you are asked to report, a different case will be involved. If you are selected as a juror, you will only be asked to serve for one trial regardless of its length. The average jury trial is approximately one (1) to three (3) consecutive days. On the other hand, a complex trial that involves many witnesses may last for several days. Lengthy trials are somewhat rare, and prospective jurors are advised of the expected length of the trial before they are actually selected.
At the end of a typical jury day (9:00am to 4:30pm) jurors are dismissed to return to their homes, and return to court the next day if the trial is not over.
You will be asked to call our "Jury Service Hotline" at 440-887-7470 after 5:00pm each day to find out whether or not you need to report the following morning.
What happens when I appear for jury service?
When you arrive at the court, you are directed to a particular courtroom or to a meeting area. You may see a brief orientation talk or video to help acquaint you with the system. All prospective jurors take an oath or affirm that they will answer truthfully questions posed to them by the judge and the attorneys during the process.
The purpose of this questioning is to find out if there is some reason why it might be difficult for a prospective juror to be fair and impartial in the case to be tried. As a prospective juror, you are introduced to the parties and the attorneys in the case and given a list of probable witnesses. If you have some relationship to one of these persons, it might be difficult for you to consider the case impartially, and you will likely be excused from jury service.
You are also told a little about the facts of the case so that the court can determine if any past experience or prejudice might make it hard for you to be fair. You also have an opportunity to tell the court about anything else that might impact your ability to sit as a juror.
Generally, each side in a case has the right to ask that a certain limited number of jurors be excused without giving a reason (called a "peremptory challenge"). Each side can also make an unlimited number of challenges "for cause" (for a good reason). When attorneys make these "challenges", it is not their intent to personally attack potential jurors, but to ensure that they engage jurors who can evaluate the case as fairly as possible for their clients.
Is it possible that I might report for service but not sit on a jury?
Yes. The parties involved in a case usually try to settle their differences and avoid the time and expense of a trial. Sometimes a case is settled only minutes before a trial begins. Therefore, even though many trials are scheduled each day, some of them will not actually go to trial, so those cases will not need juries. But your time spent waiting to serve is not wasted; your presence encourages settlement.
What rules do jurors have to follow?
After the jury has been selected, the jurors must stand and take an oath or affirm that they will "well and truly" try the particular case for which they have been chosen, that they will wait until all the evidence has been heard before making up their minds, and that they will follow all of the judge's instructions.
Jurors must pay attention throughout the trial and do their best to determine the credibility of each witness. Jurors are not permitted to discuss the case among themselves or with anyone else until all the evidence has been presented, the attorneys have made their closing arguments, and the judge has instructed the jurors about the law that applies to the case. Jurors may not do any independent investigation of the matters involved in the lawsuit, and they may not discuss the case with anyone outside the courtroom until after they have deliberated in the jury room and arrived at a verdict. Even then, they don't have to discuss the case with anyone, although they are allowed to do so after the case has been decided.
Jurors may be permitted to take notes or ask witnesses questions as well as the attorneys. That is left to the discretion of the judge.
Additional rules include:
- Dress: You should dress comfortably for your jury service. Casual attire is acceptable but should also be appropriate for a courtroom.
- Jury Hot Line: The court maintains a special telephone number for jury information. The hot line will contain a prerecorded message indicating whether or not trials are going forward on the upcoming day. Jurors should call this number each evening prior to reporting for jury service to confirm that matters are going forward and their services will be needed. HOT LINE NUMBER (440-887-7470)
- Emergencies: If you become sick or have an emergency during your term of jury service, you should call the Assignment Department at 440-887-7400 x7477 or x7478, so that these matters can be addressed as soon as possible. You may also furnish this number to your family so they may contact the court in the event of an emergency.
- Cell Phones: While cell phones are permitted in the Parma Justice Center, their use in the courtroom is strictly prohibited. All cell phones & pagers must be turned off.
How does a jury decide a case?
After the attorneys have presented their evidence and made their closing statements, the judge instructs the jurors about the laws that apply to the case. Jurors must decide cases based on the laws as they are and not as the jurors might like them to be.
Following this instruction, the jury goes to the deliberation room to consider the case and reach a verdict. The jury first elects a foreperson who sees to it that discussions are conducted in a sensible and orderly fashion, that all issues are fully and fairly discussed, and that every juror is given a fair chance to participate. If the jurors have a question during their deliberation, they may write it down and ask the bailiff to deliver it to the judge.
When a verdict has been reached, the jurors agreeing to the verdict sign a form and notify the bailiff. The verdict is read by the bailiff and the judge dismisses the jurors.
How many jurors must agree on a verdict?
The type of case determines the number of jurors who must agree on a verdict.
A civil case is usually between two or more persons, companies or corporations who have a dispute concerning money or property. The party suing for compensation is called the "plaintiff". The party being sued is called the "defendant". In a civil case, the jurors must decide if and/or how to compensate the plaintiff for any damages. In civil cases, six (6) jurors (three-fourths of the eight jurors) must agree on a verdict.
In a criminal case, the "defendant" is a person charged with a crime. A crime is a violation of a law enacted by the legislature to protect our basic rights. Because crimes are considered acts against the state, and because the state is responsible for legally enforcing the laws of the people, the State of Ohio prosecutes these cases as the "plaintiff". In a misdemeanor criminal case, all eight (8) jurors determine if an accused person is guilty or not guilty of a charge, and the verdict must be unanimous.
What are the benefits of serving on a jury?
It is understandable that persons may be apprehensive about being called for jury duty. They may fear that their time will be wasted or that the experience will be very negative.
However, most jurors find that the experience is positive. They have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the legal system and about the particular subject matter of the lawsuit. They also may make some good friends during the course of their service.
Court officials are careful to treat jurors courteously and professionally. They know how important jurors are to the task of achieving fair and just results for those who come before the court. The benefits to individuals who serve as a juror is significant, but most significant are the benefits of jury service to the entire community.
Are you a juror with disabilities?
Persons called for jury duty who may require special accommodations such as hearing assistance should call the Assignment Dept. at (440-887-7400) x7477 or x7478 as soon as the summons is received to advise the court of their needs prior to the summons date. Depending upon the availability of hearing assistive devices and or sign language interpreters, it may be necessary to reschedule your reporting date to some time in the near future.
How much will I be paid?
You will be paid at the rate of $25.00 per day for every day that you appear. Payment is made by check, 4-6 weeks after the completion of jury service. You are expected to provide your own meals and transportation. If you need a letter to your employer confirming your time on jury duty, we will provide one by request upon completion of your service.