Like many Americans, you may have mixed feelings when you open your mail and find out you received a summons for jury duty. That’s fair. Most people don’t like being surprised or told what to do. Jury duty may also cause some inconvenience, missed work, or other personal hardship. In some circumstances, the Court may excuse you from service if you have a substantiated hardship. But, odds are you will need to report to the Court as directed in your summons at a minimum.
Once you receive your summons, you should read it carefully for specific directions regarding your reporting requirements. Please do not ignore your summons or you may find yourself escorted by a local sheriff to Court to explain yourself to an upset judge! This does happen.
However, there is no need to be intimidated by this process. Often times, the Court will maintain additional online resources to help you better understand its process and your potential jury service. You will also receive an orientation once you arrive at Court. Please review this helpful information from the Oregon Judicial Branch regarding jury duty: http://www.courts.oregon.gov/how/Pages/jury.aspx
You may also be concerned about how jury duty impacts your job. You should know that Oregon law protects you as an employee from unlawful employment actions based on your need to serve on a jury. So, there is no need to worry. You can learn more about those related issues and legal protections here: http://www.courts.oregon.gov/how/Documents/Jury Info/Juror_Employment_Protections.pdf
Please keep in mind that the right to a trial by a jury of your peers in most civil and criminal cases is a truly special and important American freedom. If you were a civil litigant or a defendant in a criminal case, you’d also want your day in Court with a fair and impartial jury of your peers. In my experience as a litigator, once someone is actually chosen to serve on a jury all the jurors take their obligations very seriously and serve honorably. Often, jurors end their jury service with unique experiences and insights regarding our legal system, the role of the jury, the role of the judge and attorneys, and the jury trial’s vital function in our democracy.
As an attorney, I have unfortunately not yet made it to ultimately serve in the jury box as a juror for trial. So please consider it an honor if you are lucky enough to serve and serve with an open mind. You may meet some new friends after this shared and powerful experience with your fellow jurors.