Welcome to Federal Jury Service for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia.
The following information provided explains the procedures, duties and amenities of federal jury service for the U. S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia. Serving as a juror is a fundamental obligation we all share as citizens of the United States. Only by having people like you participate in the process can we ensure that all persons in federal court will be afforded their constitutional right to have a jury pool drawn from a fair cross section of the community in this District.
Jury service sometimes requires sacrifices and may mean rearranging schedules, canceling appointments, or missing work. Yet serving as a juror is an important civic and community duty, as well as a privilege and responsibility. Those who serve as jurors have an opportunity to see the courts in action and to actively participate in a fundamental democratic process. We extend our sincere appreciation for your participating in the process and trust that you will find your experience rewarding.
The Southern District of Georgia is a two-step Court which means that Jurors first must be “Qualified” before they are eligible to become a Juror. Once a person is qualified, their name is included in a data base wherein our Petit and Grand Juries are pulled.
Step 1- Qualification Stage:
Prior to being called for jury service, all prospective jurors are sent a Juror Qualification Questionnaire (“Questionnaire”) to determine if they are qualified to serve as a juror for the U. S. District Court Southern District of Georgia.
At this stage, you are not being asked to serve as a juror. Information is simply being gathered to determine if you are qualified to serve based on factors such as your residence, citizenship, etc.
Step 2 – Summons Stage:
You have reached the second stage of the jury service process and when you have received a Summons to Appear for Jury Service . A summons is an order from the court to appear on a specific date and time.
Service on a jury is rarely convenient for anyone, but it is very important; indeed, our courts cannot function without jurors. Your participation in this process is vital to the protection of our American freedoms and to fair resolutions of important disputes, and it is a primary duty of citizenship in this country, along with voting and serving in the military, if needed.
You may be summoned for a Grand Jury or a Petit Jury
The function of the Grand Jury is not to determine guilt or innocence, but only whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and a specific person or persons committed it. If the grand jury finds probable cause to exist against a person suspected of having committed the crime, then it will return a written statement of the charges called an “indictment”. After that, the person will go to trial.
Grand Jurors will be coming from locations throughout the forty-three counties of the Southern District of Georgia for regular meeting in the City of Savannah. From a larger number of prospective jurors summoned, the Grand Jury of twenty-three persons will be randomly selected to serve. The selection process is completed without any “jury challenges” as are typical in the selection of trial juries. After the larger number of jurors is qualified, the smaller number of twenty-three will be achieved simply by pulling the names from the box.
Petit Jury (Trial Jurors):
A petit jury or trial jury has a special function in the court and consists of 6 to 12 members. In a civil matter, the jury listens to evidence in order to determine if the defendant injured the plaintiff or failed to fulfill a legal obligation and to determine what compensation or penalty should result. In a criminal trial, the jury listens to evidence in order to determine if the defendant committed the crime as charged. In general, jury trials are open to the public but jury deliberations are not.
The package you received includes the Summons to Appear and a Juror Information Form