Juror Basics

Summons and Qualification Form
A summons for jury service and a juror qualification form are the initial documents that call you, as a prospective juror, to service. The qualification form is a questionnaire sent to citizens to determine if they are qualified to serve as a juror. You may or may not receive a qualification form with your summons. When you receive a summons and/or qualification form, read it and follow the instructions. Respond honestly and within the time indicated. It is important to take the summons seriously because a person who fails to appear or respond may be guilty of civil contempt, enforceable by an order to show cause for the failure to comply and by a fine up to $500. If you have any questions, contact the jury office of the court that summoned you at the phone number on the documents you received. (Sections 494.415, 494.450.)

Eligibility and Ineligiblity/Disqualification
A person is eligible for jury service if he or she is over age 21; a United States citizen; a resident of the county or city sending the summons, unless serving in another county by order of the court; and able to read, speak, and understand English. A person is not eligible for jury service if convicted of a felony, unless restored to civil rights; in the active military; a judge; or a person who the court or jury commissioners find incapable because of mental or physical illness. (Sections 494.425, 494.505.)

Excusals
Upon timely application to the court, the court shall excuse from jury service:

  • A person who has served on a jury within the preceding two years.
  • Any person whose absence from his or her regular place of employment would, in the judgment of the court, tend materially and adversely to affect the public safety, health, welfare or interest (this does not usually excuse law enforcement or fire suppression employees from service)
  • Any person upon whom service as a juror would, in the judgment of the court, impose an undue or extreme physical or financial hardship
  • Licensed health care workers, if such person can provide a written statement certifying that he or she is actually providing health care services to patients, and that the person’s service as a juror would be detrimental to the health of the person’s patients.
  • Licensed health care workers are any physician, hospital, health maintenance organization, ambulatory surgical center, long-term care facility, dentist, registered or licensed practical nurse, optometrist, podiatrist, pharmacist, chiropractor, professional physical therapist, psychologist, physician-in-training, and any other person or entity that provides healthcare services under the authority of a license or certificate. But only if such person provides a written statement to the court certifying that she/he is providing health care services to patients, and that the person's service as a juror would be detrimental to the health the persons patients.
  • Any employee of a religious institution whose religious obligations or constraints prohibit them serving on a jury. The certification of the employment and obligation or constraint may be provided by the employee's religious supervisor. (Section 494.430)

Postponing Service
If you are unable to serve during the time requested on your summons, contact your local jury office. You can apply for a postponement. When requested, postponements shall be granted, provided that:

(1) The prospective juror has not previously been granted a postponement;

(2) The prospective juror appears in person or contacts the board of jury commissioners by telephone, electronic mail, or in writing to request a postponement; and

(3) Prior to the grant of a postponement the court shall set the date on which the prospective juror will appear for jury service that is not more than six months after the date on which the prospective juror originally was called to serve and on which date the court will be in session. If a prospective juror is a full-time student of any accredited institution, the court shall set the date on which the prospective juror will appear for jury service that is not more than twelve months after the date on which the prospective juror originally was called to serve and on which the court will be in session. (Section 494.415, 494.432)

Employment Safeguards
An employer may not terminate, discipline, threaten or take adverse action against an employee on account of that employee's receipt of or response to a jury summons. An employee discharged in violation of this law may bring a civil action against the employer within ninety days of discharge for recovery of lost wages and other damages and for an order reinstating the employee. If the employee prevails, the employee shall be entitled to receive a reasonable lawyer's fee.

An employee may not be required or requested to use annual, vacation, personal, or sick leave for time spent responding to a summons for jury duty, time spent participating in the jury selection process, or time spent actually serving on a jury. (Section 494.460.)

Compensation
Compensation and mileage allowance for service varies by county or city. See "local jury offices" link on the side bar. (Section 494.455.)