Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court

Jury Service

 

A Guide to Jury Service

So You received a summons for Jury Duty?   What Next? 

First, you must go to e-Response to fill out the on-line questionnaire concerning your Jury Service. 

To Serve as a Juror in Okaloosa County
You must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of Okaloosa County and have a valid Florida driver's license or Florida ID card, if not please go to e-Response and request disqualification.

How are jurors summoned for jury duty?
Your name is randomly selected from a list that is currently provided by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Are there any exemptions from serving as a juror? 

Yes, you may be excused from serving as a juror for one of the following reasons:

  • Have served as a juror in Okaloosa County within the past twelve months.
  • An expectant mother or a parent that is not employed full-time and has custody of a child under six years of age.
  • You are 70 years of age or older.
  • A Law Enforcement Officer, with arrest authority.
  • Responsible for the care of a person who, because of mental illness, mental retardation, senility, or physical or mental incapacity, is incapable of caring for himself.

All other requests must go before the presiding Judge for excusal so all requests must be received at least 7 days BEFORE your Jury service date.  Some requests will require further documentation to be faxed to the Jury Management division before the request can be processed.   For example, if you request an excusal based on sickness, you will be required to provide a letter from your doctor stating your condition will not allow you to serve as a juror.  Regardless all request should be made online through the e-Response system first.  You will be contacted about the outcome of your request, or you can log into e-Response and check the status of your request.

You cannot serve as a juror if you have been convicted of a felony and have not had your rights restored  (Misdemeanors and DUIs are not felonies). Don't know if your rights have been restored?  Click Here and search the Office of Executive Clemency.  If your rights have not been restored you cannot serve as a juror, you must go into e-Response and request a disqualification based on your status as a felon.  Be prepared to give the state and county of your conviction.

What if I have travel plans or can't serve on my summons date?
You may request a deferral via e-Response, and even select your date of service.  We will make every effort to accommodate your request however, we must weigh the needs of the court in considering any request.  You will be contacted about the outcome of your request, or you may log in and check your status.

Where will I serve?
Through random selection you may be called to serve at either the Okaloosa County Courthouse in Crestview or the Okaloosa County Courthouse Annex Extension in Ft. Walton Beach.   Your summons will show your specific report location, date and time of your service.  Court cases often settle between the time summonses are mailed and jurors are scheduled to report. Therefore, you should check your status via E-Response regularly or call the appropriate number, 682-3821 in Crestview or 651-6687 in Ft Walton Beach after 5:00 P.M. on the day before you are to report, even if this day is a Sunday or holiday, to be informed by a recorded message whether or not your service will be required.

Will I get paid for jury duty?
Effective July 1, 1993, jurors who are regularly employed and who continue to receive regular wages while serving as a juror are not entitled to receive compensation for the first three days of juror service. Jurors who are not regularly employed or who do not continue to receive regular wages while serving as a juror are entitled to receive $15.00 per day for the first three days of juror service. Each juror who serves more than three days will be paid for the fourth day of service and each day thereafter at the rate of $30.00 per day of service.

I don't own a suit what should I wear?
You should remember court is a serious place and the integrity of the court is serious business.  For men, a shirt and tie is appropriate however, as a minimum you should wear nice pants and a collared shirt.  For women a skirt or pants suit is appropriate, as a minimum nice pants and a collared shirt should be worn.  T-Shirts, shorts, flip-flops are never appropriate for the courtroom and should not be worn.  Wearing them wont get you out of jury duty but it may get you admonished by the court.

What happens when I show up for Jury Duty?

Entering the Courthouse:
All persons entering the Courthouse locations, even prospective jurors, are required to submit to a security screening. This will include passing through a metal detector and placing any items being carried through an X-ray machine. Please keep in mind that even certain everyday items (scissors, pocket knives, etc.) will not be permitted.

Orientation:
When you first arrive your paperwork will be collected and you will be "Scanned" in at the check in table.  You will then go through qualification to determine if you meet the criteria to serve as a juror as established in Chapter 40 of the Florida Statutes.  Once qualification is complete you will watch a short instructional video detailing your service as a juror.

"Voir Dire" or Examination of Jurors:
After Orientation you are impaneled as a prospective juror in a case and sent to the courtroom, where the judge and the lawyers will ask you some questions regarding your background. These questions are not intended to embarrass you in any way. The questions are to assist the lawyers in deciding which jurors to select. A juror may have a prejudice regarding the type of case to be tried that would make him or her a less desirable juror for the case. If the juror feels that he/she may not be an impartial juror and this is not brought out by questioning, the juror should bring this to the attention of the judge. A juror may be excused because the judge is of the opinion that the juror cannot render a fair and impartial verdict. If a juror is excused for any reason, it is in no way a reflection on the juror. When a juror is excused, it means only that in the particular case it is proper and lawful to excuse him or her. Any juror who is excused from jury service at the juror's own request is not entitled to receive any compensation.

Length of service:
Your first day of service is normally limited to jury selection for trials held during the trial week. If you are selected as a juror on a case, you may be scheduled to return and serve as a juror on the date of that trial.

Types of trials:
Cases which come before a petit jury are divided into two general classes, Civil and Criminal. In a civil trial, parties in dispute come into court to determine and settle their respective rights. The person who brings an action against another is the "plaintiff." The person against whom the action is brought is the "defendant." In a criminal trial, the persons bringing the action are the people of the State of Florida, represented by the "prosecutor." The "defendant" is a person or corporation accused of a violation of law.

Important things to remember during the trial:
After you are sworn as a juror in a case, there are some rules of conduct which you should observe:

  • Do not be late for court. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
  • Sit in the same seat in the jury box. This allows the clerk, judge and lawyers to identify you more easily.
  • Listen carefully. It is important that you hear every question asked and every answer given since your verdict will be based on the evidence given. If you do not understand any portion of the trial, ask the judge to have it explained.
  • Do not talk about the case. You should not talk to anyone about the case. This includes the clerk, lawyers, judge, bailiff or even another juror unless you have retired to the jury room for deliberations. If anyone tries to talk to you about the case or attempts to influence you as a juror, you should report it to the judge immediately.

What happens if I don't show up for Jury Duty?

Florida Statute 40.23(3) provides penalties for Failure to Appear.  The presiding Judge may impose a fine of up to $100 in addition a Failure to Appear may be considered a contempt of Court.

 

NOTICE REGARDING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990

If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact :

Shelia Sims
190 Governmental Center, 5th Floor
Pensacola, FL 32502
(850)595-4400

at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.