The American Justice System is a powerful institution. It is because our justice system establishes and enforces laws made by the people to protect the rights of people and businesses that our American businesses thrive, and people from all over the world choose to migrate to the United States. Even with our complaints about the government and the flaws in our judicial system, it is highly effective. Consider that people actually risk their lives to enter this country – and our laws are one of the reasons. A fair trial is the American way.
Thus, the importance of service for trials in the U.S. is great. The system’s success rests on the participation of Americans, who agree to do their duty when called. This is true at the Federal, state and local levels of the judicial system.
In Oklahoma, the Court Clerk prepares and issues about 1,800 jury summons each month except in July and August when no jury trials are held. Names are selected at random from a list of licensed drivers or persons holding a current state identification document to participate in jury duty. What to expect if you are selected to participate in Oklahoma follows.
Who can be selected to serve. In Oklahoma, all citizens of the United States who are also Oklahoma state residents meet the initial requirements for participation. Having the qualifications of electors of the state, are competent jurors to serve on all grand and petit juries within their counties; provided, that persons over seventy (70) years of age and persons who have served as a grand or petit juror during the last five (5) immediately preceding calendar years shall not be compelled to serve as jurors in this state, and the court may excuse or discharge any juror drawn and summoned as a grand or petit juror if jury service would result in substantial hardship to the prospective juror.
Who can not be a juror. Oklahoma residents who are not qualified to serve on a jury in the state are persons who are already serving as a member in the system for the purpose of upholding or interpreting the law. This includes Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Civil Appeals, Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals or the District Court, licensed attorneys engaged in the practice of law, Sheriffs or deputy sheriffs. In addition, Legislators during session of the Legislature who are involved in state business can not serve. This also includes people who are in custody of alleged or convicted criminals. This means jailers or law enforcement officers, state or federal. Lastly, any individual who has been convicted of any felony, or who has served a term of imprisonment in any penitentiary, state or federal, for the commission of a felony, is not able to serve on a jury.
Length of service. How long jury duty lasts varies by case but, usually the duration ranges from 1 day to 1 week. Jurors are usually expected to appear on Monday and Tuesday of the week they are called to service. If your service is requested, you may ask for an attendance certificate from the court clerk to note the dates of service, which you can then share with your employer.
Exemptions/postponements. Oklahoma residents who have served on a jury in the previous 5 calendar years are exempt. People who wish to be excused from jury service for a compelling reason must do so in person and bring evidence to support the reason for their request, such as for a nonrefundable travel ticket, a note from a physician verifying their physical or mental condition, or proof of dependency or guardianship of an individual who would suffer hardship if the individual served jury duty. Nursing mothers and service members on active duty may also ask for a postponement of service.
An important note: Under Oklahoma law, jurors must be reinstated to their same position at the completion of jury duty. It is illegal for an employer to discharge or discipline an employee for taking time off to serve as a juror provided that the employee notifies his or her employer within a reasonable period of time after receipt of the jury summons. It is also illegal to require or request an employee to use sick, annual, or vacation time when serving as a juror.
Our personal injury attorneys encourage you to participate in the judicial system as a juror, should you receive a summons to duty. It is a unique aspect of being an American.