Paulding Judicial Circuit Superior Courts
1. What does it mean when I receive a letter marked "Jury Summons" for the Superior Court of Paulding County?
This means that you have been randomly selected by a computer to be a prospective Grand Jury or trial jury member in the Superior Court. It means that you have been selected to participate in one of a citizen's most sacred privileges and provides you with an opportunity to do a patriotic duty. Jury service also gives you the opportunity to see first hand how the courts in their community function.
You should read both the summons, and the letter accompanying the summons, very carefully and completely to make sure that you understand exactly when and where you are to report for jury service as well other matters which are important to you and to the Courts.
Georgia law provides that you MUST respond to a summons for jury duty and report, if not excused earlier, or face penalties, including the payment of a fine of up to $300.00. It is VERY IMPORTANT to follow all instructions in the letter and summons carefully and completely. If your summons says to call a particular phone number the day you are to report for jury duty, you should do so. Failure to do so may cause you unnecessary time and expense which could have been avoided had you followed the instructions.
2. Why do I need to answer the questions on the questionnaire, which comes with the letter and the summons for jury duty?
Georgia law provides that the attorneys for the parties involved in jury trials have the right to ask questions of the prospective jurors in order to assist them in selecting the jury to try the case. The questions on the questionnaire are some, which are almost always asked by attorneys at the beginning of each case. The judges of the Paulding Judicial Circuit believe that the jury selection process and thus most jurors' stay in court is greatly shortened by each prospective juror answering these questions before they come to court by use of this questionnaire rather than waiting to have the lawyers ask the same questions in each and every case. If you return your completed questionnaire so that it is received prior to the date you are to report for jury duty, you will receive an additional fifty cents to reimburse you for postage and envelope costs if you mail it back in or to reimburse you for some gas, if you hand delivered the questionnaire back to the Clerk of Superior Court.
3. How long does jury service last?
For Grand Jury: The Paulding Judicial Circuit now has two terms of Superior Court per year; a Grand Jury serves for 6 months. Generally, you will serve one day at the beginning of the term and be recalled the each month for another one-day session. Very rarely, you may be called upon to serve an additional day or so within the term. The judges of the Paulding Judicial Circuit try to make sure that some alternate grand jurors are sworn at the initial session of each Grand Jury so that, if a Grand Jury member has an irreconcilable conflict with coming for any subsequent session, an alternate may take his or her place at the subsequent session.
For Trial Jury: Generally, civil and criminal trials in the Superior Courts of the Paulding Judicial circuit are held during trial "weeks" scheduled at various times through the year. Jury service is generally for one trial, if you are selected on a jury, or one day, if you are not selected to be on a jury. If, on the first day you report for jury duty, you are not selected to serve on a jury, then that generally ends your service for that term, although on rare occasions you may be required to return later in the week to see if you are selected to be on a jury then. If, on the first day you report for jury duty, you are selected to serve on a jury, then you must return and serve each day until the trial is completed. Most trials do not take more than one or two days to complete, but in extremely rare cases, a trial may extend into a Saturday or Sunday or even the next week.
4. What if I can't come to Court on the day I am summoned for jury service?
Georgia law provides only two categories for complete exemption from jury duty:
· Persons over seventy (70) years of age.
· Persons with permanent mental/physical disability. In addition, Georgia law provides that two other groups of persons shall be excused from jury service:
· Any person who is a full-time student at a college, university, vocational school.
· Any person who is the primary caregiver having active care and custody of a child under four years of age in a situation where alternative child care is not reasonably available.
If you believe you fall into one or more of these four categories and desire to be excused from jury duty, you should contact the office of the Clerk of Superior Court for your county in order to obtain the appropriate affidavit, which must be completed before you can be excused or exempted. You may obtain the affidavit by going by the Clerk's office in the County Courthouse or by calling that office at the numbers below:
Paulding County: (770) 443-7527
If you already have plans and can't change them, you may ask that your jury service be postponed or rescheduled. This means that you arrange to serve on another day. Requests for postponement must be submitted in writing and received in the Superior Court Clerk's office at least ten days prior to the date you are supposed to report. In a personal emergency, give as much notice as possible.
5. What should I wear to court?
There is a dress code for all persons coming into the Superior Courts of the Paulding Judicial Circuit, including judges, attorneys, jurors, witnesses, parties to the case, or even just casual observers of the proceedings. No provocative clothing such as halter tops or tank tops are allowed to be worn by either males or females. Generally, no clothing items with writing or printing or cartoons or caricatures or the like printed on them are allowed; this does not prohibit a shirt with a small logo such as the Nike "Swoosh" or a "polo" player or uniforms bearing the small "over the pocket" names of the employer and the employee. Caps or hats may not be worn in the Courtroom. No shorts are permitted, no matter how "dressy" they might be, and no athletic jerseys or items of clothing resembling athletic uniforms of any type are permitted. All pants or trousers must be pulled up to the waist level. Clothing which allows for underwear of any type to be visible is not permitted, and the wearing of any clothing in such a manner that the underwear is visible is not permitted. Dress or skirt lengths should be such as modesty permits, and no mini skirts are permitted.
COURT ROOM PROPER DRESS
The following types of shirts are NOT ALLOWED:
· Tee shirts with writing, photos, drawings, or sports teams logos on them.
· Tank tops
· Undershirts worn as outer shirts
· Sweat shirts with writing, photos, drawings, or sports teams logos on them.
· Basketball, baseball, or other sports jerseys
· Mesh or other "see-through" materials
The following types of clothing are NOT ALLOWED:
· Shorts or cut-off jeans
· Sunglasses (unless a physicians note is delivered to the bailiff prior to entering the courtroom)
· Caps must not be worn inside the courtroom· Pants must be pulled up to the waist with NO VISIBLE UNDERWEAR
Equipment or other personal property such as radios, cellular phones, pagers or beepers should ALWAYS BE TURNED OFF!
Weapons of any kind (INCLUDING pocket knives) are NOT ALLOWED!
***FAILURE TO ABIDE BY THESE REQUIREMENTS MAY BE PUNISHED AS CONTEMPT OF COURT WHICH MAY RESULT IN BEING SUBJECT TO A FINE OR BEING PLACED IN JAIL OR BOTH!***
6. Can I take my cell phone, pager, hand held communication radio, cd player, radio or pocketknife into the courtroom?
For reasons of maintaining security and proper courtroom decorum as well as to ensure that the attention of jurors, witnesses, parties, and the court is not diverted from the tasks at hand, cell phones, hand held communication radios, and pagers should ALWAYS BE TURNED OFF in the courtroom except for the Sheriff and his deputies who are charged with maintaining security in the courtroom. No other persons, not even the judge or attorneys, shall have such communication devices turned on in the courtroom! No entertainment items such as radios or cd players are allowed in the courtroom.
7. If I am selected to be on a trial jury, what will I have to do?
As a trial juror, you play an essential role in the American system of justice. You do not need any special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror. You do need to keep an open mind and be willing to make decisions free of personal feelings and biases. As a juror, you will listen to opening statements and closing arguments for two sides. The lawyers act as advocates for their sides of the case. You will also learn about and weigh the evidence that has been collected for the trial. During the trial, the judge serves as the court's presiding officer and as the final authority for the law, and the judge instructs you on the law you are to apply when you make your decision about the case. After these instructions from the judge, you and the other jurors are sent to the jury room to discuss the case and the law and to deliberate in order to reach a decision. As a juror, you are responsible for impartially evaluating the facts presented and for applying the law to these facts as the judge instructs you. These combined efforts bring about the fair and impartial administration of justice in your county, state, and nation.
8. How much do I get paid for being on a jury?
Georgia law provides that the County Commissioners for each county set the pay for jury service in that county since the commissioners are responsible for the county's budget. A Grand Jury may recommend a pay increase or decrease for jurors, but ultimately the decision belongs to the County Commissioners. Some persons decline to be paid for jury service and donate the money back to the county treasury for use on other county expenditures.
Trial Jury: $30 per day
Grand Jury: $30 per day
Your pay will be mailed to you, but on occasion some Superior Court Clerks are able to personally hand the checks to the jurors at the end of their service. Georgia law in O.C.G.A. section 34-1-3 prohibits discrimination by an employer against the employer's employee for attending a judicial proceeding in response to a court order or process, including jury summons.
9. What do I do if I have a disability, and I want to serve as a jury, but I need certain accommodations in order to serve as a juror?If you need accommodations due to a disability, please contact the Clerk of Superior Court for the county to which you have been summoned as a juror.
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