If you have been summoned for jury duty we know you may have a lot of questions. We have tried to answer many commonly asked questions below. If after reviewing the questions and answers below you still have a question, please click here to contact our Jury Office by email or call the Jury Office at (251) 235-5993.
- Where did you get my name for jury service?
- Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender?
- How long does a juror serve?
- What does "on call" mean?
- What happens if I fail to report for jury service?
- What do I need to bring when I report for jury service?
- What are the restrictions regarding what can be brought into the courthouse?
- What should I wear for jury service?
- Is smoking allowed in the courthouse?
- Where do I report?
- What are the procedures for inclement weather?
- Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
- What if I have a sudden emergency?
- Will I serve on civil or criminal trials and what happens if I'm selected to serve on a trial?
- If I submit a request to be excused, do I still need to complete the juror information card?
- May I call the court to be excused from jury service?
- What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my term?
- If I am serving on a jury, will I get breaks?
- Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?
- What if my employer wants proof that I am serving on jury duty?
- When I have completed my service as a juror, will I be called again to serve?
- I don't live in the county where the court is located, why was I selected as a prospective juror?
- How will I receive payment for my jury service?
- I live so far away. Will I be reimbursed if I come the day before?
- Must I report my jury income to the Internal Revenue Service?
- What is the Automated Jury Information System?
- What is a petit jury?
- What is a grand jury?
- What types of cases will jurors decide in federal court?
- Who is the contact person if I have additional questions?
- I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire - do I have to fill it out?
Where did you get my name for jury service?
Every four years prospective jurors are selected randomly from the voter registration lists in the respective counties and their names are put into what is known as the divisional "Master Jury Wheel." After the creation of the Master Jury Wheel prospective jurors are sent a Juror Qualification Questionnaire. This questionnaire must be completed and returned to the court to verify that the juror is qualified for jury service. Those individuals who "qualify" for service may eventually be summoned to report for service.
Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender?
Race and gender are not factors in determining eligibility to serve as a juror. Federal law requires a prospective juror to indicate his/her race. This information is required solely to avoid discrimination in juror selection and has absolutely no bearing on qualifications for jury service. By answering this question, you help the federal court ensure that discrimination cannot occur during the juror selection process.
How long does a juror serve?
Jurors for the United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama are "on call" for the entire calendar month for which they have been summoned.
What does "on call" mean?
Jurors for the United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama will be expected to be available to appear at the courthouse whenever instructed during their month of service. This does not mean that the juror will actually report in person at the courthouse every day, but rather, the juror is expected to call in as instructed and be ready to appear when directed to do so.
What happens if I fail to report for jury service?
Any juror who fails to report for jury duty and who is not excused by the Court may be served a Show Cause Order by the U.S. Marshals Service. Subsequently, those jurors will be required to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of the Jury Selection Act. Any person who fails to show good cause for noncompliance with a summons may be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof (U.S.C. 28 Section 1866(g)).
What do I need to bring when I report for jury service?
Be sure to bring your FEDERAL JURY SUMMONS & A PHOTO ID with you when you report for jury duty. Since there can be extended periods of time when you will not be required in the courtroom, you may want to bring a book, magazine, or crossword puzzles, etc.
What are the restrictions regarding what can be brought into the courthouse?
The entrance to the United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama is heavily guarded for your safety and protection. Electronic devices, cameras, recording equipment, laptop computers, radios, TVs, cellular phones, pagers, weapons, pepper spray and sharp objects are prohibited. Please leave any of these types of items at home or in your vehicle.
What should I wear for jury service?
All jurors must wear appropriate business attire for jury duty. Shorts and tank tops are not allowed.
Is smoking allowed in the courthouse?
No. The United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama is a smoke-free facility.
Where do I report?
Unless otherwise directed you will report to the United States District Court at 155 Saint Joseph Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602. Enter the building from Saint Joseph Street and go to room number 102A on the first floor. Call the Jury Office at (251) 235-5993 for assistance. For directions to the courthouse in Mobile click here.
What are the procedures for inclement weather?
In the case of bad weather call our Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) at 1-800-726-5643 for reporting instructions.
Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
Your cell phone or pager will not be allowed in the courthouse. However, you will be able to check your messages during breaks or lunch. Your family may contact the Clerk's Office at (251) 690-2371 or the Jury Section at (251) 235-5993 in case of an extreme emergency, and a jury clerk will deliver a message to you. Please have the caller specify that you are on jury duty.
What if I have a sudden emergency?
It is important that jurors report when they are required to and are prompt. Absences may delay or even jeopardize trials. If jurors are faced with an emergency such as a sudden illness or a death in the family, they should follow the instructions that they were given by the court. If they are unable to do so, they should telephone the Jury Office at (251) 235-5993. In addition, if there is an emergency and someone needs to contact you during your service, they may call the Jury Office at the same number and a message will be delivered to you promptly. Please have them specify that you are on jury duty.
Will I serve on civil or criminal trials and what happens if I'm selected to serve on a trial?
The court tries both civil and criminal cases, and it is possible that you may be selected for either or both types of trials. If you are selected to serve on a trial, you must follow the instructions of your trial judge or courtroom deputy.
If I submit a request to be excused, do I still need to complete the juror questionnaire?
Yes. Even if you have asked to be excused, you must return the completed questionnaire.
May I call the court to be excused from jury service?
No. All requests to be excused must be in writing. A decision will be made as promptly as possible. You may check on the status of your request via the Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) at 1-800-726-5643 after 5-7 business days have elapsed. The only time that you should call the Jury Staff regarding an excuse is when you have a last-minute emergency that cannot be handled through the mail.
What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my term?
Advise the Jury Staff in advance so that allowances can be made for such matters. In many instances, the court can make arrangements to defer jurors to less inconvenient times. However, such requests must be made prior to the first day of jury service.
If I am serving on a jury, will I get breaks?
Yes. Your trial judge will tell you what schedule he or she expects to follow throughout the trial.
Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?
Yes. Under federal law and state, employers must allow their employees time off for jury duty. An employee cannot be punished in any way for serving as a juror. Anyone who is a full-time employee serving on state or federal jury duty is entitled to his or her "usual compensation received from such employment." Ala. Code § 12-16-8 (1975) For more information about federal guidelines for employers regarding time off for jury service click here.
What if my employer wants proof that I am serving on jury duty?
Request a Certificate of Attendance from the District Clerk's Office and one will be prepared and given to you. The certificate will be available before you leave the courthouse at the end of the day.
When I have completed my service as a juror, will I be called again to serve?
The Court's pool of juror names (the divisional "Master Jury Wheel") is replenished every four years after the presidential election. If you have served as a grand or petit juror in a federal court within the past two years, you may request to be permanently excused.
I don't live in the county where the court is located, why was I selected as a prospective juror?
The United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama consists of two divisions: Mobile and Selma. These two divisions include 13 counties in Alabama. The Mobile division includes Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, and Washington counties. The Selma division includes Dallas, Hale, Marengo, Perry, and Wilcox counties. Jurors are drawn from voter registrations in these 13 counties. Regardless of which Southern District of Alabama Division you live in you could be summonsed to serve on a jury in either Mobile or Selma.
How will I receive payment for my jury service?
Juror checks will be mailed to the address provided by the juror when appearing for jury service. All jurors will be paid within 17 days from the last date of jury service. You will receive $50 per day for service, $10 per day for parking, $0.655 per mile (effective January 1 - December 31, 2023) round trip from your home to the federal building. (Federal government employees will not be paid the $50.00 attendance fee.)
I live so far away. Will I be reimbursed if I come the day before?
If you have to drive more than 70 miles from your home to the courthouse you may be reimbursed for an overnight stay if you choose not to return home.
Must I report my jury income to the Internal Revenue Service?
Any income received for jury attendance must be reported as income for tax purposes. The court will issue you an IRS Form 1099 if your income from jury attendance exceeds $600. However, you do not need to report travel and parking reimbursement as income.
What is the Automated Jury Information System?
The Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) enables the court to provide specific, last-minute recorded information pertaining to the trial you have been called to serve; there is no attendant at this number. Generally you will be instructed to call in at a specific time (see your summons) on a specific night and the message will advise you to report as directed, that there has been a change in court's schedule, or to call back in again at another designated date/time. You do not have to call AJIS every night you are serving on a trial unless you are specifically instructed by the judge to do so. The number for AJIS is 1-800-726-5643. Be sure to have your participant number ready when you call.
What is a petit jury?
A Petit Jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial and returns a verdict. A verdict in a civil case may be a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant involved guilty or not guilty.
What is a grand jury?
A Grand Jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether a person should have formal charges filed by the government. If the grand jury finds probable cause, then it will return a written statement of the charges, called an indictment. Grand jurors are on a panel of 23 jurors and generally serve one to two days per month for 18 months. Grand jury terms may be extended for 6 months if necessary.
What types of cases will jurors decide in federal court?
Jurors may be called to serve on both civil and criminal trials. Examples of civil cases are contract disputes, civil rights violations, etc. Criminal trials involve a party or parties who are alleged to have violated a federal law and who have been indicted by a grand jury.
Who is the contact person if I have additional questions?
If after reviewing the questions and answers on this page you still have questions, please contact our Jury Office by email or by phone at (251) 235-5993.
I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire - do I have to fill it out?
Please take a few moments to complete the Juror Exit Questionnaire given to you by the Jury Staff. The purpose of the questionnaire is to help us make jury service a more positive experience for those who are summoned for jury service for the United States District Court - Southern District of Alabama. After completing the questionnaire, you may leave it with the Jury Staff or mail it in the envelope provided.