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Jury Frequently Asked Questions
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 and the information that accompanied your summons, you still have a question, email your divisional jury office at: Erie / Pittsburgh / Johnstown
or call
Pittsburgh Jury Office (412)208-7540
Erie Clerk’s Office (814) 464-9600
Johnstown Clerk’s Office (814) 533-4504
 
 
  1. How do I get notified to appear for service?
  2. Where did you get my name for jury service?
  3. Why do I have to provide information about my race and gender?
  4. How long does a juror serve?
  5. What does "on call" mean?
  6. What happens if I fail to report for jury service?
  7. What do I need to bring when I report for jury service?
  8. What are the restrictions regarding what can be brought into the courthouse?
  9. What should I wear for jury service?
  10. Where do I park?
  11. Is smoking allowed in the courthouse?
  12. Where do I report?
  13. Can I bring my cell phone and or laptop?
  14. What are the procedures for inclement weather?
  15. Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
  16. What if I have a sudden emergency?
  17. Will I serve on civil or criminal trials and what happens if I'm selected to serve on a trial?
  18. If I submit a request to be excused, do I still need to complete the juror information card?
  19. May I call the court to be excused from jury service?
  20. What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my term?
  21. If I am serving on a jury, will I get breaks?
  22. Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?
  23. What if my employer wants proof that I am serving on jury duty?
  24. When I have completed my service as a juror, will I be called again to serve?
  25. I don't live in the county where the court is located, why was I selected as a prospective juror?
  26. How will I receive payment for my jury service?
  27. I live so far away. Will I be reimbursed if I come the day before?
  28. Must I report my jury income to the Internal Revenue Service?
  29. What is the Automated Jury Information System?
  30. What is a petit jury?
  31. What is a grand jury?
  32. What types of cases will jurors decide in federal court?
  33. Who is the contact person if I have additional questions?
  34. I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire - do I have to fill it out?
     
  1.

How do I get notified to appear for service?
Summons for jury service are sent via first-class mail.  Petit jurors in all divisions receive instructions with their summons concerning how and when to call the Court’s Automated Jury Information System, a/k/a AJIS for reporting instructions.  Summoned jurors for grand jury service however, do not call in before reporting for selection.  They report on the time and date indicated on their summons.

  2. Where did you get my name for jury service?
Every two years prospective jurors are selected randomly from the voter registration lists in the respective counties within the court’s jurisdiction 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 determine if the juror is qualified for jury service. Those individuals who "qualify" for service may eventually be summoned to report for service.
  3. 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.
  4. How long does a juror serve?
Jurors for the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania are "on call" to appear for possible selection.  Jurors can be instructed to appear up to two times or serve on one trial, whichever comes first.  All jurors are excused as served at the end of the on-call period OR at the end of a trial if selected.
 
Erie Division:  thirty days - generally call for a recorded message once a week after 5:00 pm

Pittsburgh Division:  two weeks - call for a recorded message on Fridays,  Mondays  and Tuesdays after 4:00 pm

Johnstown Division:  thirty days - generally call for a recorded message once or twice a week after 6:00 pm
  5. What does "on call" mean?
Jurors for the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania will be expected to be available to appear at the courthouse whenever instructed during their term 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.
  6. 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.  In some instances, the Court may issue an arrest warrant for failure to appear and show cause.  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)).
  7. What do I need to bring when I report for jury service?
Be sure to bring your FEDERAL JURY SUMMONS 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. as well as a snack.   A PHOTO ID IS REQUIRED TO ENTER THE COURTHOUSE
  8. What are the restrictions regarding what can be brought into the courthouse?
The entrances to the United States District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania are guarded for your safety and protection. Cameras, recording equipment, weapons, pepper spray and sharp objects, and anything that can be construed as a weapon are prohibited.  Please leave any of these types of items at home or in your vehicle.
  9. What should I wear for jury service?
All jurors must wear appropriate business attire for jury duty.  Shorts, tank tops, flip flops, tee shirts, etc. are examples of what not to wear.  The Court asks that the rules of etiquette be followed in the courtroom.
  10.

Where do I park? 
Erie Division
Pittsburgh Division   
Johnstown Division

  11. Is smoking allowed in the courthouse?
No. All federal courthouses located in the Western District of Pennsylvania’s jurisdiction are smoke-free facilities.  In addition, jurors are not permitted to leave the assembly area or the courtroom unless specifically dismissed as a group by court personnel.  Jurors should plan accordingly.
  12. Where do I report?
Unless directed otherwise, jurors summoned in the Pittsburgh Division will report to room 3300, jury assembly room (third floor) in the United States Courthouse, 700 Grant Street, downtown Pittsburgh (across the street from the federal building).  Jurors summoned in the Erie Division will report to room A170, jury assembly room, United States Courthouse, 17 South Park Row, downtown Erie.  Jurors summoned in the Johnstown Division will report to room 116, jury assembly room, United States Courthouse, Penn Traffic Building, 319 Washington Street in downtown Johnstown.
  13. Can I bring my cell phone and/or laptop into the courthouse?
Yes, but there are restrictions.  Please read the
Court’s policy concerning electronic equipment
 
All items must pass security clearance.
  14. What are the procedures for inclement weather or courthouse emergencies?
In all divisions, jurors should call the Court’s emergency toll free number, 1-866-602-3219 to determine if the court will be open, closed, or have a delayed opening during times of inclement weather or during any other emergency condition that may occur.  If the message does not specifically state that the courthouse is closed or a delayed opening, then the court is open for business as usual.  This toll free number is NOT to be confused with the AJIS toll free number that all jurors must call for reporting instructions.
  15.

Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
Your family may contact the Jury Office in Pittsburgh at (412) 208-7540, in Erie at (814) 464-9600, in Johnstown at (814) 533-4504 in case of an extreme emergency, and a clerk will deliver a message to you. Please have the caller specify that you are on jury duty.

  16. 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 of the appropriate division.  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.
  17. 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 type of case.  If you are selected to serve on a trial, you must follow the instructions of your trial judge or courtroom deputy.
  18. If I submit a request to be excused, do I still need to complete the juror questionnaire?
Yes.  Even if you have requested  to be excused, you must return the completed summons questionnaire or complete it online at http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Pages/jury.htm and click on the eJUROR link.
  19. May I call or e-mail the court to be excused from jury service?
Phone requests for excuse are not accepted, however, you may submit requests via email, mail or fax.You can also request excuse on-line electronically through eJUROR. Consult the Petit Juror Guide sent with your summons for instructions.  A decision will be made as promptly as possible. You are to check on the status of your request via the Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) at 1-866-498-8562 after 10 business days have elapsed.  The court will not mail you its decision.
  20. What if I have vacations or other important events scheduled during my term?
All requests for temporary excuse of any nature or time, (one day, one week, entire term, etc.) must be made as soon as possible and well in advance of your first day of jury service.  The court, at times, may grant a partial excuse or defer you from the entire term.  The court allows for a juror to be deferred up to two times.
  21. 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.
  22. Does my employer have to let me off for jury duty?  Does my employer have to pay my wage while I am serving?
Under federal law, employers must allow their employees time off for jury duty.  An employee cannot be punished in any way for serving as a juror.  Click on the link and refer to page 16 for Protection of Juror Employment http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Documents/Forms/AmendedJuryPlan09.pdf Your employer however is not required by law to pay you while you are serving.  You should check with your employer’s personnel or human resource department concerning your company’s wage policy while serving as a juror. 
  23. What if my employer wants proof that I am serving on jury duty?
Proof of Attendance is prepared by the jury office and given to those jurors who request it. The certificate will be available before you leave the courthouse at the end of the day or at the end of your trial.  You may also print proof of attendance yourself online at http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Pages/jury.htm and click on the eJUROR link.
  24. 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 two years. It is filled with enough names that no one should be called more than once during a single Wheel and it is unlikely you would be in the next Master Jury Wheel. If you are contacted again within two (2) years of your service in federal court, you may request excusal.  Jury service performed in your county court is not a consideration  in this excuse category.
  25. 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, Western District of Pennsylvania consists of three divisions: Erie, Pittsburgh, and Johnstown. These three divisions include 25 counties in western Pennsylvania.  Depending on what county you live in will determine what division you report to.  Click on the link to view map and counties in our jurisdiction.  Jurors are drawn from voter registrations in these 25 counties.   http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Applications/pawd_outreach/courthouse_pawd.html
  26. How much will I be paid and how will I receive payment for my jury service?
You will receive $40 per day for service, be reimbursed up to $15.00 per day parking in the Pittsburgh Division, up to $10.00 per day parking in the Erie and Johnstown Divisions with a valid receipt, and roundtrip mileage from your home to the courthouse at the current government rate.  (Federal government employees will not be paid the $40.00 attendance fee.  This does not include the U.S. Postal Service)

All jurors are paid twice a month by check that is mailed to the address provided on your completed juror information form.  If you serve anytime from the 21st through and including the 5th of the month, a check is prepared on the 10th  and  mailed.  If you serve anytime from the 6th  through and including the 20th of the month, a check is prepared on the 25th and mailed.

  27. I live so far away. Will I be reimbursed if I come the day before?
If you have to drive more than 60 miles from your home to the courthouse you are permitted to stay overnight in a hotel or with friends or family and receive subsistence reimbursement.  If you stay overnight, you MUST be needed in court the next day and provide a valid hotel receipt.  If staying with a  friend or family, you must provide the name, address and phone number of that person.  Consult the information accompanying your summons for the subsistence rate applicable in each division.  Any allowable subsistence is paid in the same manner as explained in #26.
  28. 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 ONLY if your income from jury attendance is $600 or more.  This is also the reason we will require your social security number.  The IRS requires it when 1099’s are issued.  The court suggests that you  retain the sub-voucher you receive with your check as a reminder of the amount to report at the end of the year.   You do not need to report mileage and parking reimbursement or subsistence as income as these are incurred, reimbursed expenses.
  29.

What is the Automated Jury Information System (AJIS)?
The Automated Jury Information System (AJIS) enables the court to provide specific, last-minute recorded information to jurors concerning whether or not you need to appear the next day; there is no attendant at this number. Generally you will be instructed to call in at a specific time (see your summons information for instructions) on a specific night and the message will advise you to either report as directed,  that there has been a change in court's schedule, or to call back in again at another designated date/time. If you don't call the AJIS number and appear and were not instructed to do so, you cannot be paid attendance or expense fees and will have to go back home or to work. The number for AJIS is 1-866-498-8562. Be sure to have your participant number ready when you call. Once selected to serve as a juror on a trial, you will then not have to call AJIS every night you are serving.
If you experience a problem when calling AJIS, please try again, as the system circuits may be overloaded with other callers.

  30. 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.
  31. 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 (U. S. Attorney’s Office). The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether a person should have formal charges filed against him or her 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 consecutive days per month for 18 months. Grand jury terms may be extended for 6 months if necessary.
  32. 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.
  33. Who is the contact person if I have additional questions?
If after reviewing the questions and answers on this page you still have questions, you can call the jury office in Pittsburgh at (412) 208-7540, in Erie at (814) 464-9600 and in Johnstown at (814) 533-4504.  You may also e-mail your question. Just click on the appropriate address.
Erie Division
Pittsburgh Division
Johnstown Division 
  34. I received a Juror Exit Questionnaire - do I have to fill it out?
Please do take a few moments to complete the Juror Exit Questionnaire mailed to you with your check. A self-addressed stamped envelope is provided for your convenience.  You may also complete the questionnaire on-line at www.pawd.uscourts.gov.  Click on the Jury Page, the click on the Juror Exit Questionnaire link.  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- Western District of Pennsylvania.  Your input and opinion is important to us.  Your answers are confidential and anonymous.
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