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Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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. See the map containing the counties in our jurisdiction. Jurors are drawn from voter registrations in these 25 counties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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, 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.