Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Who may be called to serve as a juror?

According to the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) 191, “The Legislature recognizes that trial by jury is a cherished constitutional right, and that jury service is an obligation of citizenship”. Jury duty is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share. You are qualified to serve as a juror if you can answer "yes" to the following statements:

I am a citizen of the United States
I am 18 years of age or older
I am a resident of Riverside County
I can speak and understand the English language
I have not been convicted of a felony or I have been convicted but my civil rights have been restored
I am not a peace officer as defined in Penal Code section 830.1, 830.2(a) or 830.33(a)
I have not served as a grand juror or trial juror within the last twelve months
I am not the subject of a conservatorship (a conservator is appointed by court order)

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How do names get selected to be summoned for jury duty?

All persons selected for jury service must be selected at random from sources that include a representative cross-section of the population of the area served by the court. In Riverside County, records are obtained from both the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Registrar of Voters. We receive juror information twice yearly from these agencies. If you change your name or address you must notify DMV and ROV to ensure that we receive your correct information in the future.  Please remember that we receive the information exactly as it is listed with these agencies. Any differences between the two records may result in a duplicate summons.

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What should I do if I receive a jury summons in the mail?

READ THE SUMMONS!!! The summons contains a great deal of information about where, when and how to report for jury service, as well as a questionnaire which will help if you need to have your service postponed or you are requesting to be excused.

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Must I respond to the jury summons?

Yes. The jury summons is an official court order; failure to obey such an order could result in a finding of contempt; you could be arrested, fined or placed in jail. [CCP Section §209]
Your juror summons contains a 9-digit “badge number”. The juror badge number is used when calling the automated jury system of the Riverside Superior Court at 951.275.5076 or 760.342.6264 for specific reporting instructions or when using the court’s website at www.riverside.courts.ca.gov.

You may also email Jury Services at:

JuryRiv@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Riverside and Corona
JurySW@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Murrieta and Banning
JuryInd @riverside.courts.ca.gov– Indio and Blythe

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How can I speak to a real person?

Monday morning is the busiest time for phone calls and the wait time will be longer.  If possible, call in the afternoon. Please remember that many questions and some transactions may be handled by using your juror badge number on our automated phone system at 951. 275-5076 or 760. 342-6264 or on the internet at www.riverside.courts.ca.gov.

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How long will I be expected to serve a a juror?

Our court is on a "one day, one trial" system. Jurors are required to follow the reporting instructions on the summons. Those jurors who are asked to report should plan on at least one full day, longer if assigned to a trial.  If assigned to a courtroom on the day you report for jury duty, you are required to follow the court’s appearance instructions for that trial.  If you are selected to serve as a sworn juror or alternate, your length of service will be dependent on the length of the trial. Most trials average 4 to 5 days.  Judicial officers will attempt to give you a time estimate for your trial when you first arrive in the courtroom. Trials vary depending on the issues involved and how long the jurors spend in deliberations.

Jurors summoned to the Riverside County Courts are on telephone standby for one week and may be instructed to call for reporting instructions numerous times over a one-week period. If you are not instructed to report, you may be required to call again and report later in the week.  DO NOT STAY AT HOME IF YOU ARE TOLD TO CALL BACK.  PLEASE GO TO WORK AND CALL BACK FROM WORK.  Normally, once you are informed that you must be in court, you will be given enough time to report. If asked to report and not assigned to a courtroom on that day, the term of service will be completed.

If you complete the call in process and are not asked to report for service by Friday, you have fulfilled the service requirements for at least one year. A sincere effort is made to summon to the courthouse only those jurors required to hear trials.

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What hours will I serve?

Normally, the courts in Riverside County are open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Each judge sets the particular hours during the day in which he or she hears trials. Oftentimes, a judge may not hear jury trials on one or more days each week, so that they may attend to other cases. Most courts, after the completion of evidence, require jurors to deliberate Monday - Friday; however, most do not require jurors to deliberate on Saturday or Sunday or on holidays.

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How often am I required to serve?

There is no limit to the number of times that you may serve in a lifetime. However, you are only obligated to serve jury duty once every 12 months. Jurors who are selected and sworn as trial jurors or alternates will be excused from serving again for 24 months at the end of the trial.   

Please note that you may also be summoned to and required to serve in Federal Court. Participating in the Superior Court check in and jury panel selection process does not exempt you from serving in Federal Court. Only those jurors who have served in Superior Court as a sworn juror or alternate may be excused from service in Federal Court. You may be required to provide proof of your jury service in order to be excused.

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My employer pays an unlimited number of days for jury duty. Does that mean that I will be called more often than other employees?

No. Jury selection is a random process. When you are summoned for jury duty we have no way of knowing who your employer is or the number of days that your employer pays for jury service.

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Why can't the public volunteer for jury service?

The California Civil Code of Procedures states, “All persons selected for jury service shall be selected at random, from a source or sources inclusive of a representative cross-section of the population of the area served by the court”.  While we would like to accept volunteers, it would violate the “randomness” provision of this code.  In other words, the law does not allow us to accept volunteers.

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Isn't there an age limit for jury service?

As long as you are 18 years of age or older, we will not excuse you from jury service because of your age. Excusing a person based on age would be a form of discrimination.

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My doctor submitted a medical excuse for me on my summons last year. Why do I have to submit another one this year?

Each medical excuse applies only to the specific jury summons for which it has been submitted and is granted for a one-year period. Permanent excuses for medical reasons are subject to review. All medical excuses must be signed by a physician. Jurors 70 years of age and older may be excused for medical reasons upon their written request and are not required to submit a note from their doctor.

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My request for excuse was denied. What should I do now?

You will need to report for jury duty as instructed on your summons. If you have a question regarding the reason for the denial, call the Jury Services Division Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

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My request was denied/postponed pending additional information. What does that mean?

You may qualify for an excuse or disqualification but all information necessary for the court to make a determination was not provided.  Please resubmit the excuse in writing and include more information or call the office and speak to staff to find out what additional information is needed.

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There is more than one person at my address with the same name. I am not sure who the summons belongs to in my family.

Please contact the Jury Services Division by email or by phone at 951. 275-5076 or 760. 342-6264. If you provide us with the badge number we can check the date of birth to determine who has been summoned.

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I received a summons for jury service but I just served less than a year ago. May I be excused?

Yes. Complete the summons and request to be excused based on your previous service.  Include the badge number or the name you served under, if different from the summons you just received. You should receive a summons no more than once every 12 months. Please remember that we receive the information exactly as it is listed with DMV and Registrar of Voters. Any differences between the two records may result in a duplicate summons. Information would need to be corrected at the source to avoid this problem in the future.

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My address is incorrect on the summons. How do I submit a change of address?

You can submit your change of address when you report for jury duty or by calling the Jury Services Division at 951. 275.5076 or 760. 342.6264, during normal business hours. We receive our juror information twice yearly from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Registrar of Voters. You will need to change your address at the source to ensure that we receive your correct information in the future.

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What about my job and how can I serve if my employer won't allow time off or pay me?

Under Labor Code §230, your employer must allow time off for jury service. Employers cannot discharge or otherwise penalize an employee who is summoned to court to serve as a juror or to testify as a witness. Many employers are good corporate citizens and continue a juror's wages and benefits throughout the period of service. Once you receive your summons you should inform your supervisor about the dates of service and ask what (if any) written policies your company has regarding jury service pay. If your employer asks you to postpone your service,you may request a postponement for up to ninety days..

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The nature of my job (truck driver, graveyard shift, etc.) makes it difficult to call in for five consecutive days. What can I do?

If standby telephone service does not work for you, jurors summoned to the Riverside County Courts may contact a jury clerk to make alternative arrangements to serve.

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May I postpone my jury service to a more convenient date?

Yes. You may postpone your service using the juror badge number printed on your summons.  This can be done on the automated phone system at 951. 275.5076 or 760. 342.6264 or by clicking on the postponement option on our website. 

You may also email the Jury Services Division at:
JuryRiv@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Riverside and Corona
JurySW@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Murrieta and Banning
JuryInd@riverside.courts.ca.gov– Indio and Blythe

Generally, the jury commissioner will grant one postponement and usually for no more than 90 days. If you have already received one postponement, you may need to speak to a judge to further delay your service.

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May I advance my jury service?

It may be possible to advance your jury service date.  Contact the Jury Services Division at 951.275-5076 or 760. 342-6264 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

You may also email the Jury Services Division at:
JuryRiv@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Riverside and Corona
JurySW@riverside.courts.ca.gov – Murrieta and Banning
JuryInd@riverside.courts.ca.gov– Indio and Blythe

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My occupation makes it difficult to serve. May I be excused from jury duty?

Pursuant to the Civil Code of Procedure 219 only Peace Officers as defined by Penal Code sections 830.1, 830.2(a) and 830.33(a) are exempt from serving as a juror on civil or criminal matters. Peace Officers as defined by Penal Code section 830.2, subdivisions (b) and (c) are exempt from serving as a juror on criminal matters. Other than these narrowly defined exemptions, Civil Code of Procedure 204 states, “No eligible person shall be exempt from service as a trial juror by reason of occupation, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status, or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.” While we understand that there are some occupations that make it difficult to serve as a juror, it is very important that each jury panel represent a cross-section of our community. In other words, the law requires that every eligible person participate in jury service when summoned.

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I am a business owner and my business shuts down if I'm not there. May I be excused?

No. You may postpone to a more convenient time to help you plan ahead or make arrangements but the law does not provide an exemption for business owners from jury service. The State of California has a “one day or one trial” term of service, meaning that, barring unusual circumstances, you should be released from jury duty for a one-year period if not assigned to a courtroom by the end of the day that you appear for duty. Once assigned to a courtroom and placed in the jury box, you will have an opportunity to state your hardship. The court will then determine whether or not you qualify for a hardship under the statutory guidelines.

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I am a student. May I be excused from jury duty?

No. Full or part-time student status does not qualify as an excuse from service. You may postpone your jury service to a time when you have a break in your school schedule.

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I lost my summons and don't know when I'm supposed to report. What can I do?

Contact Jury Services staff by email or by phone at 951. 275.5076 or 760.342.6264 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. A staff member will be able to check your status and provide you with your juror badge number.

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Is there a specific dress code when reporting for jury duty?

You should dress as you would if you were going to a business meeting or nice social function. Shorts, tank tops, bare midriffs, beach shoes or similar dress are not allowed in the courtrooms. If the judge finds your clothing inappropriate you could be ordered to go home to change or to return to court on another day. You should check with the jury commissioner if you have any doubts. Please keep in mind that the temperature of the jury assembly areas and courtrooms can be unpredictable.

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What happens if I am going to arrive late to court?

CALL!!! If this is your first day, telephone the jury commissioner’s office at the number printed on your summons. If you are already assigned to a courtroom, contact the courtroom assistant and explain your situation. Remember, the trial cannot proceed until everyone is present, including all jurors and alternates. Although there may be delays caused by any number of reasons, it is very important for jurors to be on time. If you do not have a good excuse, the judge has the power to fine you for being late or absent.

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Is there any special way I must act in court?

You should conduct yourself as you would at any serious and important event. You should be courteous at all times. It is important that you remain alert when the court is in session. You may bring a book or magazine to read while you are waiting for court to begin or during recess, but please do not read while court is in session.

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Why do they ask so many personal questions and am I required to answer them?

Everyone who is summoned into court as a juror comes with past experiences and opinions which may affect the way a person views evidence or the testimony of some witnesses. The process of questioning prospective jurors is called "voir dire" and is controlled by the judge. [Civil cases - CCP Section 222.5] [Criminal cases - CCP Section 223; and JAS Section 8.5(c)] The questioning is designed to help the parties, the judge and the juror learn of experiences, relationships or opinions which might cause the juror to base a decision on something other than the law and evidence presented at trial. For example, a juror who had recently lost a child in an alcohol related traffic accident may not feel emotionally detached enough to render a fair and impartial verdict in a case where the defendant is charged with driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Prospective jurors take an oath to answer all questions truthfully [CCP Section 232]; however, most judges will provide individuals an opportunity to answer questions privately when the juror indicates that he or she would be embarrassed or would feel uncomfortable providing a full, complete and truthful answer in the public forum of open court. Upon showing of "good cause," the judge can order the records of juror's answers sealed.

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What are 'alternate jurors'?

When the judge believes that a case is likely to last for more than one day, additional jurors may be chosen to act as alternates. These additional jurors are chosen to avoid having to retry the case should one or more jurors become unable to serve and be excused during the trial (for example, if a juror becomes very ill or experiences a death in the family), leaving too few jurors to decide the case. Throughout the trial all jurors will sit together in the courtroom, paying close attention to the evidence and the judge’s instructions. Alternate jurors do not participate in the deliberation phase of the trial. After the closing arguments of the attorneys and the court’s final instructions, the alternates may be excused, and may go home or back to work to await the verdict. However, until the verdict is returned the alternates are not allowed to talk to anyone about the case.

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Why are there such long breaks and lunch hours during a trial?

Each day the trial judge may handle more than one case. Sometimes he or she will have a calendar involving dozens of cases. During the trial, attorneys may need time to organize evidence, interview witnesses and prepare answers to legal questions raised during the proceedings.

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May I take notes during the trial?

Yes. Usually the court will provide you with a notebook and pen and the judge will give you special instructions about note-taking. You should not become so involved in taking notes that you miss the nature of witness testimony or important points of the testimony. The notes must stay in the courtroom during the trial, but you will have them available to you during deliberations.

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May jurors ask questions during the trial or deliberations?

If you have a question, write it on a piece of paper and ask the deputy or court attendant to hand it to the judge. The judge will respond appropriately by writing a note back or answering directly from the bench, or the judge may indicate that it is not proper to answer the question at that time.

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May I talk to anyone about what is happening in court?

Jurors are judges of the facts and should conduct themselves like a judge would conduct himself or herself. You must base your decision on the information that you receive in the courtroom and not from any other source. This means that you may not discuss the case with anyone, even a fellow juror, until it is completed and has been submitted to you for a decision. Jurors must be able to keep an open mind on all the issues in a case until they have heard all of the evidence and the instructions of the judge; and thus should not form or express any opinions on the case until the end. [Penal Code Section §1122.5] When the case is over you may discuss it with anyone you'd like, or you may keep silent if you prefer. However, you are prohibited for a period of 90 days from profiting from your service. [Penal Code Section 1122]

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Can other people find out that I was a juror?

The names of jurors are "public record"; however, in criminal cases, after a verdict is recorded, all identifying information is automatically sealed. A defendant or defendant's counsel may request that the court provide personal juror information for the purpose of developing issues on appeal or any other lawful purpose. The court, on its own, may limit use of or access to confidential juror information; also, the court may require that identifying juror information not be disclosed to other parties or individuals, including the press or other media. [CCP Section 237]

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Does Riverside Superior Court provide child care?

The Larson Justice Center in Indio and the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta each have a children's room available for jurors' children while serving jury duty. Your child must be at least 3 years of age and potty trained. Children's room services are available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. No service is available during the lunch hour. Parents must pick up their children during the lunch hour and provide them lunch.

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Will I be paid for jury service?

The amount a court may pay jurors is set by the State Legislature. Currently, the rate of compensation, beginning on the second day of service, is $15.00 per day and thirty-four cents ($0.34) for each mile traveled, one-way, to the courthouse. Mileage is automatically calculated from the juror’s zip code to the court. Usually, jurors must pay for their individual lunches, but the cost of parking (excluding parking tickets) may be paid by the Court. (CCP §215) - A government employee is not entitled to per diem pay for serving jury duty if they receive regular compensation and benefits while performing jury service from their employer. A government employee is one who is employed by a federal, state, or local government entity or by any other public entity such as the Regents of the University of California, a county, a city, district, public authority, public agency, or any other political subdivision or public corporation in the state (CCP 481.200).

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Are there assistive listening devices available?

Assistive listening devices are available upon request. Please notify jury staff.

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Are jurors subject to search when entering a court facility?

When entering any court facility you may be screened through a security device. Do not bring knives, scissors, handwork needles, crochet hooks, metal nail files, screwdrivers, tools, wallet chains, handcuff keys or any item that may be used as a weapon.

Warning: All persons entering court facilities are subject to search. All weapons are prohibited. It is a felony to bring firearms or other unauthorized weapons into court buildings. This includes all knives, tear gases (pepper spray/mace, etc.) taser and stun guns or deadly weapons (Penal Code 171B). Items considered weapons will be confiscated upon entering.

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How may I be disqualified or excused from service?

A juror may only be disqualified from service if they fall into any one of the criteria covered in sections A-I on your summons. A juror may also be excused from service if the request is due to a physical/mental disability or impairment; or as a result of caring for another, as listed in sections J and L of your summons. If either of these scenarios apply to you, you may download and print the Juror Response Form for your respective region. (see below)

Once you have completed and signed the Juror Response Form, you may return the form by mail at the address listed on the bottom of the form, by fax, or scan and email it to the jury assembly room at the court address, fax number or email address on your summons.

Riverside Murrieta Indio

 

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