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Jury Duty and You

Jury duty is the cornerstone of our judicial system. It is a vital duty of every citizen, and essential to our form of democratic society. Fulfilling your obligation as a juror ensures your fellow citizens a fair decision regarding their property rights, or their life and liberty.

The process of selecting jurors in Erie County begins months prior to a court term. Jurors are selected randomly by a computer from a master list of names compiled from lists of registered voters and licensed drivers in Erie County. For those county residents who do not vote or drive, there is a volunteer program whereby a person may register with the county jury coordinator and be added to the jury file for random selection.

Upon receipt of a juror qualification form, you have five days in which to complete and return the form to the jury coordinator. Erie County utilizes a dual summons process. One summons is to be completed and returned and the second is retained by the juror for information purposes, as well as the instructions for use of the juror call-in system.

All requests for excusals and/or rescheduling jury service must be in writing. The jury coordinator cannot excuse jurors by telephone unless so ordered by a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Erie County operates its jury system on the one day/one trial basis. Each juror is assigned a specific service day. If that juror is not selected to hear a trial on the day they're assigned, at the end of that day their jury service is completed and they may return to their normal routine. However, if a person is selected to hear a trial, they will need to return for each day until the trial is completed. Jurors usually are not required to remain overnight. However, a jury is occasionally sequestered, that is, kept separated from the public for the duration of the trial when the Judge deems the action necessary because of the nature of the trial. If sequestered, the jurors will have an opportunity to communicate with their families through court personnel, and arrangements will be made to have their clothing and personal articles delivered to them. Following their term of jury service jurors will be compensated at the current rate of jury service plus a travel allowance.

For many persons, serving as a juror is an inconvenience and a sacrifice. However, the success of the jury system depends upon your service. Your contribution is important not only to the community but also to you personally, since our form of society is only as strong as its system of justice. Your participation as a juror will leave you with firsthand knowledge of the judicial branch of government. You will find most trials extremely interesting and will feel gratified to have taken part in a real-life drama of great significance to a fellow human being. You should take pride in helping to preserve and strengthen our system of justice.

Jury duty is one of the most important duties a citizen can perform for their country. Many other systems have been tried throughout the world, but our system is the one believed most likely to accomplish justice and fairness. Trial by an impartial jury of citizens from the community is the cornerstone of the American judicial system by which our people judge and settle all controversies. It guarantees that no one person or government will dictate their opinion to others. It guarantees that all final decisions involving our liberty and property rest in the capable hands of the honorable men and women who serve as jurors.

For additional information on jury duty in Erie County, call the Jury Coordinator at 451-6390.  3/11

If you need to consult with an attorney, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.