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Jury Information

Circuit Clerk Jury Information

As the Etowah County Circuit Clerk, and on behalf of the entire judicial system, I would like to thank you for your willingness to serve as a juror. My hope is that at the end of your service you will find the experience both enlightening and gratifying. We know that jury duty can be inconvenient for most of you, but it is one of the most important obligations of our United States citizenship. We will do our best to make efficient use of your time here.

Under the Constitutions of the State of Alabama and the United States of America, we are guaranteed the right to trial by jury in criminal cases and most civil cases. This is a basic right and must be protected by all of us. A trial by jury is fundamental to democracy. In the United States our constitution guarantees each individual the right to trial by "a jury of their peers". As a citizen of Etowah County, you have been chosen to serve in the role of juror. Please be assured that without your service the judicial system could not operate efficiently. Your presence here signifies your commitment to our system of government and our values.

In a jury trial, the jury determines the facts from the evidence presented throughout the trial. At the end of the trial the judge will instruct the jury to consider the evidence and the law and return a “verdict.” The root of the word “verdict” is “to speak the truth.” For those of you who are selected to hear a case, that is what you will be asked to do – return a verdict that is fair, impartial and speaks the truth.

Your commitment to serve is appreciated by the parties, their attorneys and our judiciary.

I hope that you will find information here to answer any questions you may have regarding your juror service. My staff and I will be happy to answer any further questions you may have that are not covered on this website.

“I consider a trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” - Thomas Jefferson

Cassandra Johnson
Circuit Clerk
16th Judicial Circuit

Juror Responsibilities – Frequently Asked Questions

If I am unable to serve on jury duty, whom do I call?

Jury service may be inconvenient, but no one is excused unless jury service would present an undue hardship, extreme inconvenience, or be required by public necessity. You may call the circuit judge listed on your jury summons card or 256-549-2181 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at least one week prior to the date you are to report. Doctor’s excuses can be faxed to the circuit judge’s office. His fax number is located on the jury summons.

What happens if I do not come to court for jury service on the date that I am summoned to appear?

The law in Alabama (Ala.Code 1975 §12-16-82) provides that if a person fails to appear for jury duty on the date summoned, that an order shall be entered directing that person to appear in Court to show cause why he or she “shall not be adjudged guilty of contempt and punished according.” If you have a good excuse for not being able to attend a particular court session you should contact the circuit judge and ask for your jury service to be excused. You CANNOT simply ignore your jury summons.

Who may serve?

To qualify for jury service, a person generally must have a reputation for being honest, must possess good character and sound judgment, and also must:

  • Be a United States citizen;
  • Be over the age of 19 years;
  • Be a 12 month resident of the county;
  • Read, speak, and understand the English language;
  • Be physically and mentally capable; and
  • Not have been convicted of a crime involving “more turpitude” (a crime which violate accepted standards of the community, including crimes involving dishonesty) which resulted in the suspension of a person’s right to vote.

What time do I have to arrive at the judicial building on Monday?

You will need to arrive starting at 8:30 a.m. The presiding judge will swear in jurors and call roll promptly at 9 a.m. The judicial building doors do not open until 8 a.m., a juror must be prompt at all times. A jury trial cannot begin unless all jurors are present. After roll call, you may be asked your address, employment, and spouse’s name and employment. The judge will ask general questions to determine whether you are qualified to serve as a juror. After qualification, you will be sworn in with the following juror’s oath:

“You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will well and truly try all issues which may be submitted to you during the present session and true verdicts render according to the evidence, so help you God.”

Before dismissal on the first day you will be provided with a telephone number to call in case you have an emergency. You will also be provided with instructions for the following day jury service.

Where do I report?

You will be able to enter the Judicial Building through the front entrance on the first floor or the back entrance on the ground floor. The jury assembly room is located on the ground floor. If entering the building at the front entrance, take the elevators located in main hall to ground floor. You will need to report to the jury assembly room located on the ground floor of the judicial building. Please bring your jury summons with you with the approximate round-trip mileage from your home.

You must pass through security each time you enter the judicial building. Note that no weapons or sharp objects are allowed. Please leave these items at home or in your vehicle. When inside the courtroom turn off any cellular phones or electronic devices.

Where do I park?

Parking is available behind and to the side of the judicial building. Additional parking is located across the street behind the Courthouse. Please arrive early to arrange a parking place.

How long will I be required to serve?

Jury service rarely exceeds 5 workdays. You will normally be required to report each morning at 9 a.m. Lunchtimes may vary; please do not leave until you have been instructed. Rarely are jurors required to be “sequestered” or isolated from contact with the public during the course of the trial. Should the judge order sequestration, you will have to spend the night away from your family. You may telephone a relative or friend to bring personal necessities. The court will pay for your meals and lodging during the stay. A bailiff or deputy sheriff will be in charge of the jurors who are sequestered, to ensure that no one contacts them and to protect them.

How should I dress?

Please dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothing which reflects the seriousness of jury service. The courtrooms can be cool at times so please consider bringing a sweater.

What if I have an illness or an emergency during service?

Should an illness of a family member or personal emergency arise, immediately inform the judge’s office or circuit clerk and explain the situation.

What is the difference between a petit and a grand jury?

A petit jury is generally composed of 12 people impaneled to try a criminal or civil case. In a criminal trial, the jury must determine whether the state has presented proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. In a civil trial, the jury decides all questions of fact, and determines whether the plaintiff has a valid complaint and should be awarded the relief requested.

An 18 member grand jury may be impaneled to hear evidence and to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to formally charge the defendant with committing a crime, and to require an accused to stand trial. The grand jury does not determine the accused’s guilt or innocence.

How is a petit jury selected?

A prospective juror is asked questions to determine whether he or she has knowledge of, or has an interest in the case to be tried. The questioning of a prospective juror is called a “voir dire examination” and may be conducted by the judge and attorneys. Upon completion of a “voir dire examination”, each attorney may strike the names of jurors from the list of prospective jurors until only 12 names remain. The court may require alternate jurors to serve who shall have the same qualifications, be subject to the same examination, take the same oath, and have the same functions and powers as regular jurors. Being struck does not reflect on a juror’s honesty or intelligence. There are many reasons why an attorney may prefer some jurors to others for a particular trial.

How is a grand jury selected?

A circuit judge randomly selects the grand jury from the qualified juror pool. The grand jury may be summoned to serve one term or several short terms.

Amenities & Policies

Concessions - There are drink and snack machines available in the jury assembly room. Please feel free to bring a snack with you. Eating is permitted in the jury assembly break room.

Electronic Devices - Cell phones, pagers and laptops are permitted in the judicial building. You are required to turn them off when you enter a courtroom. Wifi is available in the jury assembly room.

Personal Belongings - Do not leave any personal belongings in the juror assembly room. You will need to take all of your personal belongings with you to the courtrooms and to lunch.

Restrooms - Restrooms are conveniently located on every floor in the judicial building and across from the jury assembly room.

Smoking - Smoking is permitted outside the judicial building. Remember you will pass through security each time you enter the building.

Waiting Times - Please feel free to bring your laptop computer, book, reading materials, sewing, knitting, playing cards, etc. to occupy you while you wait.

Juror Service – Juror Pay – Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be paid for Jury service?

For each required service day, you are entitled to be paid by the circuit clerk an expense allowance of $10.00 a day, plus a mileage allowance of $.05 for each mile traveled to the judicial building from your place of residence. (One round trip per day)

May I waive or forego my expenses and mileage allowance if I chose to do so?

Yes. By obtaining from the circuit clerk and filling out the form “Affidavit-Waiver of Payment for Services as a Juror,” you may forego all the expenses and mileage allowances due you.

Will my expense allowance be deducted from my salary?

No. Section 12-16-8(b), Code of Alabama, 1975, specifically provides that a “full time employee” is entitled to their usual wages during jury service.

Jury Service – My Employment – Frequently Asked Questions

Who would be considered a “full time employee” in terms of being able to receive their salary or wages during jury service?

The courts have defined “full time” as the amount of time considered as the normal or standard amount of work time for a given period, such as a day, week, or month. In most employment situations, “full time” means 40 hours a week. Also, the phrase “full-time employee” may be defined by industry standards, in addition to the standards of that particular community. The Attorney General of Alabama has concluded that the phrase “full-time employee” includes an employee who is paid hourly wages as well as salaried employee.

If I am summoned to court as a juror, but I was not chosen to serve, am I still entitled to an expense allowance and mileage?

Yes. As a summoned juror, you are entitled to an expense and mileage allowance regardless of whether you actually served on a jury that particular day. However, you are not authorized to receive an expense and mileage allowance if you are notified in advance that your services are not needed for that day, or if you report only to be excused.

If I work outside the state of Alabama and I am summoned as a juror in the county where I reside in the state of Alabama, am I entitled to my usual compensation from my employer?

Not necessarily. Alabama law does not govern employers of other states. If you wish to find out whether you can be compensated for Alabama jury service, you must consult the law of the state in which you are employed. Note: The Attorney General in Georgia has concluded that it is unlawful for an employer in Georgia to fire an employee working in Georgia because the employee was absent from his/her employment for the purpose of serving as a juror in Alabama. For example, if a person is a resident of Alabama and works in Georgia and that person is summoned for jury duty in Alabama, the person’s employer in Georgia cannot fire the person for being absent for serving as a juror. To do so would subject the employer to civil liability.

If I work second or third shift (classified as a shift other than the typical 8-5 workday), must I go to work after I have served on a jury for six to eight hours during the day and am I expected to report for jury duty the next day?

No. The law requires that a juror be excused from work until the next day so the juror may be fully attentive to his/her duties as a juror. A juror is excused from work each day they are serving as a juror.

Will my employer excuse me from work?

A prospective juror must present the summons for jury duty to his/her employer to be excused from work for the days (s)he is required to serve. Should you be released earlier than expected, you should return to your job. Alabama law states that a full-time employee will receive his/her usual wages while serving as a juror. A “Certificate of Jury Service” may be obtained from the circuit clerk as proof of jury service for your employer.

State law prohibits an employer from dismissing an employee because (s)he is summoned for jury service. If an employee is discharged solely because (s)he has been summoned for jury service, the employee may have a cause of action brought against the employer in any state court and be entitled to recover both actual and punitive damages.

Jury Service – The Trial – Frequently Asked Questions

A Juror must give his/her undivided attention to the jury selection/trial

During jury selection, jurors must provide complete and accurate answers to all questions. It is better to give too much information than not enough. A juror should listen carefully to all questions by both parties on direct or cross examination of the witness, the testimony given in response to the questions and the judge’s instructions to the jury.

A Juror must not research the case through broadcast and newspaper accounts.

A juror shall not listen to radio or television accounts concerning the trial, or read articles about the trial. During a trial, if a juror has personal knowledge about any facts in the case, the juror has a duty to disclose his/her knowledge to the judge. A person who knows any facts which could materially affect the case should not serve as a juror.

A Juror must not discuss the case with anyone, including relatives, friends, or trial participants.

Once selection of a jury begins, a potential juror should not discuss the case with anyone. A juror can only discuss the case during deliberations with jurors assigned to that case. If someone attempts to talk to a juror, (s)he should report it to the judge. However, after the trial has concluded, a juror may discuss the case with anyone, but the juror is not obligated to do so.

A Juror must not conduct independent investigations or experiments to verify testimony given in the case.

The jury’s verdict can only be based upon evidence presented in court. If the court finds it necessary for the jury to inspect the scene of an accident or alleged crime, the judge will arrange for the entire jury to do so together. Thus, a juror must not conduct investigations or experiment by himself/herself. Jurors must not conduct any independent investigation of their own, such as visiting the scene of the incident, considering news reports or consulting the internet, newspapers, magazines or other publications.

A Juror must be impartial until (s)he hears all the evidence and law applicable to the case.

A juror should listen to the evidence presented by both sides carefully and avoid “taking sides” until (s)he has an opportunity to hear all the evidence and the judge’s instructions as to the law applicable to that particular case. Keep an open mind. Until the judge tells the jury to begin deliberations, jurors must not discuss the facts of the case among themselves or with anyone else. Jurors must not engage in any conversation with anyone involved in the trial including attorneys, parties or witnesses.

What happens after the trial?

When the trial is concluded, the jury will render a verdict in accordance with the facts as determined from the evidence and the law given to you by the Court. After the trial’s completion, you are not obligated to answer questions presented by attorneys or the press. If unwanted questions persist, contact the court immediately.

The Law as it Applies to the Duties of Jurors and Their Employers (Jury Duty):

When a person is on jury duty and misses work, is she or he entitled to be paid his/her usual compensation by his /her employer?

Yes. (Code of Alabama §12-16-8). See also AG Opinion 86-00276 and 80-00269

Can employers subtract the $10.00 per day expense allowance and mileage from their usual compensation?

No. AG Opinions 92-00182 and 91-00190 have held that the expense allowance and mileage are not compensation and, as such, are not deductible from a juror’s usual compensation.

Selected Alabama Statutes: Employee/Employer Relationship and Juror Service

Section 12-16-8, Code of Alabama, 1975

Employees excused from employment; compensation; postponement of service.

(a) Upon receiving a summons to report for jury duty, any employee, on the next day he or she is engaged in his or her employment, shall exhibit the summons to his or her immediate superior, and the employee shall thereupon be excused from his or her employment for the day or days required of him or her in serving as a juror in any court created by the constitutions of the United States or of the State of Alabama or the laws of the United States or of the State of Alabama.

(b) An employee may not be required or requested to use annual, vacation, unpaid leave, or sick leave for time spent responding to a summons for jury duty, time spent participating in the jury selection process, or for time spent actually serving on a jury. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an employer to provide annual, vacation, or sick leave to employees who otherwise are not entitled to the benefits under policies of the employer.

(c) Notwithstanding the excused absence provided in subsection (a), any full-time employee shall be entitled to his or her usual compensation received from such employment.

(d) It shall be the duty of all persons paying jurors their fee or compensation for services to issue to each juror a statement showing the daily fee or compensation and the total fee or compensation received by the juror.

(e) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a court shall automatically postpone and reschedule the service of a summoned juror who is an employee of an employer with five or fewer full-time employees, or their equivalent, if another employee of that employer also has been summoned to appear during the same period. A postponement pursuant to this section shall not affect an individual's right to one automatic postponement under Section 12-16-63.1.

(Acts 1969, No. 619, p. 1126; Act 2005-311, 1st Sp. Sess., §1.)

Section 12-16-8.1, Code of Alabama, 1975

Discharge of employee or adverse employee action.

(a) No employer in this state may discharge any employee or subject any employee to an adverse employment action solely because he or she serves on any jury empaneled under any state or federal statute; provided, however, that the employee reports for work on his or her next regularly scheduled hour after being dismissed from any jury.

(b) Any employee who is so discharged or subjected to an adverse employment action shall have a cause of action against the employer for the discharge or adverse employment action in any court of competent jurisdiction in this state and shall be entitled to recover both actual and punitive damages.

(c) The provisions of this section are supplemental to any statutes, existing or to be enacted in the future, that are designed to protect and safeguard a citizen's right and duty to serve on a lawful jury, and the provisions of this section shall not repeal or supersede the provisions of any law not directly inconsistent herewith.

(Acts 1980, No. 80-747, p. 1520; Act 2005-311, 1st Sp. Sess., §1.)

Selected Opinions1 : Employee/Employer Relationship and Juror Service:

Attorney General Opinion Synopses:

  • AG Opinion 86-276: “A full-time employee who services on jury duty is entitled to his hourly wages based on his normal workday.”
  • AG Opinion 89-384: “…where employment agency places an individual with company on temporary basis, said agency should compensate such employee for jury service if worker is full-time employee based on industry standards. The employee should be paid his usual hourly compensation for the number of hours his normal workday would include.”
  • AG Opinion 90-229: “Full-time employee’…includes employees paid hourly wages as well as salaried employees.”
  • AG Opinion 92-182: “The payment for jury service as provided in Code of Alabama 1975, §12-19-210, is an expense allowance and should not be deducted from a juror’s usual compensation due from his employer.” Note: The opinion has been made moot by the 2005 amendment to §12-16-8 effectively eliminating the contention that the ten dollar juror expense allowance or mileage can be deducted by the employer.
  • AG Opinion 93-048: “The definition of “full-time” employee under §12-16-8-Code, varies in accordance with industry standards, but does not necessarily apply only to those who work forty hours a week.”
  • AG Opinion 95-007: “…a second-or third-shift employee, who has served on a jury for six to eight hours of a day and is expected to serve as a juror the n3ext day, would not be required to report to work on his next shift”
  • AG Opinion 97-134:”…the term ‘usual compensation’” as used in §12-16-8(c) “includes the daily average tip income received by ‘wait-staff’ employees of restaurants”
  • AG Opinion 97-138: “…an employee who works a 24-hour shift, who has served as a juror during the day and is expected to serve as a juror the next day, would not be required to report to work for the remainder of the 24 hour shift. If the employee is not required to serve as a juror the next day, the employee must return to work at the next scheduled hour.”
  • AG Opinion 02-324:”An employee many not be required to use paid leave from his or her employment when summoned for jury duty.”

1Copies of these Attorney General Opinions are available online through the Alabama Attorney General’s Website:

http://www.ago.state.al.us/