Special (COVID-19) note: A juror’s safety and well-being are important to the Court. The State and County have loosened certain restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the Court, in consultation with the County Health Director, continues to utilize numerous safety measures. This includes, but is not limited to: utilizing screening questions upon entry to the Clay County Courtroom and adequate and physical spacing of at least six (6) feet maintained between persons. Jurors are encouraged to bring their own masks, as a mask will have to be worn at all times, but PPE supplies will also be made available. The Court understands that all citizens may have some level of caution in these times. If a juror has health characteristics that cause them to have an extraordinary health risk or if there is a need for ADA accommodations, please call Melissa Stellner, Clerk of the District Court, at (785) 632-3443. Likewise, if a juror has a conflict, and cannot appear on the summoned trial date or during the expected days of trial, please contact the Clerk of the District Court immediately. Do not delay, or wait until the day of the jury trial to advise.
The jury panel was selected at random by the use of a computer from voters registration lists and driver's license lists. If you are at least 18 years of age and a resident of the county, you are eligible to serve as a juror. To make sure the trial is still scheduled please call the number on your Jury Summons after 5 P.M. the night before you are to serve.
The judges are well aware that calling you for jury duty will result in an inconvenience to you. Personal inconvenience is not a justifiable excuse. If you have a good reason because of health, occupation, business or personal affairs, make it known to the Jury Coordinator, and it will be given due consideration by the District Court Judge. If you have already been chosen to serve on the jury panel, you cannot be excused, except under compelling and persuasive circumstances.
Payment of Juror Fees
Jury service is one of the highest duties of citizenship and cannot be measured by compensation, any more than the right to vote. You are entitled to a fee of $10 for each day that you are in attendance in Court, whether or not you are selected as a juror. In addition, you will receive an allotted cents-per-mile fee for your private vehicle coming to and from the Courthouse, if you live outside of city limits. Consult your employer concerning absence and compensation policies while you are serving on jury duty.
Juror Special Knowledge
A juror is not expected to have any special talents or training in the law. The Judge presiding in the trial will decide the law. You will decide the facts by applying the law to the facts as you find them to have existed from the evidence presented by the lawyers and reach a verdict. You will be required to exercise your experience and knowledge common to all persons in general.
Reporting for Jury Duty
Report to the second floor of the Courthouse and check in with the clerk in room 204. The Judges have requested that in order to maintain the dignity and importance of court proceedings that all jurors report for jury duty in reasonable and appropriate attire. We believe you will share our view that clothing such as shorts, tank tops, sweat suits, etc., are not appropriate attire for jury duty.
Voir Dire Examination
A sufficient number of jurors will be called from which 12 or 6 will be selected. A questioning process, called voir dire, is used to determine a fair and unprejudiced jury panel. The Judge and counsel may participate in the questioning. The voir dire examination opens with the short statement to inform the jurors about the case, the parties involved, and their lawyers. Questions are then asked to find out if anyone has a personal interest in the case, or knows of any reason why he or she cannot render an impartial verdict. Other questions will determine whether any panel member has a prejudice, or a feeling that might influence him or her.
Conduct of the Jury During the Trial
Jurors shall pay close attention to the testimony and keep an open mind. They should not discuss the case before the testimony is complete and the case is submitted to the jury. If the jury has a question that arises during deliberations, the juror shall write down the question and give it to the Bailiff, who will submit it to the Judge presiding. Jurors should not take notes during the trial, unless approved by the Court.
Main Stages of the Trial
The trial proceeds when the jury has been sworn to honestly and faithfully hear the case. The main stages of trial are:
- The opening statements of the lawyers by each side. (May be omitted or waived).
- The plaintiff or the State calls witnesses and produces evidence to prove its case. The defendant may cross-examine each witness.
- The defendant may call witnesses and produce evidence to disprove the plaintiff's case and to prove the defendant's claims. The plaintiff or the State may cross-examine.
- The plaintiff or the State may call witnesses to disprove what was said by the defendant's witnesses. (This is called rebuttal.)
- The defendant may call witnesses to disprove or clarify the plaintiff's or State's rebuttal evidence. (This is called surrebuttal.)
- The Judge instructs the jury as to the law.
- Closing arguments are made by the lawyers on each side.
- The jury deliberations occur in the jury room.
Instructions to the Jury
The instructions of the Judge to the jury are a statement of the rules of the law. It is the jury's duty to reach its own conclusion upon the evidence. As to the law, the Judge's instructions control. You will apply the law as given, to the facts as you find them to be from the evidence. The Judge may include certain questions to which he wishes an answer from the jury. This may be done when specific questions of fact must be answered to support the verdict.
In the Jury Room
After the jury hears the evidence, the instructions of the Court and the arguments of counsel, the jury retires to the jury room and first elects a presiding juror or foreman. Jurors should then enter into the discussion with open minds. Jurors should freely exchange views and should not hesitate to change their opinion if shown to be wrong. Each juror has a duty to give full consideration to the opinion of fellow jurors. Jurors should try to reach a verdict whenever possible. In many cases, all jurors must agree upon the verdict. Should there be instances when less than a unanimous verdict is permissible, you will be specifically instructed by the Judge.
The performance of jury service is the fulfillment of a most important civil obligation. Jury service is one of the most valuable public services that a citizen has an opportunity to perform.