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What to do When Called for Jury Duty

The Superior Court Los Angeles
800-877-5879 or 213-974-5814
You've received the dreaded notice--a summons to report for jury duty. Friends and colleagues share that they've been disregarding the notices for years, and advise you to do the same. But you should know that the Los Angeles Superior Court will now sanction you for not showing up--probably resulting in a fine and jury service.

Because a 1999 court rule established One Trial Jury Service, jurors now summoned for jury duty need only be present at a courthouse for a single day of jury selection. If chosen for a jury, the juror must serve until a decision is reached, usually less than four days. All other jurors are excused at the end of the day and have completed their jury duty obligation for at least 12 months. And don't count on your good excuse to get out of serving: judges rarely grant a request to be excused from jury duty these days. Professionals, stay-at-home caregivers, judges and other once-excused citizens now find themselves in Los Angeles Superior Court's jury boxes. Review your summons for legal reasons to be excused from jury duty.

Will bigotry get you excused from serving? Probably not, because you'll just get shuffled to another courtroom to serve on another jury.

Residents of Santa Clarita will typically be called for orientation to the San Fernando courthouse, but may be called to any courthouse within 20 miles of their residence. In fact, they may legally be required to serve anywhere within Los Angeles County, but the system is set up to keep a resident within 20 miles of their home. Assignments are random, so you may be selected to serve on a jury in Santa Clarita or in San Fernando. You can request to serve at the courthouse of your choice, but allowances are typically reserved for physicians, child caregivers, the self employed, or for medical reasons with a doctor's excuse.

You must complete your service within twelve months of being called. Through the automated system, you may change up to three times. By calling 800-877-5879, you may be able to postpone up to six times--providing your service is completed within twelve months.

You can also log into the web portal at the link above to change your serve date--up to three times within three months of the call date. After that time, you will need to speak to an agent.

Weekly 4,000 jurors are called to the San Fernando Courthouse.

If summoned for federal court, you would be excused from serving within LA County once your service is completed with the federal court.

Courts/Santa Clarita Courthouse

U.S. District Court
In most situations you have been summoned to appear at the Federal Court closest to your home. As a Santa Clarita resident, this would be Los Angeles.

The Federal Court has two types of juries: Petit and Grand.

You will be on call for two weeks and must call in once a week to verify your reporting instructions. Just like the LA Superior Court, not all jurors will be required to report. You will receive subsistence assistance if you live more than 80 miles away from the courthouse to which you are called. If you report to the courthouse and are not required to serve on a jury, your service is considered completed. While most trials last an average 4-5 days, you are required to be available for 8 days, or until the conclusion of the trial.

You will be on duty for six to twelve months, meeting once per week for typically five hours per day. Absences for medical appointments, vacations, graduations, etc may be accommodated, but 16 jurors must be present. Once selected, you may appear before a judge and request to be excused or have your jury service postponed because of employment, business, or financial hardship. If you are not selected, you will be excused and your service will be considered completed. If you have heard testimony in a prior jury service, you may be excused.

You may be excused for a physical or mental disability, although if you are employed you will need a doctor's note. You may also be excused as a caregiver; a financial, employment or business hardship; due to traveling over 80 miles to the courthouse (and proving that the court's financial assistance will not relieve that hardship); or due to a language barrier.

You may postpone service three times within one year from your initial report date.

Updated March 29, 2017
Endorsed by
County of Los Angeles SCV Chamber of Commerce California Travel and Tourism Commission
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