- What should I bring with me to the courthouse?
- What will my day of jury service be like?
- How long will I serve for?
- Will I be able to get food or beverages?
- Am I allowed to bring my cell phone or laptop into the courthouse?
- If there is an emergency at home, how will my family contact me?
- Where will I park?
- What happens at jury selection? What is a "challenge"?
- Will I be sequestered during a trial?
- When can I leave the courthouse?
What should I bring with me to the courthouse?
Be sure to bring your completed Confidential Juror Questionnaire (CJQ), which can be found on the back of your Reminder Notice. You can also complete the CJQ online , download and print a copy, and bring it to the courthouse. The information you enter is not transmitted to or saved by the OJC. The CJQ cannot be submitted online because it must go with you to the courthouse, not to the OJC. The courthouse personnel will destroy your CJQ as soon as it is no longer needed (generally at the end of your day of service, unless you are impaneled on a jury. In that case, you CJQ will be retained by the Clerk’s Office in a secure location until all appeal periods have run out).
You should also bring reading material, work, or something to occupy your time when you are not participating in an impanelment. You may wish to call the courthouse to find out whether cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices are permitted at the court to which you have been summoned - the courts set their own rules on these matters. You should bring money for parking, snacks, and lunch, and you may wish to bring a bottle of water, cup of coffee, or other beverage. You cannot bring your children or pets with you to the courthouse. You cannot bring any weapons into the courthouse.
If you have special needs that require you to bring needles, service animals, or other medical supplies to the courthouse, please contact the OJC’s ADA Coordinator at 1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879) or firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can ensure that your needs are met on your day of service.
What will my day of jury service be like?
You’ll arrive at the courthouse and go through security. Once in the jury pool room, you’ll check in using your Reminder Notice or Summons and provide the jury pool officer with your completed Confidential Juror Questionnaire. You’ll be seated while the other jurors are checked in. The Court Officer will give you general information about lunch breaks, restrooms, and perhaps what is going on in the courthouse that day, and you will also be greeted by a judge. You will watch a brief orientation video about the trial process and performing your duty as a juror.
At this point, depending on the needs of the court, you could be brought to a courtroom for impanelment. Otherwise, you may remain in the jury pool room for some period of time. Be sure to bring a book, magazines, paperwork, or something else to occupy your time. You may be sent to more than one impanelment over the course of the day, or you may not be called at all, depending on how that day’s cases develop. In any event, the judges and courthouse personnel are aware that you are serving and will make every effort to dismiss you as early in the day as possible.
How long will I serve for?
Massachusetts was the first in the country to adopt the One Day or One Trial system statewide. This means that you will serve for one day or, if impaneled, for the duration of one trial. Most (but not all) jurors finish their service in one to three days. Whatever your length of service, you are not obligated to serve again for another three years.
Will I be able to get food or beverages?
While the court does not provide food or beverages, many courthouses have vending machines or a snack bar available to jurors. The jury pool officer will give you information about options for your lunch break, and you may also have the opportunity to take a coffee break if you are not sent to an impanelment right away.
Am I allowed to bring my cell phone or laptop into the courthouse?
While most courts allow laptops and cell phones, not all courts do. If you wish to bring these or other electronic devices, you should call the courthouse or the court’s Juror Line for further information. In no event will you be allowed to have your cell phone on while in a courtroom.
If there is an emergency at home, how will my family contact me?
Family members can call the court in the event of an emergency, and you will be notified immediately. Before you go, be sure to let the court officer know if you must leave the courthouse.
What happens at jury selection? What is a "challenge"?
When you are brought to impanelment, the judge will tell you a bit about the type of case and introduce the parties and their attorneys. Everyone will be asked to respond to a short series of questions, and anyone who has an issue that might prevent them from serving on the jury will have an opportunity to speak with the judge. In some cases, the judge, attorneys, or self-represented litigants may ask additional questions.
Jurors will then be selected to sit in the jury box, and the parties will have the opportunity to exercise “challenges.” Either party can ask that a juror be excused for a specific reason (such as a personal connection to one of the parties), and each party is permitted to ask that a few jurors be excused without giving any reason at all. The judge will decide whether to excuse each challenged juror. Once the necessary number of people have been seated on the jury – generally 6-7 in District, Housing and Juvenile Court and 12-14 in Superior and Housing Court – and the parties are satisfied with the jury, the trial will begin.
Potential jurors who are not selected at one impanelment may be sent to another impanelment. Once all of the cases that need jurors that day have been impaneled, those who were not selected will be excused for the day.
Will I be sequestered during a trial?
Sequestration has occurred only rarely in Massachusetts. Instead, once you are impaneled you will be instructed by the judge to avoid news reports in the newspaper, television, or radio; doing research on the case, on the internet or otherwise; and sharing information about the case with anyone, in person or using social media. Failure to abide by these instructions could result in a mistrial.
When can I leave the courthouse?
The jury pool officer and the others at the court will make every effort to release you for the day as soon as possible, but generally no later than 4:30 p.m. (unless you are participating in an on-going impanelment at that time). It is very important that you not leave the courthouse until instructed to do so by the court officer (or in rare cases, a judge). Unless otherwise instructed, you should return to the jury pool room if you are excused from an impanelment – you may be sent to another case, or the jury pool officer may have further instructions for you. If you leave without being excused from service, you will receive a Failure to Appear Notice and you may not get credit for serving, meaning you will have to schedule another day to serve within the next few weeks.