- How are people chosen for jury duty?
- How often do I have to serve?
- I have been summoned several times, why so many?
- Can I volunteer for juror service?
- What is the difference between a Trial Juror and a Grand Juror?
- I'm not registered to vote. How did I get summoned for jury duty?
- What happens if I miss my jury service?
- Why did I receive a summons when I already served less than three years ago?
- How do I contact the Office of Jury Commissioner?
How are people chosen for jury duty?
Each year, the cities and towns in Massachusetts provide the Office of Jury Commissioner (OJC) with a list of everyone residing in the town who is seventeen years of age or older. Master juror lists of are created from these lists to be used the following year, and eligible residents are chosen randomly by computer to receive a jury duty summons.
How often do I have to serve?
If you are summoned for jury duty and you go to the courthouse to serve, you are disqualified from serving for three years. Jury service means going to court and being available to be impaneled if necessary – you do not actually have to sit on a jury to receive credit for performing your jury service. However, if you are summoned and then your service is cancelled before you must appear at the courthouse, you have not “served,” so are not disqualified and you may be summoned again the next year.
I have been summoned several times, but others I know have never been summoned. Why aren’t they summoned before I’m summoned again?
Those who receive summonses are selected at random from the pool of all of those who are eligible. “Random selection” means that everyone who is eligible to serve must have the same chance of being summoned as anyone else, even if they have served before. It’s like flipping a coin and getting “heads” three times in a row – on each coin flip, you have an equal chance of getting heads or tails, regardless of what happened on the last coin flip.
I want to serve, but I haven’t been summoned. Can I volunteer?
No. The law requires that jurors be summoned at random, without outside manipulation or interference. Adding someone to the summons list would constitute interference just as much as removing someone from the summons list, and would be punishable as the crime of jury tampering. Mass. Gen. Laws c.234A, § 71.
What is the difference between a Trial Juror and a Grand Juror?
Trial jurors sit on criminal or civil trials, hear evidence and testimony, and return a verdict. Grand Jurors sit for a longer period of time and consider evidence presented by the Commonwealth on a variety of criminal matters, to determine if the evidence is sufficient to charge a person with a crime (an “indictment”).
I'm not registered to vote. How did I get summoned for jury duty?
Many people mistakenly assume that the Office of Jury Commissioner obtains its list of potential jurors from voting lists, or driver’s registration lists. However, these lists are not as complete as the resident lists – not everyone is registered to vote, or drives a car. In order to guarantee everyone their constitutional right to participate in the jury system, the Office of Jury Commissioner uses resident lists provided by the Commonwealth’s cities and towns to summon jurors. This is why Massachusetts is thought to have one of the best jury lists in the country.
What happens if I miss my jury service?
If you miss your juror service for any reason, you should contact the Office of Jury Commissioner at 1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879) to reschedule your date. Failure to reschedule your jury service can result in Delinquency , which can lead to the issuance of a criminal complaint, an arrest warrant, and/or a fine of up to $2,000 under Mass. Gen. Laws c.234A , § 42.
Why did I receive a summons when I already served less than three years ago?
You might have moved since your last service, or there may be a difference in the way your name or address is submitted to the OJC by your city or town. For example, “John Doe” in “Apt. 1” may be submitted as “J. Doe” at “#1” the next year. Unless the name and address are identical, the computer system will err on the side of caution and assume that differing names or addresses represent different jurors. Just contact the OJC online at firstname.lastname@example.org, using your Juror Confirmation Form, or by phone. Provide us with the details of your recent prior service, and you will be disqualified.
How do I contact the Office of Jury Commissioner?
If you are calling from Massachusetts, you can reach us at 1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879). If you are out of state, or using a cell phone with an out-of-state area code, please send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
You can also write to us at:
Office of Jury Commissioner
560 Harrison Avenue, Suite 600
Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2447