Essex County Probate & Family Court - Salem

Grand Jurors sit with 22 other jurors for a term of several months to consider evidence presented by the prosecutor. 

  • Grand Jurors do not serve on a trial, like Trial Jurors. Rather, they evaluate evidence presented by the prosecutor and decide if it is sufficient to indict (bring a criminal charge against) a person or corporation. 
  • The grand jury does not decide the guilt or innocence of the accused. It decides if there is probable cause to bring the accused to trial. 
  • The grand jury’s work is a pre-trial function of the court.

Who serves on jury duty?

To serve as a Massachusetts juror you must... 

  • be a citizen of the United States;
  • be over 18 years of age;
  • live in Massachusetts for more than 50% of the year (therefore, most college students are eligible for jury service in Massachusetts, even if they are legal residents of another state); and
  • speak and understand English sufficiently well to be able to participate in the trial.

How long will I serve?

  • By law, each grand jury is impaneled for a term of three months. However, the amount of time the grand juror actually must be at the courthouse varies greatly between judicial districts. 
  • Some grand juries meet for only a few days during their term of service, while others meet almost every business day for at least a few hours.
  • Before you are impaneled, the judge will tell you how the grand jury operates in the judicial district to which you have been summoned. 
  • You will always have an opportunity to speak to the judge and explain your circumstances before being impaneled on a grand jury.
Image of the Suffolk Grand Jury Room Sign

Where will I serve?

  • Each person called to jury duty receives a summons to serve in the “judicial district” (usually the county) where he or she lives. 
  • The grand jury is always assigned to the same courthouse in each judicial district, so you cannot transfer your grand jury service to another location within the judicial district.
  • All summoned jurors are randomly selected by computer. This helps to ensure that the grand jury is an accurate representation of the population of the entire judicial district.

Can I switch from Grand Jury service to Trial Jury service?

  • Only a judge has the authority to order a person summoned to grand jury service to serve as a trial juror instead. 
  • You should report to your grand jury service and speak to the judge if grand jury service would impose a hardship on you.
  • If reporting to the courthouse is an extreme hardship for you (e.g., you have no car, public transportation, or ride to get you to the courthouse), contact the OJC for assistance at 1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879).

Will I be paid?

For The First Three Days: 

  • By law, a juror’s employer is required to compensate the juror for the first three days of jury service. 
  • Self-employed jurors are expected to compensate themselves for the first three days, and jurors who are not employed are not compensated until the fourth day of service.

From The Fourth Day Onward: 

  • From the fourth day on, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will pay $50 per day to all sitting jurors. 
  • Some employers choose to compensate their employees for part or all of their jury service, beyond the three days required by law. These employers may or may not permit the juror to retain the $50 per day paid by the Commonwealth. 

Confidential Financial Questionnaire: 

  • Grand Jurors are required to complete a Confidential Financial Questionnaire if selected. 
  • In order to complete this form you must determine your employer’s compensation policy prior to appearing for service.  
  • For a more detailed explanation of the Confidential Financial Questionnaire and these compensation issues, please click here.


Office of Jury Commissioner for the Commonwealth
560 Harrison Avenue - Suite 600, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2447
1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879)