Jurors' FAQs

How was my name selected? (back to Top)
Your name was randomly selected from the certified list of registered voters or drivers licenses obtained by the court from the State of Iowa, and you completed and returned to the court a Juror Qualification Questionnaire which indicated that in accordance with court rules and federal statutes you qualified to serve as a juror.

What are the qualifications to serve as a juror? (back to Top)
To see if you are qualified to serve as a juror, check the Qualifications & Exemptions Information.

Why should I serve as a juror? (back to Top)
Anyone who is involved in a civil dispute or accused of a crime has a constitutional right to have a jury decide their case. As a juror, you fulfill a civic obligation and help make important decisions affecting people’s lives and issues that concern your community. Jurors who have previously served have expressed how interesting and important their experience was and their willingness to serve again in the future.

How long does jury selection take? (back to Top)
Jury selection time varies. Generally, if jury selection starts at 8:00 am you should know by noon whether you are selected to serve or not. This may vary depending on the complexity of the case.

What happens during the jury selection process? (back to Top)
Once you are seated in the courtroom, the judge will inform you about the case, then introduce the lawyers and others who are involved. You will also take an oath, in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully.

After you are sworn in, you will begin a questioning process called voir dire, which means “to speak the truth.” During this process, the judge and the lawyers will question you and other members of the panel to find out if you have any knowledge about the case, any personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard for you to be impartial. Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. If you are uncomfortable answering them, tell the judge and he/she may ask them privately.

Remember: Questions are not asked to embarrass you. They are intended to make sure members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences which might prevent them from making an impartial decision.

How many people are selected for jury service? (back to Top)
The number of jurors that are selected depends on what type of case it is. For a civil trial, six to eight jurors may be selected. For a criminal trial, twelve to fourteen may be selected.

Will I be called again for jury service? (back to Top)
If you appear for jury service and are not selected, the chance of being called again during your term of service is possible and you may be called to appear more than once. The court makes every effort to minimize numerous appearances and tries to utilize your time properly. Once your term of service is over or you have served on a trial, you will not be called for jury service in the Federal Court for 2 years.

I have already served or have been called for service in the state court. Do I have to serve in the federal court too? (back to Top)
Yes. State and federal courts operate separately from one another, so your service in one court does not satisfy your obligation to the other. However, if you are called to appear on the same date, you must then appear for federal court jury and notify the state court of this conflict.

What if I am called for Grand Jury? (back to Top)
The grand jury is different from the trial jury (also know as the petit jury). The terms and purposes of service are different. People called for grand jury duty should contact the court with specific questions. You may call (319) 286-2314 to speak with the jury administrator.

What happens if I do not report for jury duty? (back to Top)
Any juror who fails to report for jury duty may be served with an Order to Show Cause by the U.S. Marshals Service. Jurors who fail to show adequate cause for their absence from jury duty can be held in contempt of court under the Jury Selection Act, 28 U.S.C. 1866(g). Penalties range from a fine of $100 to three days in jail, or both.

When should I report for jury service? (back to Top)
Sometime after you have filled out and returned your Juror Qualification Questionnaire, you may receive a packet of information which consists of a Juror Summons/Questionnaire. Please complete this form and return it within TEN DAYS. You will also be informed of the date that your “on call” status begins. The length of your “on call” status may either be for 3 or 6 months, depending on where you live. Click here to find out where to report and the length of your term of service.

You will not be required to appear the first day of your term, nor do you need to call. If you are needed for service, you will receive a “Notice to Appear” letter approximately two weeks prior to the date you are to appear. Once you have received this letter, you may call our automated Juror Information Service at (712) 233-8912 to verify your current reporting status. You will need your nine-digit participant number, which is located above your name on your summons and in the body of your “Notice to Appear” letter.

The night before your scheduled appearance date, please call
(319) 286-2302 to see whether or not you need to appear.

Why must I call or check online the night before I appear for jury duty? (back to Top)
The Court’s schedule may change at the last minute or a trial may be settled or rescheduled. To insure that the Court utilizes your time properly, we ask that you call or check online for the status of the case (link to case status page) after 6:00 p.m. the night before the scheduled date you are to appear. If your trial has been cancelled, you do not need to call or appear. You will receive written notice of your next appearance date.

What if I need special accommodations? (back to Top)
If you need special accommodations such as assistance with a wheelchair, hearing devices, or special seating, please contact the Jury Administrator once you have received your summons to appear. The courthouse is handicapped accessible. If certain accommodations can not be met, however, you may submit a written request to be excused.

How do I get to the courthouse and where should I park? (back to Top)
For directions to the courthouse and parking information, please check Where to Find Us and Parking Information. Bring plenty of change for ramp parking or metered parking.

What if I do not have any transportation? (back to Top)
You are responsible for providing your own transportation to the Courthouse. If you cannot drive yourself, you should arrange to take a bus or taxi, or arrange to have someone drive you. You may call the jury office to see if car-pool arrangements can be made. Jurors reporting in Cedar Rapids should call (319) 286-2314. Jurors reporting to Sioux City should call (712) 233-3936. If we can not assist you with transportation, you may submit a written request to be excused for the court to review.

How long is a typical jury day and will breaks be provided? (back to Top)
A normal jury day will begin between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. and will end between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Once the jury is in deliberation, however, the times may vary.

Yes. Breaks will be provided. Generally, there will be a mid-morning break. There will also be a break for lunch and usually an afternoon break.

Can a family member or friend be present with me in the court? (back to Top)
If you are accompanied by a family member or friend, they may sit with you until you are called to the courtroom for jury selection. During the jury selection process, they may sit in the back of the courtroom. However, once you return to the jury room, from this point on they may not accompany you. Please remember that when you are adjourned for lunch or for the day, you must follow the Judge’s instructions about discussing the trial with friends or family members.

Can I bring my children with me? (back to Top)
Please do not bring children to the courthouse. Child care is not provided.

Are cellphones allowed in the courthouse? (back to Top)
No, cellphones are NOT allowed in the courthouse.

What happens if I am late for Jury Service? (back to Top)
It is very important that you arrive on time. If you are unavoidably delayed, please call the jury office immediately. Jurors reporting in Cedar Rapids should call (319) 286-2314. Jurors reporting to Sioux City should call (712) 233-3936. The trial cannot begin until all jurors are present.

What should I do if I am sick or have an emergency the day that I am supposed to report? (back to Top)
If a real emergency occurs such as a sudden illness, accident, or death in the family - please contact the jury office immediately. Jurors reporting in Cedar Rapids should call (319) 286-2314. Jurors reporting to Sioux City should call (712) 233-3936. You will be asked to submit in writing a letter explaining why you were unable to appear for jury service for the court to review. If necessary, further documentation may be requested.

What if the weather is bad? (back to Top)
Instructions for what to do during inclement weather can be found by clicking here.

What should I bring with me to the court? (back to Top)
A PICTURE ID may be required to enter the Courthouse. You may also bring your books, magazines, and study material, however, these items must be put away during Court proceedings. Cell phones, laptops, and beepers are not permitted in the building. Court Security officers will screen for such equipment through the magnetometer prior to entering the building.
Please Note: CELL PHONES or PDA's with VIDEO/PHOTO CAPABILITIES ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THE U.S. COURTHOUSE. You will not be allowed to enter the building if you have one with you. You will have to take it back to your car.

How long does the trial last? (back to Top)
The length of each trial depends on the complexity of the case. Generally, trials last between 3 and 4 days. The judge will inform you the morning of jury selection as to how long the trial will last. Please inform the judge of any serious hardships at this time. The jury trial may begin immediately after jury selection so please plan accordingly.
Is there a dress code? (back to Top)
Your responsibilities as a juror are of utmost importance and your attire is indicative of that importance and the seriousness you attach to your duties. Therefore, you should wear comfortable but appropriate, business-like clothing. Shorts, jeans, t-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts should not be worn.

Will I be “sequestered” and have to stay overnight? (back to Top)
Occasionally a trial will extend past 5:00 p.m. in order, for example, to complete a line of testimony. Sequestration, the need to stay overnight, is extremely rare in the federal court. This should not be a concern.

Will I be paid for jury service? (back to Top)
Yes. Currently it is $40 per day for jury service. If applicable, you will also be reimbursed for mileage, parking, and per diem.

What if my boss does not want me to serve? (back to Top)
In accordance with Title 28, United States Code, Section 1875, “no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, in any court of the United States.” If the employer violates this law, he/she may be subject to a fine of not more than $1000.00 for each violation and shall be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by an employee. Jury service is a citizen’s obligation and the employer has to provide the employee with the time to serve.

Is my employer obligated to pay regular salary during jury service? (back to Top)
Prior to reporting, please check with your employer regarding their jury duty policy. Such policies are entirely discretionary with employers; employers are not specifically obligated to continue jurors’ regular pay during jury service.

Where can I get proof of my service to give to my employer? (back to Top)
If you are not selected as a juror, you may go to the Clerk’s Office located on the third floor and ask for a Certificate of Attendance. If you are selected for service, you will receive a certificate at the end of your service.

What if I have a medical condition that would keep me from serving as a juror? (back to Top)
At this stage, you may be excused from jury service for a medical condition if you submit a current doctor’s statement stating that you are unable to serve. You may wish to wait to see if you are summoned and provide a doctor’s statement at that time.

What if I am over 70 years of age? (back to Top)
You may be excused from jury service if you are over 70 years of age and do not wish to serve.

What if I have scheduled appointments or vacations? (back to Top)
You do not need to provide that information at this time. If you are summoned to appear, you will be instructed to inform the court of any dates you will be unavailable during your term of service. The court will honor any reasonable requests.

What if I have received a questionnaire for a person who no longer lives at this mailing address? (back to Top)
If you can provide a current address, please scratch out the old address, put the new address beside it, and send it back to us. If you do not know the person or do not have a forwarding address, please write “return to sender” on it and send it back to us.

What if I do not have a return addressed envelope? (back to Top)
You may return it to the court by mail and address it to:

111 Seventh Ave SE, Box 12
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401-2101

What if the person is deceased? (back to Top)
Please write deceased on the questionnaire and send it back to us.

What if the person is a student? (back to Top)
If the person is a student in or out of state and they still have a permanent address in the Northern District of Iowa, they are still qualified to serve at this stage. The student may complete the questionnaire or a parent may complete the form for them, sign it and send it back to us.

What if I no longer live in the Northern District of Iowa? (back to Top)
Please write your new address on the form and send it back to us. We will remove you from our list of potential jurors.

What if I cannot return the questionnaire within 10 days? (back to Top)
The court understands if you are out of town or have other circumstances that may slow your response time. We ask that you return the questionnaire at the soonest date possible.

Who should I contact if I have more questions? (back to Top)
Please call the jury office at (319) 286-2314 and we will assist you