Be careful what information you reveal over the phone. Identity thieves
in other parts of the country have called residents and threatened them for failing
to report for jury service. The thieves then asked for confidential information.
I will NEVER call you and ask for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or
other sensitive information. Do not give out such information over the phone to
anyone who calls you claiming to be with the judicial system. I will on occasion
call (such as when Hurricane Dennis hit) and let jurors know that court has been
cancelled for the day. This saves jurors an unnecessary trip to the courthouse.
For more information, go to the article in the Bloomberg news located here:
Latest ID theft scheme uses the courts - Bloomberg news
Sequence of Events
Legal and Judicial Terms
To qualify for jury service, a person generally must have a reputation for being
honest and intelligent, must possess good character and sound judgment, and also
- Be a United States citizen.
- Be over 19 years of age.
- Be a 12-month resident of the county.
- Read, speak, and understand the English language.
- Be physically and mentally capable.
- Not have been convicted of a crime involving "moral turpitude" (a crime which violates
accepted standards of the community, including crimes involving dishonesty) which
resulted in the suspension of a person's right to vote.
Most cases are only 1 to 5 days in length. Rarely do we have a case which exceeds
5 days. Should we have a case which the court anticipates lasting more than a week,
jurors will be notified on Monday. If you have a problem serving more than a week
you can, at that time, request a postponement from the Judge. Normal hours are Monday
through Friday between the hours of 8 A.M. - 5 P.M.. The Court breaks at mid-day
for lunch and there are breaks taken in the morning and afternoon.
By law (§ 12-16-62. No exemptions from jury service. No qualified prospective
juror is exempt from jury service. [Acts 1978, No. 594, p. 712 § 8.]) no one is
exempt from jury duty, but if this week presents an undue hardship or extreme inconvenience
you may call Jennifer Nalu at (205) 669-3781 for a postponement to a later
You will need to get in touch with your doctor and get a doctor's excuse stating
you are not either physically or mentally able to serve as a juror. Attach it to
your juror summons and mail back to the Clerk's Office. It must be received in our
office prior to your reporting date. (Please Note: This will not excuse you
permanently from jury duty. Should you receive another summons in the future and
you are still having medical problems, you would need to get another doctor's excuse.)
There is no such thing as a list of people who are permanently excused from jury
Your name was randomly selected by computer from a list of Shelby County citizens
who have either a driver's license or state ID card. The notices are mailed from
Montgomery and the Clerk receives a list from the Administrative Office of Courts
in Montgomery. The Clerk does not have anything to do with the selection
You will need to call Jennifer Nalu at (205) 669-3781 and give her your updated
address and phone number to be taken off of the list for that week. (Please Note:
Until your name is taken off of the Shelby County driver's license list at the Department
of Public Safety your name is subject to be selected again in the future.)
The Shelby County Courthouse is located at 112 North Main Street, Columbiana, Alabama.
Your summons will indicate which courtroom you are assigned to. No smoking is allowed
inside the building and no weapons of any kind will be allowed. Please be on time
as court starts promptly at the designated time. Please allow extra time for parking
and going through the metal detector. One late juror can waste the time of many
persons involved in a trial.
Parking is available behind the courthouse. We also have a new parking lot located
across the street on the south side of the courthouse. There is no charge for parking.
Wear comfortable clothing that reflects the seriousness of jury service.
On occasion there will be times you will be required to wait while the Judge takes
up an issue which must be heard outside of the jury's presence. We try to keep these
to a minimum, however, these are often circumstances beyond the Court's control.
We recommend that you bring reading materials, knitting, crossword puzzles, etc.
to occupy you while you wait. Please take your personal belongings with you during
lunch, break, etc. as we will not be responsible for their loss.
For your convenience, we have a Juror Call-in system. During juror orientation you
will be assigned to a juror panel and given a card with a phone number. You will
call each night after 6:00 P.M.. You will get a recording which gives you your status
for the next day. If you are told your services are not needed for that day, you
will need to report for work. You will not be paid as a juror for the days we do
not require your presence.
You may bring your phone and pager in the courtroom, but they must be turned on
vibrate. You may return your phone calls on break. Should your family have an emergency
you can be reached by calling the Clerk's Office at (205) 669-3760 and pressing
"0" for the operator. You will be located and your message relayed. As of 8/12/08
all cellular phones, including camera phones, shall be allowed into the Shelby County
Courthouse per order of Presiding Judge J. Michael Joiner.
The pay rate as mandated by law is $10.00 per day and $.05 per mile for each day's
round trip mileage (Please Note: the state only allows for one trip to the courthouse
and the trip home each day.)
Your employer is required by law (*Per Section 12-16-8(c) Code of Alabama) to pay
you your normal salary if you are a full-time employee or work a full-time schedule
on a regular basis. Employers are not required to pay part-time employees their
normal salary by law. (Please Note: Your employer is only required to pay you a
40 hour work week's pay, no overtime pay even if you normally work overtime.) Employers
are prohibited by law (§
12-16-8.1) from firing an employee for serving as a juror.
*Section 12-16-8(c) Code of Alabama: "Notwithstanding the excused absence provided
in subsection (a), any full time employee shall be entitled to his or her usual
compensation received from such employment."
No. The attorney general has ruled in
Opinion 90-00190 that juror pay received while serving is an expense allowance
and should not be deducted from your normal salary.
No. The attorney general has ruled in
Opinion 95-00007 and
Opinion 97-0138 that any second or third shift employee is placed on
first shift status by law for their week of jury duty service. Your employer cannot
make you work and is required to pay you first shift wages if you are full-time.
(This includes the evening after jury service is concluded.)
Yes. As a summoned juror, you are entitled to an expense and mileage allowance regardless
of whether you actually served on a jury that particular day. However, you are not
authorized to receive an expense and mileage allowance if you are notified in advance
that your services are not needed for that day or if you report only to be excused.
Not necessarily. Alabama law does not govern employers of other states. If you wish
to inquire as to whether you can be compensated for Alabama jury service, you must
consult the law of the state in which you are employed.
Note: The Attorney General in Georgia has concluded that it is unlawful for
an employee in Georgia to fire an employee working in Georgia because the employee
was absent from his/her employment for the purpose of serving as a juror in Alabama.
For example, if a person is summoned for jury duty in Alabama, the person's employer
in Georgia cannot fire the person for being absent for serving as a juror. To do
so would subject the employer to civil liability.
Yes. After the budget cuts to the court system in October 2003, I initiated a plan whereby a juror may waive their juror
fees. This money is returned to the State General Fund. Notify Jennifer Nalu if
you wish to waive your fees.
You will be inprocessed and given a brief orientation. The judge will ask general
questions to determine whether you are qualified to serve as a juror. After qualification,
you will be sworn in with the following juror's oath:
"You do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will well and truly try all issues which
may be submitted to you during the present session and true verdicts render according
to the evidence, so help you God."
After the trial's completion, you are not obligated to answer questions presented
by attorneys or the press. If unwanted questions persist, contact the court immediately.
A Civil case is an action between parties seeking an impartial settlement
of a dispute. The "plaintiff" sues and brings the case to court, usually asking
for money damages to compensate the plaintiff for certain loses. These are called
"compensatory damages." Sometimes the plaintiff may ask for damages in addition
to the compensatory damages, in order to punish the defendant and to prevent the
defendant from doing the same act again. These are called "punitive damages." The
"defendant" is the party being sued.
A criminal case is an action brought by the state against a person or corporation
charged with violating the law. In criminal cases, the state is the prosecutor,
while the defendant is the person charged with committing the crime. In most criminal
cases on which you may be asked to serve, the crime with which the defendant is
charged will be a "felony." A felony is a crime punishable by at least one year
and one day in the penitentiary and may also include a fine of $5,000 or more. Sometimes,
a jury will be demanded by a defendant in a misdemeanor case. A misdemeanor is a
crime punishable by up to one year in the county jail or a fine of $2,000 or both.
A petit jury is generally composed of 12 people impaneled to try a criminal
or civil case. In a criminal trial, the jury must determine whether the state has
presented proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. In a civil
trial, the jury decides all questions of fact and determines whether the plaintiff
has a valid complaint and should be awarded the relief requested.
An 18 member grand jury may be impaneled to hear evidence and to determine
whether there is sufficient evidence to formally charge the defendant with committing
a crime and to require an accused to stand trial. The grand jury does not determine
the accused's guilt or innocence.
A prospective juror is asked questions to determine whether he/she has knowledge
of or has an interest in the case to be tried. The questioning of a prospective
juror is called a "voir dire examination" and may be conducted by the judge and
attorneys. Upon completion of a voir dire examination, each attorney may strike
the names of jurors from the list of prospective jurors until only 12 names remain.
The court may require alternate jurors to serve who shall have the same qualifications,
be subject to the same examination, take the same oath, and have the same functions
and powers as regular jurors. Being struck does not reflect on a juror's honesty
or intelligence. There are many reasons why an attorney might prefer some jurors
to others for a particular trial.
A circuit judge randomly selects the grand jury from the qualified juror pool. The
grand jury may be summoned to serve one term or several short terms.
Per Section 12-16-82 Code of Alabama: "If any person summoned as a grand or petit
juror shall fail to obey such summons without good excuse, to be determined by the
court, he or she shall be deemed guilty of a contempt of court; and, if no sufficient
excuse is rendered for him or her at the time of his or her default, an order shall
be entered for him or her to show cause why he or she shall not be adjudged guilty
of contempt and punished accordingly; and, if he shall fail at the next session
after the service of such notice to render such excuse, he or she shall be fined
by the court not more than three hundred dollars ($300) and may be imprisoned in
the county jail for not more than 10 days. In courts holding sessions longer than
30 days, the order shall be made returnable 20 days after it issues, and the person
in default shall have 10 days after service in which to appear and render his excuse."
Per Section 12-16-8(b) Code of Alabama: "An employee may not be required or requested
to use annual, vacation, unpaid leave, or sick leave for time spent responding to
a summons for jury duty, time spent participating in the jury selection process,
or for time spent actually serving on a jury. Nothing in this subsection shall be
construed to require an employer to provide annual, vacation, or sick leave to employees
who otherwise are not entitled to the benefits under policies of the employer."
Jurors are randomly selected by computer and the summons are mailed from Montgomery.
Per Section 12-16-75(b) Code of Alabama: "A juror who has served on a petit jury
in this state shall not be summoned to serve again as a petit juror in any court
of this state for 24 months following the last day of service."
If you receive a jury summons and it has been less than 2 years since you last served,
give us a call and we will check our records to verify your previous date. If it
has been less than 2 years, you will be excused from that term.
A jury trial involves many people, directly or indirectly. The judge, attorneys,
parties, witnesses, and jurors are all direct participants in the courtroom proceedings.
The following is a description of their roles:
- The judge is an elected official who administers proceedings between the
parties. The judge conducts the trial, rules on questions of law raised by the attorneys,
and, at the close of the trial, instructs the jury on the law that applies to the
- Attorneys represent and advise the parties on the law and all aspects of
the trial. They are employed by the parties or, if a defendant is indigent and unable
to pay for an attorney in his/her criminal case, an attorney will be appointed by
the court at state expense. The court, however, can require the defendant to reimburse
the state for these costs, if he/she is able.
- The district attorney is an elected official who is the prosecutor for the
state in criminal cases and represents a victim of crime.
- The parties in a civil trial are the plaintiff and the defendant; in a criminal
trial, they are the state, represented by the district attorney or prosecutor, and
- Witnesses present testimony under oath regarding what they have seen or know
about the facts in the case. A witness may testify as an expert based on professional
- Usually, others indirectly involved provide essential services but are not active
- The circuit clerk is the court's business manager. This elected official
is responsible for court records, issuing summonses and subpoenas, collecting court-ordered
monies, and conducting other business activities.
- The sheriff, as an elected official, is the county's chief law enforcement
officer. The sheriff serves summonses on witnesses, jurors, and defendants and provides
- The court reporter records a word-for-word account of all court testimony
and proceedings and, in the event of an appeal and upon request of one or both parties,
will transcribe the record into a written transcript.
- The bailiff maintains court order and assists jurors, under the direct supervision
of the Presiding Circuit Judge.
- Opening Statements
or State's Case
- Closing Arguments
- Judge's Charge
to the Jury
- Jury Deliberations
The opening statements are made at the beginning of
the trial and outline the facts expected to be presented to the jury. Opening statements
are not evidence but are only explanations of what each side expects the evidence
After the opening statements from both sides, the
plaintiff's or state's case is presented in the form of evidence.
This presentation is intended to prove the claims made. Evidence can be testimony
given by a witness at trial or a physical exhibit such as a gun or photograph. The
presentation of the case begins with the plaintiff's or the district attorney's
direct examination of a witness. Direct examination discloses points important to
the case. Next, the defendant's attorney may cross-examine the witness to disclose
facts favoring the defendant; the defendant's attorney may demonstrate there is
a reason to doubt the testimony given by the witness on direct examination. Upon
completion of cross-examination, the plaintiff's attorney or district attorney may,
on redirect examination, clarify statements previously made by the witness.
The defendant's case is presented after the plaintiff's
or state's case. The defendant's case presentation follows the same format as the
plaintiff's or state's case.
After the defendant's case, the plaintiff or state may present
rebuttal witnesses or evidence designed to disprove the testimony and evidence
presented by the defendant.
Closing arguments follow evidence presentation, at
which both sides summarize the case from their viewpoint. Closing arguments are
not evidence but are the attorney's summaries of the evidence presented during the
The judge's charge to the jury follows closing arguments.
The charge instructs the jury on the issues to be decided and the rules of law that
apply to the case.
After listening to the judge's oral charge, the jury retires
to begin jury deliberations. Selection of a foreman is the jury's first duty.
This person presides over the discussion of the case, acting as chairman and spokesman
for the jury.
Jury deliberations generally conclude when a unanimous verdict
has been reached. If the jury is unable to agree upon a verdict after lengthy deliberations,
the foreman must notify the judge. If the jury cannot reach a verdict, referred
to as "deadlock," a mistrial must be declared and a new jury impaneled to try the
After reaching a verdict, the foreman records the verdict and calls for the bailiff
to escort the jury to the courtroom. The verdict is read by the judge, circuit clerk,
- answer - the defendant's response to allegations in the civil complaint or
- civil case - a case that is not criminal in nature, but one that pertains
to the settlement of disputes between individuals, i.e., a suit seeking the recovery
of damages incurred from an automobile accident, breach of contract action, divorce
- circuit court - a trial court of general jurisdiction hearing all civil matters
where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000 and all criminal prosecutions involving
felony offenses, as well as misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations arising
out of felonies. The district court also has original jurisdiction concurrent with
the circuit court in matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $1,500 but
does not exceed $10,000, and in taking non-capital felony guilty pleas before an
indictment is returned.
- closing argument - a summary of the evidence presented to the jury by the
attorneys on both sides of a case.
- complaint(civil) - statements by the plaintiff stating the claims he/she
has against the defendant.
- complaint(criminal) - a formal statement charging an individual with a criminal
- cross-examination - questioning of a witness by the opposing side.
- deadlock - a term used to refer to when a jury cannot reach a verdict, resulting
in a mistrial.
- deposition - testimony taken under oath and outside the courtroom.
- direct examination - the first questioning of a witness by the party on whose
behalf he/she is called.
- district court - a trial court of limited jurisdiction hearing all civil
matters where the amount in controversy does not exceed $1,500 and all criminal
prosecutions of misdemeanors, unless the misdemeanors arise out of felony charges
or have had an indictment returned. District courts also have concurrent jurisdiction
with the circuit court in matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $1,500
but does not exceed $10,000, and in taking non-capital felony guilty pleas before
an indictment is returned. District courts also have original jurisdiction to hold
preliminary hearings in felony prosecutions.
- evidence - any legally presented proof which may be established by witness,
testimony, documents, etc.
- exhibit - a paper, document, or other object used as evidence during a trial
- felony - a serious criminal offense punishable by at least one year and one
day in the penitentiary and may also include a fine of $5,000 or more.
- indictment - a grand jury's written accusation charging a person or business
with committing a crime.
- information - a written statement charging a defendant with the commission
of an indictable offense, made under oath, signed and presented to the court by
the district attorney without action by the grand jury.
- misdemeanor - a less serious criminal offense punishable by up to one year
in the county jail or a fine of $2,000 or both.
- mistrial - an erroneous or invalid trial declared defective and void because
of predjudicial error in the proceedings or inability of the jury to reach a verdict.
- moral turpitude crime - an offense consisting of a base or vile act or the
depravation in private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man or to
society in general. It is essentially an act or behaviour which violates the accepted
moral standards of the community.
- oath - a written or oral pledge to speak the truth.
- objection - a statement by an attorney opposing specific testimony or admission
- opening statement - outline of anticipated proof presented to the jury by
the attorney's at the trial's beginning.
- overrule - court's denial of a motion or objection raised to the court; when
a court overrules an objection to evidence(for example, testimony), the jury may
properly consider it.
- probable cause - a reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed;
the basis for all lawful searches and arrests.
- prosecution - act of pursuing a lawsuit or criminal trial; the prosecution
in a criminal case is brought by the state through the district attorney.
- rebuttal - the introduction of rebutting evidence to discredit statements
of opposing witnesses.
- redirect examination - follows cross-examination and is exercised by the
party who first examined the witness.
- restitution - a full or partial payment of money damages to a victim or its
equivalent in services performed or work or labor done for the victim's benefit
as determined by a judge.
- "the rule" - (also known as "invoking the rule") a request made by a party
to a case asking the judge to rule that material witnesses who are to give testimony
must stay out of the courtroom during the proceedings until they are brought into
the courtroom to testify. This rule is invoked so that the witnesses will not be
able to hear what has been said in the trial to ensure that they will give unbiased
- striking a jury - a process of selecting a trial jury where attorney's "strike"
or excuse jurors until the number required remains.
- sustain - court's acceptance of any motion or objection; when a court sustains
an objection to evidence(for example, testimony), the jury may not consider it.
If there are other terms or phrases which you hear while serving as a juror that
you do not understand, ask the judge to explain the term or phrase to you.
- venire - the group of sworn jurors.
- verdict - the final formal trial decision made by a jury, read before the
court, and accepted by the judge.
- voir dire examination - the preliminary questioning of jurors to establish