IMPORTANT INFORMATION

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


Trial Participants
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 must:

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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.

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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 date.

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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 duty.

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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 process.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Wear comfortable clothing that reflects the seriousness of jury service.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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."

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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."

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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.

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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:

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  1. Opening Statements
  2. Plaintiff's or State's Case
  3. Defendant's Case
  4. Rebuttal
  5. Closing Arguments
  6. Judge's Charge to the Jury
  7. Jury Deliberations
  8. Verdict

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 to prove.

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 trial.

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 case over.

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, or foreman.

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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.

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