Jurors’ Frequently Asked Questions
Have you been summoned for jury duty?
How long do I serve on jury duty?
Jurors are on call for two weeks (10 consecutive court days beginning the first day you are on call). This court is a “one appearance, or one trial” court. You will be required to make only one appearance in court for jury selections held that day, or serve for one trial (jury selection may take more than one day). If you are not selected as a juror when you report, your service will be over once the jury selection process is complete. If you are selected to serve on a trial, you must serve the length of the trial; when the trial is over, your service is complete.
How will I know which days to report?
You must check for reporting instructions the day before your first scheduled reporting date to find out if or when you are required to appear. If you are not required to appear that first day, the message will tell you when to call again. You must continue calling for instructions until the message says your service is over.
Where did the jury office get my name for jury duty?
Names for potential jurors are randomly drawn from voter registration lists obtained from the Secretary of State of California and from lists of driver’s license/identification cards obtained from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
I do not reside in the county where the court is located. Do I have to serve?
The boundaries of the Northern District of California include the following 15 counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma. If you live in any of these counties, you are subject to jury service in one of the court’s four locations: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or Eureka. Once you are summoned to one location, your service cannot be transferred to any other location.
What are the grounds for requesting an excuse from service?
Many requests for excuse – and any excuses related to financial hardship – may only be granted by a judge. You may be excused from service on request if you:
- Are 70 years of age or older;
- Have reported to court for jury service in the past 12 months. You must have been present in court for at least one day and must provide a certificate of attendance from the other court showing the date(s) you were present;
- Are solely responsible for the care of a preschool child or an aged or infirm person and you are not employed outside the home;
- Reside more than 80 miles from the courthouse to which you are summoned;
- Serve as a volunteer firefighter or member of a volunteer rescue squad or ambulance crew.
What if I am nursing?
The Court does not typically excuse nursing mothers from service, and instead accommodates their needs and privacy during jury service.
What if I live too far away to commute to the courthouse?
Jurors residing further than 80 miles (one way) from the courthouse may be reimbursed for overnight stay(s) in a hotel near the courthouse, so long as prior authorization from the jury office is granted. Please call 415-522-2171 for more information.
May I postpone my service to a later date?
You may postpone your jury service one time for up to six months. You may request postponement of your jury service online after submitting your online questionnaire, or by emailing or calling the jury office. When you request a postponement, please be prepared to identify a two-week period within the next six months to which your service can be postponed.
Have you been instructed to report to the Courthouse?
What are jurors paid?
Jurors are paid an attendance fee of $50.00 per day. Regardless of means of travel, jurors also receive round-trip mileage from their home to the courthouse at the rate currently authorized by the Internal Revenue Service. The court validates juror parking at specific parking lots near the courthouse and reimburses bridge tolls when applicable.
Jurors residing farther than 80 miles from the courthouse may be reimbursed for lodging in a hotel near the courthouse, along with meals and incidental expenses, so long as they obtain prior authorization from the jury office. Please call 415-522-2171 for more information.
Where should I park?
The jury summons includes the addresses of parking lots in the vicinity of the courthouse where the court validates parking. You must bring your parking stub to the jury office for validation. If you park at any lot other than those listed, the court will not be able to validate your ticket; the court will not reimburse you for parking expenses incurred at lots not listed unless parking at the listed lots is for some reason impossible. Metered street parking should be avoided as there will not be regular opportunities to leave the courthouse during the day to feed parking meters.
May I bring a cell phone or laptop into the courthouse?
Yes. Jurors are allowed to bring these devices into the courthouse. Electronic devices must be turned off in courtrooms and whenever the judge so orders. Jurors are expected to be courteous of fellow jurors and court staff by keeping conversation volumes low. Photography is prohibited in the courthouse at all times.
Are there items I may not bring into the courthouse?
A prospective juror may not enter a federal building with any item that appears to pose a threat to security of safety including, but not limited to:
- Knives and bladed items, regardless of blade length;
- Metal forks, corkscrews and other kitchen utensils with a blade or sharp point;
- Knitting needles; handcuff keys or lock-picking implements.
As of July 1, 2014, the U.S. Marshal will no longer take temporary possession of prohibited items. Individuals who visit the courthouse with these or other prohibited items will not be allowed to enter the building.
What should I wear?
Jurors should dress comfortably. “Business casual” attire is generally appropriate. Very casual attire such as tank tops, halters, shorts, flip-flops and the like are not appropriate. A sweater or light jacket is recommended as the courtrooms can get cold.
May I smoke?
Smoking is prohibited within the courthouse and within 25 feet of any doorway. Smoking is permitted in outdoor areas 25 feet or more from courthouse doorways. Smoking materials must be disposed of properly.
Will there be breaks? Are there lunch facilities available?
There will be comfort breaks at appropriate times during the proceedings.
Jurors are welcome to bring lunch and there is a refrigerator and microwave available for juror use in each courthouse.
In the San Francisco courthouse, the following food service options are available to the public (and an ATM machine is located on the second floor):
- A cafeteria on the second floor of the Federal Building, Café 450, serves breakfast and lunch;
- A snack and sandwich shop on the 10th floor, the Midway Café, is open until 4:00 p.m.;
In the Oakland courthouse, a cafeteria is located on the fifth floor of the South Tower, The Tasty Lunchstop Café, serving breakfast, lunch and snacks. Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.
Restaurants are also available within a short walking distance of all the courthouses.
Where can I go to accommodate my nursing-related needs?
The Court provides a private room in the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose courthouses to accommodate visitors’ nursing-related needs. The availability of this designated space will be prioritized for use as a lactation room. The interior is shielded from view, and the private room provides an electrical outlet, desktop area, access to a nearby sink, and a door that locks with an indicator that the room is occupied.
- San Francisco: 18th floor Attorney Lounge
- Oakland: 4th floor Attorney Lounge
- San Jose: 4th floor, Room 4074 by Courtroom 6
May I bring my children?
No. You should not bring your children to court as there are no facilities for them.
What happens if I fail to appear for jury service?
Any person who fails to report for jury duty may be served with an order to show cause. The court may then hold a hearing on the order to show cause. A juror who fails to show adequate cause for the absence can be held in contempt of court under the Jury Selection Act. The penalty can be a fine of up to $1,000, up to three days imprisonment, a term of community service, or any combination of these.
Wondering about jury duty and your job?
Does my employer have to pay me my normal wages during my jury service?
No, there is no law requiring employers to pay employees for the time they miss while performing jury service. If you are paid your normal wages, your employer may require you to turn over the attendance fee that the court pays you.
Can my employer fire or discipline me for not being at work due to jury service?
No. Pursuant to Title 28, U.S.C. § 1875, “No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States.”
What if my employer wants proof I served on a jury?
The Jury Office provides certificates of attendance on a day-by-day basis. Dates of service can also be accessed by logging in to eJuror.