Jury Frequently Asked Questions
- How long do I serve on jury duty?
- How will I know which days to report?
- Where did the jury office get my name for jury duty?
- I do not reside in the county where the court is located. Do I have to serve?
- What are the grounds for requesting an excuse from service?
- May I postpone my service to a later date?
- What are jurors paid?
- Where should I park?
- May I bring a cell phone, laptop or pager into the courthouse?
- What should I wear?
- May I smoke?
- Will there be breaks? Are there lunch facilities available?
- May I bring my children?
- Does my employer have to pay me my normal wages during my jury service?
- Can my employer fire or discipline me for not being at work due to jury service?
- What if my employer wants proof I was there?
- What happens if I fail to appear for jury service?
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, one trial” court. You will be required to report only once during your two-week on call period. If you are not selected as a juror when you report, your service will be over when jury selection 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.
Note that jurors residing farther than 80 miles from the courthouse may be reimbursed for overnight stay(s) in a hotel near the courthouse, as well as meals and incidental expenses, so long as they obtain prior authorization from the jury office. Please call 415-522-2171 for more information.
What are the grounds for requesting an excuse from service?
You may be excused from service on request if you:
- Are 75 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 pre-school 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.
Note that even if you live further than 80 miles from the courthouse, you are welcome to participate as a prospective juror. If your trip to the courthouse would be inconveniently long, you may be eligible to stay at a hotel near the courthouse with court reimbursement, along with payment for meals and incidental expenses, so long as you obtain prior authorization from the jury office. Please call 415-522-2171 for more information.
May I postpone my service to a later date?
You may request a one-time postponement of your jury service for up to six months. 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.
What are jurors paid?
Jurors are paid an attendance fee of $40.00 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, laptop or pager 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.
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.;
- A coffee cart is located on the second floor, serving coffee, tea and specialty drinks.
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.
May I bring my children?
No. You should not bring your children to court as there are no facilities for them.
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 was there?
Certificates of attendance are available on a daily basis.
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.