THE INS AND OUTS OF JURY DUTY IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

December 9th, 2016 by JBWK

Submitted by Matthew D. Meadows

Recently my 73 year old mother was summonsed for Grand Jury duty in York County and asked me if she was required to serve. I told my mother, a former social studies teacher that not only was it her duty to serve but she was required to by law. Guess what… I was wrong!

Jurors are chosen from:

(1)  voter registration rolls

(2)  DMV’s list of persons with driver’s licenses

(3)  the personal property tax rolls

(4)  any other lists as may be designated by the chief judge of the circuit court.  [Va. Code §8.01-345]

To be a juror in Virginia you must be:

(1)  over the age of eighteen years

(2)  a resident of Virginia for at least one year

(3)  a resident of the city or county in which you are called for duty for at least six months [Va. Code §8.01-337]

There are persons automatically disqualified or exempt from serving as jurors that include:

(1)  those that have been declared by a court to be incapacitated

(2)  persons convicted of a felony

(3)  persons under a disability  

(4)  President and Vice President of the United States

(5)  Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General of Virginia, members of Congress, members of the General Assembly while in session

(6)  licensed practicing attorneys and judges

(7)  sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and police [Va. Code §8.01-338, 341]

That law also allows certain other people to claim an exemption from jury service upon request:

(1)  a mariner actually employed in maritime service

(2)  any person having legal custody of and responsibility for a child under 16 who requires continuous care during normal court hours or any mother who is breast-feeding

(3)  any person who is responsible for a person having a physical or mental impairment

(4)  any person over the age of 70 (that’s the one my mother could have used!). 

(5)  any person who is the only person performing services for a business, commercial or agricultural enterprise and whose services are so essential to the operations of the business, commercial or agricultural enterprise that such enterprise must close or cease to function if such person is required to perform jury duty

(6)  any person whose spouse is summoned to serve on the same jury panel

(7)  any person who is the only person performing services for a political subdivision as a firefighter and whose services are so essential to the operations of the political subdivision that such political subdivision will suffer an undue hardship in carrying out such services if such person is required to perform jury duty

(8)  any person employed by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Delegates, the Office of the Clerk of the Senate, the Division of Legislative Services, and the Division of Legislative Automated Systems (i) during the period beginning 60 days prior to the day any regular session commences and ending 30 days after the day of adjournment of such session and (ii) during the period beginning seven days prior to the day any reconvened or special session commences and ending seven days after the day of adjournment of such session

(9)  any general registrar, member of a local electoral board, or person appointed or employed by either the general registrar or the local electoral board (i) during the period beginning 90 days prior to any election and continuing through election day, (ii) during the period to ascertain the results of the election and continuing for 10 days after the local electoral board certifies the results of the election or (iii) during the period of an election recount or contested election Any officer of election shall be exempt from jury service only on election day as well.

(10)  any member of the armed services of the United States or the diplomatic service of the United States appointed under the Foreign Service who will be serving outside of the United States at the time of such jury service. [Va. Code 8.01-341.1]

The right to trial by a jury is found in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the United States Constitution. Serving on a jury is one of our most important rights and obligations as citizens but just be aware there are many exemptions out there including the one my mother could have utilized!

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