Jury Service – Frequently Asked Questions
1. May I bring a cell phone to Court?
You may bring a cell phone to the courtroom: however, it must be turned off. You may ask the Judge for special consideration of this rule if special circumstances exist, such as a family member’s medical needs require you to remain in close contact. You must give such information to the Judge and/or Clerk prior to beginning of the trial.
2. What is the appropriate dress for serving jury duty?
There are no set rules about dress in court. Business casual is a good dress directive. You should also be comfortable. Please avoid extremes–shorts, halter tops, inappropriate t-shirts, muscle shirts and dress of a similar nature are not permitted. The important thing is to remember that you are going to a place of respect, so please dress accordingly.
3. When serving jury duty, will there be a lot of waiting involved?
There could be some, in the initial beginning process of the trial, as the attorneys may need to submit documents to Court.
4. Will jurors be kept overnight in a hotel?
Benton County does not usually keep any jurors overnight.
5.How did my name get chosen?
The Benton County Judges have chosen to use registered voters. Every year the Circuit Clerk downloads 5,000 names to make up a master list from the Arkansas Voter Registration database of Benton County voters. This process is done at a random pull of the entire database, excluding those that have served in the last two years in Benton County, Arkansas. Then at the Circuit Clerk’s direction, the computer randomly draws 800 names from the master list to be qualified for a term of service. This process happens every four months.
6. How do I postpone my jury service?
Arkansas law does allow an option that is called Deferment of Term. However, this does not excuse you from your obligation to serve as a juror. This option simply allows for you to transfer your term due to current circumstances.
7. Will I need to pack a lunch or will one be provided?
In most cases, if you have been seated and sworn in as a juror to hear a case and this process has been completed before the lunch break, then the Court will provide lunch for you and continue to do so for each day until the trial ends. Meals are only provided for the actual jurors that hear a case. If you are called in and not seated to hear the case, lunch will not be provided. The presiding Judge will consider the needs of the jurors concerning the meal procedure.
8. Am I required to speak to the attorneys/reporters after the case is concluded?
No, you are not required to speak to anyone after the case. If contacted to do so, it is completely your decision. Some attorneys may contact you as jurors to see what they might have done differently during the trial as your opinion holds a great deal of importance to them. In rare occasions, a news reporter may contact you to discuss the case. Again, it is your choice who you speak to, if anyone.
9. Where do I park? Is there a fee for parking?
Click here for parking map. Please remember to not park in private parking lots as your car could be towed at your expense. The City of Bentonville is not currently charging a parking fee. If this changes and you receive a parking ticket, simply sign the back of the ticket legibly and deliver it to the bailiff of your court or the Circuit Clerk so that we can exempt you from this fine. You are exempt from parking fees as jurors.
10. Is there an age limit to serve as a juror?
In the State of Arkansas there are no exemptions on age, other than you must be at least 18 years of age or older. Everyone ages differently. As long as you meet the qualifications, you are eligible to serve.
11. Can my family member serve in my place?
No, unfortunately the law doesn’t allow for this substitution. The juror has to come from the random pull of the Voter Registration data base.
12. Can anyone volunteer to be a juror?
No, as this would allow for one to become very educated in the juror process. The law prohibits one from being a “professional juror”. This is one of the reasons the random pull of jurors from a data base is so important.
13. Can I be excused due to my occupation?
No. A wise Judge onced asked a juror who had asked to be excused “If I excuse you, then who do I choose to replace you?” Everyone has circumstances and special needs. You can present your special request to the presiding Judge when you report for Court.
14. How much notification do I receive before I’m required to report?
You are normally given 24-hour notification. This is a short amount of time, however this is so that we know almost without a doubt that the trial is going to occur. Trials are on the schedule daily and if we called every time we had one scheduled, you as a juror would have a lot of interrupted time being called in, only to be released once you arrived.
15. How do I get notified to report as well as cancellations?
You will be notified via phone by one of the Deputy Clerks. A message can be left with a responsible older child or adult. No messages will be left on answering machines or cell phones.
In the event we have advance notice of a trial, you may receive a text, voicemail or email message for reminders or updates regarding the trial. You may also receive a text, voicemail or email message if there is a cancellation of a trial.
For cancellations due to the case settling or inclement weather, we will use the automated text voicemail messaging system as well as notifying the local radio and T.V. stations.
16. What if I’m going to be gone on vacation?
You should contact the Circuit Clerk of any scheduled vacations or medical appointments via email at email@example.com.
17. Who do I contact if I have been called and have an emergency?
You should contact the Circuit Clerk at 8:00 am on the day you are to report. The Clerk will then contact the appropriate Judge presiding over your case. (479) 271-1015
18. What if I’m self employed or a stay at home mother – can I be excused?
There is no provision in Arkansas law for being excused from jury service due to employment or child care needs. If you feel your need is substantial, you may contact the presiding Judge for special consideration. You will be given the Judge’s contact number when you are summoned to appear.
19. What if I have a DWI?
A misdemeanor charge does not disqualify you from serving as a juror. A person can not be qualified if they have a felony conviction for which they have not been pardoned or the charges not expunged.
20. What happens if I do not report when summoned?
You may be required to appear before the presiding Judge to show cause why you did not appear as summoned. You could be fined, given community service or be placed in jail for not appearing.