What to Expect When Summoned to Jury Duty in Tennessee

So, you have received your summons to report jury duty in Tennessee. Now what?

You probably have plenty of questions and concerns about the jury duty process. When you are chosen for jury duty in Tennessee, this comes with various obligations, including appearing at your local courthouse to go through a selection process. Yes, there is a possibility you could end up being involved in a trial. A jury duty summons is not something you can simply ignore. This is mandatory, and unless you have a significant and legitimate reason that will prevent you from fulfilling your obligations, you will need to report. Whether you have been summoned for jury duty or you know somebody who has, we want to answer some of the most common questions you may have.

What type of trials do juries hear?

In Tennessee, juries can sit for both criminal and civil cases. In criminal cases, the District Attorney representing the state of Tennessee will prosecute an individual or entity (the defendant). For civil cases an individual or entity brings forth a lawsuit against another individual or entity. In these cases, the “plaintiff” is the one bringing the suit, and the “defendant” is the party being sued.

How long will you have to serve as a juror?

The length of time that a person will serve as a juror varies widely. This all depends and what type of trial takes place. Some cases can run for an extended amount of time, but this is not commonplace. After you have been called for jury duty, you will not be summoned again for at least 24 months.

How do you know if you will be chosen?

In general, the majority of people who are summoned for jury duty will not actually serve as jurors. The courts summon many more jurors than are actually needed. In these cases, the judge and the presiding attorneys will select jurors based on questions posed to the jury panel. In short, when you are summoned, there is no way to know whether or not you will be chosen.

How are you chosen to sit on a jury?

During what is known as the “selection process,” you and the other jurors that were summoned will be questioned by a judge and the attorneys related to a particular case. You need to answer these questions as honestly as possible. This selection process attorneys for both sides to choose the best jury and your answers questions typically decide whether or not they accept you as a juror or “strike” you from being on the jury. Please understand that purposely answering questions in a way that you think will help you get out of jury duty could result in you being held in contempt of court. It is much better to just stick with honest answers.

What happens if you are chosen for the jury?

If you are chosen for a jury, the judge presiding over the case will discuss your responsibilities as a juror before the trial begins. This could include instructions against discussing the trial with others for a certain period of time, typically until the trial ends. You will also receive a brief education about the laws that govern the case that you will be serving as a juror on.

Will you be paid for your service?

Tennessee law allows for each juror to receive $11 for every day of jury duty. Yes, this seems like a paltry amount, but it may also be the case that your employer is required to compensate you for lost time when you are on jury duty. However, there are exceptions for employers who have less than five full-time employees or if you have been working for your employer for less than six months. In this situation, the person chosen for jury duty may be excused.

If you have additional questions, reach out to the experienced attorneys at our Nashville law firm.