- When you receive a summons for jury duty, first realize that you are fulfilling an important civic duty, and an important responsibility as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Participation is critical in order to ensure that fellow citizens are afforded their right to an impartial jury trial, with a jury made up of their peers.
- This is a right guaranteed by the Federal and State Constitutions.
- A jury summons is a legal court document. Therefore if you do not appear for jury duty, you could be held in contempt of court.So, it is vital that you remain in contact with the Clerk's Office to sort out scheduling issues that may arise during the term in which you have been summons to serve. The Clerk will try to be as flexible as possible with any scheduling conflicts you may have.
- It is also important to note that your employer may not fire you from your job, or require you to use any sick leave for days you might have to miss due to jury duty. See the Clerk when you leave the Courthouse for a work excuse.
*Respond online from the Juror Portal with initial questionnaire and manage requests for excused dates of service
JURY INFORMATION LINE: 276-645-7390
Jurors have the responsibility of calling the Jury Information Line throughout their assigned term of Court to get updates on required dates for jury service and to determine the next date on which jurors are required to check-in.
Jurors are asked to call the Jury Line every Friday throughout the term after6 PM, and always the night before a scheduled Court date in order to check for last minute updates.
Day of Trial
- When you arrive on the day you have been summoned to serve there are several things to keep in mind.
- As a courtesy to your peers, attorneys, judges, court personnel, witnesses and others with involvement in the trial, please arrive on time.
- No electronic devices, including (but not limited to) cellphones, iPads, tablets, or E-cigarettes are allowed in the Bristol Virginia Courthouse.
- Parking the day of a trial.
- Please park in the gravel lot adjacent to the fire station.
- Please remember to put your juror parking pass on your dash for the day.
- Parking passes will be given to you at juror orientation.
Notification for Jury Duty
Jury Duty notices are mailed by first class mail approximately one month before your reporting date.
Questionnaire Sent to a Family Member now Deceased
Indicate on the Questionnaire that the family member is deceased and return it to the Circuit Court.
No Longer a Resident of the City of Bristol, VA
Indicate on the Questionnaire that you moved out of the City of Bristol, VA, and return the Questionnaire to the Circuit Court.
Check the box indicating that you are more than 70 years of age and do not wish to serve.
Please mail a doctor's statement along with your summons to the Clerk.
Jury Service Selection
Potential Jurors are randomly selected from voter registration/ DMV lists. The selection method is designed to produce a cross-section of the community.
Responding to Jury Duty Summons
The summons to Jury Duty is an official court summons. If you do not respond, you could be found in contempt of court!
Jury Duty and Employers
Your employer can't fire, demote, or otherwise penalize you for missing work while performing Jury Duty. Many employers continue to pay your salary while you are on Jury Duty. Give your employer notice of your Jury Duty and find out what the policy is at your job.
Reimbursement for Jury Duty Service
You will be reimbursed $30 for each day you must report to the courthouse. This amount is set by the state legislature and is considered reimbursement for your travel and other expenses. Jurors are compensated at the end of their term of service--checks are mailed.
It is very important that all Jurors report each day they are told to report and that they be on time. Your absence may delay a trial. If you have an emergency (such as a sudden illness or a death in the family), call the court immediately.
An orientation will be given at the beginning of each term for the Jurors by the Court to inform and educate them about Jury Service and the trial process. The orientation will inform you of the procedures for checking in on the days you must report to the courthouse, how you find out when to report, what the court's hours are, and what to do if you have an emergency during Jury Service. Additionally, you will learn about your role as a Juror and what you should and should not do while in the courthouse or serving on a jury.
Appropriate attire is required. Do not wear shorts or halter tops. For your comfort, be prepared for heating and air conditioning fluctuations in the courtrooms and jury room.
Both parties involved in a case generally seek to settle their differences and avoid the expense and time of a trial. Sometimes the case is settled just a few minutes before the trial begins. So even though several trials are scheduled for a certain day, the court doesn't know until that morning how many will actually go to trial. But your time spent waiting is not wasted - your very presence in the court encourages settlement.
At the start of a trial, the bailiff calls potential Jurors into the courtroom. The Clerk asks the potential Jurors to stand, hold up their right hands, and swear or affirm that they will truthfully answer the questions about to be asked of them. The judge will then provide the names of the parties and their attorneys and briefly explain the nature of the case. The judge will ask if you are related to anyone involved in the case, have any financial or other interest in the outcome of the case, have formed or expressed an opinion, or have any personal bias or prejudice that might affect how you decide the case. The attorneys for each side might also ask you some questions. If the judge concludes that you may not be able to make a fair decision, you will be asked to step down, and another prospective Juror will replace you. After the judge decides that all potential Jurors are qualified to fairly and impartially hear the case, the bailiff will give the list to the attorneys. Each side will remove names from the list. Those remaining Jurors then swear that they will hear the case and give a verdict they believe to be true. The trial is then ready to begin.
Discussion About the Trial
As long as the trial is still going on, do not discuss the trial with anyone. Do not discuss the case with your fellow Jurors until you begin your deliberations. Please refrain from watching news reports or newspaper accounts of the trial as long as the trial is still going on.
After Closing Arguments
After the judge gives you your instructions and you hear the attorneys' closing arguments, jurors leave the courtroom and go to the jury room to begin deliberations--the process the jury uses to reach its verdict. During deliberations, the jury will discuss evidence and review law and facts.
Jurors will elect one member of the jury to preside over the deliberations, seeing that everyone has an opportunity to participate and that the discussions remain orderly. The foreperson chosen to preside takes part in deliberations and votes on the verdict along with everyone else.
Every Juror must agree on the verdict in order to reach a unanimous verdict.