Jury Duty

Smyth County residents who are at least 18 years of age may be called upon for jury duty to hear criminal and/or civil cases, including commitment appeals from the state hospital.  Potential jurors are selected randomly using a list from the Department of Motor Vehicles and voter registration lists.  Jurors typically serve for a whole term of court, which roughly lasts about three months.  After a citizen serves as a juror in a Virginia state court, they are exempt from serving again for the next three years in any Virginia state court.

Am I required to report for jury duty?
If you fail to respond to a summons for jury duty, you may be found guilty of contempt of court.
Who is exempt from jury service?
The limited number of people who are automatically exempt from jury service are listed in §8.01-341 of the Code of Virginia.   https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter11/section8.01-341/

Those persons who may be granted an exemption upon their request are listed in §8.01-341.1 of the Code of Virginia. 


Those persons who may seek a deferral of their jury service to the next term of court are listed in §8.01-341.2 of the Code of Virginia.  

Persons who have reported as a juror in a Virginia state court in the preceding three years are ineligible to serve until three years pass from that prior service.  This restriction does not apply to jury service in any federal court.
How was I selected for jury service?
Once a year, approximately 1,500 citizens of Smyth County are randomly selected from lists from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the voter registration list to receive a jury questionnaire.  When these questionnaires are returned to the Clerk’s Office, either online or by mail, they are reviewed by jury commissioners who determine which citizens are qualified to serve as jurors.  Those who qualify make up the master jury list for the following calendar year.  Men and women over 18 years of age and from all walks of life have an equal opportunity to be called for jury service.
Will I be reimbursed for serving on jury duty?
You will be paid $50 for each day you must report to the courthouse.  This amount is set by statute and is considered reimbursement for your travel and other expenses.  Jurors can expect their checks to arrive in the mail approximately two weeks after the conclusion of their term of service.
How long will I be on jury duty?
Jurors summoned for jury service are on call for a term of court that lasts roughly three months. 
How will I know if and when to report for duty?
The jury information line (781-0340) is updated by 5:00 pm every Thursday with a recorded voice message containing the following week’s anticipated court schedule.  During their term of service, jurors must call weekly to determine whether or not they are required to appear the following week.  If they are required to report, jurors should call the jury information line the night before their trial to verify whether it is still scheduled to proceed, as well as the morning of their expected trial.
As a supplement to the jury information line, the Clerk’s Office staff will send notices by text and/or email to any juror who provides such contact information.  While texts and emails are convenient, they are not always reliable.  Accordingly, the fail-safe is the recorded jury information line (781-0340).
What about my job?
Your employer cannot fire, demote, or otherwise penalize you for missing work while performing jury duty, nor force you to take vacation, sick or personal time to do so.  As soon as practical, alert your employer about any upcoming jury service, and learn your employer's policy with regard to payment of wages/salary while serving as a juror.  Many employers may continue to pay your salary while you are on jury duty. 
What if an unexpected emergency keeps me from coming to the courthouse?
It is very important that all jurors report each day that they are called to do so, and that they arrive on time.  Your absence may delay a trial and result in hardship on the participants or cause unnecessary costs to be borne by the litigants.  If you have an emergency (sudden illness or a death in the family), immediately call the Clerk's Office at 782-4044.
How should I dress?
You should wear comfortable, but appropriate attire.  Casual clothes such as t-shirts, shorts, halter-tops, or other clothes that expose one’s midriff are not considered appropriate.  Please keep in mind that the temperature in our courtroom is sometimes cool, so please dress accordingly.
What items can I bring to the courthouse with me?
You will need to bring a photo ID with you, and you will be permitted to bring a hand-held purse (sometimes called a clinch purse), a book, crossword puzzles, or something else that can be done quietly.
What items are prohibited in the courtroom?
You will not be allowed to enter with cellphones, backpacks, larger pocketbooks, pocketbooks with any strap or cording attached, knives (even pocket knives), knitting needles and other sharp objects, electronic games and devices.  Please know that all persons seeking to enter the courthouse are subject to being searched.
Is there anything I can do to make my jury service more comfortable?
Yes.  While efforts are made to reduce delay and avoid waiting time, you may have to sit for some time before you know whether you have been chosen to actually sit on a jury.  Consider bringing with you a book, crossword puzzle, or something else that can be done quietly while waiting.  Electronic games and devices are not permitted.
How long will I be in court?
It is impossible to predict how long a trial will last, but the vast majority of trials are completed in one day.  You will usually be given a lunch break.  If you find that you need a break at another time, please notify a clerk or bailiff.
Is it possible that I might report for jury duty, but not actually sit on a jury?
There are times when you will report for jury duty only to find that you are released early.  While we try to avoid having any juror appear when not needed, it is sometimes impossible to know beforehand.  Nonetheless, if this happens, you are still entitled to payment in the amount of $50.
What is the Grand Jury?
In contrast to the function of juries described above, which are officially called “petit juries” or trial juries, a grand jury does not hear both sides of a case and does not determine guilt or innocence.  Instead, a grand jury determines only whether there is “probable cause” to believe that a person committed a crime.  A grand jury is composed of five to seven citizens of Smyth County, and grand jurors are required by law to keep secret its proceedings.  A grand jury convenes on the first day of each term of court, which in Smyth County occurs four times each year on the following days:  on the fourth Tuesdays of March, June, and September, and on the second Tuesday of December.
A thorough handbook for grand jurors is available here:
Where can I learn more about jury service?
The Supreme Court of Virginia provides this resource:  The Answer Book for Jury Service in Virginia
Where Can I View Jury Orientation Videos?
Juror Orientation Videos
Click this YouTube  link to view the video about jury service in Smyth County.

Click this VACOURTS.GOV “For Citizens” link  to view this video about jury service in Virginia, produced by the Supreme Court of Virginia.