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FAQs: juror_faq

  • 1. I received a summons, how do I know it’s a legitimate federal form?

    Click here to view our Summons form.

  • 2. How can I contact the jury office?

    Please click here for information about contacting the jury office.

  • 3. Am I required to serve? Is jury service mandatory?

    Yes.  The United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases.  Your participation as a juror helps make this possible.

  • 4. What is the penalty for not appearing?

    Any person summoned for jury service who fails to appear as directed may be ordered by the district court to appear forthwith and show cause for failure to comply with the summons. Any person who fails to show good cause for noncompliance with a summons may be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.

  • 5. Why must I report to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, or Marquette? What counties are in each division?

    Every state in the United States has at least one federal district court. The state of Michigan is comprised of two federal district courts—the Western District of Michigan and the Eastern District of Michigan.

    The Western District of Michigan has 49 counties and is further divided into two divisions: Northern Division (entire Upper Peninsula) and Southern Division (western half of the Lower Peninsula).

    Residents within the Western District of Michigan are summoned by and report to one of four federal courthouse locations—Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, or Marquette—based on the county in which they currently live1:

    Each reporting location is comprised of the following counties:

    Southern Division at Grand Rapids: Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Ionia, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa, Wexford
    Southern Division at Kalamazoo: Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Van Buren
    Southern Division at Lansing: Branch, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Hillsdale
    Northern Division at Marquette: Alger, Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon, Schoolcraft


    1 Grand jury members for the Southern Division are drawn from residents residing throughout the Southern Division and report only to the Grand Rapids courthouse location. Northern Division grand jury members are drawn from the Upper Peninsula counties and report only to the Marquete courthouse location.

  • 6. I don’t live in any of the counties in the Western District. What should I do?

    You can respond to the summons via eJuror providing your new address.  You will be disqualified from serving in this district once we have your new information.

  • 7. What types of cases are heard in federal court?

    Federal Court jurisdiction is limited to certain kinds of cases listed in the Constitution. For the most part, federal courts only hear cases in which the United States is party, cases involving violations of the Constitution or federal law, crimes on federal land, and bankruptcy cases. Federal courts also hear cases based on state laws that involve parties from different states. While federal courts hear fewer cases than the state courts, the cases they do hear tend to be of national importance because of the federal laws they enforce and the federal rights they protect.

  • 8. What is the difference between Petit and Grand jury?

    The powers and functions of the federal grand jury differ from those of the federal trial jury, which is called the “petit” jury. The petit jury listens to evidence offered by the prosecution and the defense (if it chooses to offer any) during a criminal trial and returns a verdict of guilty or not guilty. The grand jury, on the other hand, does not determine guilt or innocence, but only whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that a specific person or persons committed it. If the grand jury finds probable cause to exist, then it will return a written statement of the charges called an “indictment”. After that the accused may go to trial.

  • 9. I just received a summons from federal court but I just served in my local court.

    Jury service in a state/county court does not exempt you from serving in federal court. If you have served on a Federal petit/grand jury within two years you may be excused. You must write a letter giving us the information regarding your previous federal jury service.

  • 10. What information do I need to return to the court?

    If you elect to send the paper forms mailed to you with your summons you need to return both the qualification questionnaire and the supplemental questionnaire.  If you respond on-line via eJuror you are not required to submit the paper forms.

  • 11. Do I automatically have to appear on the date printed on the summons?

    Not necessarily.  The court calls only the number of people needed for each selection.  Therefore, you must always call the (800) number listed on your summons, or access your record in eJuror, prior to reporting.

  • 12. How do I check for reporting instructions?

    Please call the jury hotline number (800) 553-6050.  Or, reporting information is also available by logging onto eJuror.  You will need your nine digit participant number to access your jury instructions.  This number can be found on the front of your summons to the right of your name and address.

  • 13. I have lost my summons and do not know my nine digit participant number!

    Jury staff will be able to provide you with your participant number during normal business hours.

  • 14. I realize it is my civic duty to participate in the jury process but I can’t serve during the term specified on the summons. Is it possible to have my jury service postponed?

    The Jury Act allows courts to grant temporary deferrals of service on the grounds of "extreme hardship or extreme inconvenience". If jury service during the time specified on your summons will create a hardship for you, you may request in writing, to be postponed to another date. In many cases you will be able to defer yourself to another term by accessing the eJuror portion of our website.
    You must complete all the information in eJuror before requesting a deferral.

    If you are unable to defer yourself through eJuror you may submit a request to the court via the Request an Excuse or Deferral page of our web site.

  • 15. I sent a letter to be excused. How/when will I know the Court’s decision?

    Requests to be excused are generally sent to the Judge the day they arrive at the courthouse. All excuse requests are sent to a District Judge, or Magistrate Judge, for decision.  Because they do not have to go through the mail, email requests are processed much sooner than those sent by first class mail.  The jury department will notify you by email, if an email address was provided, of the judge's decision. If the Court does not have an email address you will be notified via first class mail. You may also check your status by calling (800) 553-6050. Enter your nine digit participant number for your current status. You must continue to call as instructed for reporting information until you have received notification that you have been excused.

  • 16. I received a letter/email stating my request to be excused was denied. I’d like the Judge to reconsider. Can I send another request?

    No, once the Judge has made a decision regarding your request he or she will not reconsider. If your request is denied you must appear for selection (if instructed to appear when calling as required) and ask for reconsideration during the voir dire (selection) process

  • 17. If I’m instructed to appear for selection and must travel, where do I spend the night and how do I pay for it?

    During the months of November through March if you live over 50 miles from the courthouse and during the months of April through October if you live over 75 miles from the courthouse you are entitled to receive a subsistence fee for each night you are staying in a hotel.

    If you are staying with friends or family the subsistence allowance is $61.00 ($56.00 in Kalamazoo and $55.00 in Marquette) for each night you are staying with them.

    To qualify for the subsistence allowance you must first call (800) 553-6050 and be instructed to appear. If you fail to phone ahead and be instructed to appear you will not receive payment.  You will be asked to provide a hotel receipt upon check in.

    Current Subsistence Rates (effective October 1, 2020):

    • Grand Rapids Divisional Office: $175.00
    • Kalamazoo Divisional Office: $160.00
    • Lansing Divisional Office: $162.00
    • Marquette Divisional Office: $151.00

    You will be reimbursed the subsistence rate for each night you stay in a hotel. If you are financially unable to pay for a hotel in advance please contact the court to make other arrangements. Some local hotels will bill the court directly in the event of a financial hardship

  • 18. I’ve called and verified that I am required to appear, what happens on the first day I’m there?

    You will report to the location specified on the recording.  You will be asked to confirm your round trip mileage.  You will see a short video and receive orientation by jury personnel. Any questions you have will be answered at that time.  Parking and hotel information will be addressed at check in.

  • 19. What if there is bad weather on the day I’m asked to appear?

    Those people who have been selected and are sitting as jurors will be notified via telephone if the trial is canceled due to weather. Persons who are supposed to report for selection should call the number listed on your summons. The message will be updated if selection is canceled.

  • 20. Where do I park?

    Click on the link below for the city your Summons requests you to report to:

    Grand Rapids

  • 21. What should I wear?

    Please use good judgment and dress conservatively. Appropriate dress is required. Shorts, halter/tank tops or T-shirts with slogans are not permitted. As courtrooms tend to be cool you may want to bring a sweater or light jacket with you

  • 22. Can I bring my telephone/laptop or tablet?

    Jurors are allowed to bring their cell phone into the building.  Although laptops and tablets are permitted the Court does not provide wi-fi at this time.

    Please note that although jurors are allowed to bring their electronics, persons accompanying jurors are not allowed to bring phones or other electronic devices with them into the courthouse and will be required to return them to the car before entering the building.

  • 23. What should I bring with me when I report?

    Please bring your Jury Summons with you when you report. You may also want to bring books, magazines or study materials with you. Since the courtrooms tend to be cool, you may also want to bring a sweater or light jacket with you.

  • 24. How long will I be at the courthouse the first day?

    You will be required to report promptly at 8:00 a.m. on your first day, unless the telephone answering device tells you another time to report. You will be checked in and receive reporting and selection instructions prior to the selection process. Jury selection normally begins at 9:00 and is normally concluded before 12:00 noon. Trials begin immediately after selection. Therefore, if you are not selected you should be excused before noon.

  • 25. How many days do trials last?

    Trials can last anywhere from less than one day to several weeks in length. Our trials normally last 3-5 days. The Judge will advise you of the anticipated length of the trial during the selection process.

  • 26. Will I ever serve late in the evening or be sequestered?

    Normally Court is in session from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Only in extremely rare cases will a jury be sequestered.

  • 27. May I bring my children?

    No, the Court has no child care facilities

  • 28. How can my family reach me in case of an emergency?

    Family may call the jury office at (800) 553-6050 or (616) 456-2383 in the event of an emergency. Jury staff will notify you immediately.

  • 29. Will I be sitting around for a long time before going to the courtroom?

    Normally jury selection begins promptly at 9:00. Occasionally, however, there are delays. Our Judges value you and your participation. We make every effort to use your time well.

  • 30. Are there lunch facilities available or will we be expected to bring our lunch?

    There are restaurants within walking distance of the building or you may bring a lunch with you. Lunch is not provided by the Court.

  • 31. Are jurors given breaks?

    Breaks are given both during the selection process and during the trial.

  • 32. What fees are paid to jurors?

    Jurors are paid $50.00 for each day you report to the courthouse.  If you are in travel status you will be paid $50.00 for your travel day in addition to the subsistence allowance (see question 17)

  • 33. When will I receive payment for jury service?

    Juror payments are processed in Grand Rapids each Friday. Checks are mailed from one of two federal disbursement centers, usually within one week from the process date.

  • 34. Is my employer required to pay me or at least make up the difference while I serve on a jury?

    No, at this time there is no law requiring employers to do so.  However, a majority of employers at least make up the difference

  • 35. Are jury fees considered reportable income?

    Daily attendance fees are considered “other income” by the IRS and must be reported. A 1099 form will be mailed to any/all jurors who earn at least $600.00 in attendance fees (the $50.00 daily allowance). This does not include reimbursement for travel or subsistence.

  • 36. My employer wants proof that I appeared for jury duty.

    At check in, and upon request, a work slip or attendance verification will be provided.  If selected as a juror you will receive proof of each day's attendance on your last reporting day, at the conclusion of the trial. You may also access the eJuror portion of our website and print an attendance letter daily.

  • 37. What protects my employment while I’m serving on jury duty?

    You are protected by Federal Statue, 28 U.S.C. § 1875, from being discharged, intimidated or coerced by your permanent employer because of your attendance for service at this Court. (a) No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee's jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States. (b) Any employer who violates the provisions of this section - (1) shall be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by an employee by reason of such violation; (2) may be enjoined from further violations of this section and ordered to provide other appropriate relief, including but not limited to the reinstatement of any employee discharged by reason of his jury service; and (3) shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each violation as to each employee and may be ordered to perform community service

  • 38. Why have some people never been called for jury duty?

    Eligibility for federal jury service is dependent both upon an individual meeting the legal qualifications for service and upon the random chance of having one's name drawn from the source lists. Each judicial district must have a formal written plan for the selection of jurors, which provides for random selection from a fair cross-section of the community in the district, and which prohibits discrimination in the selection process. Voter records--either voter registration lists or lists of actual voters--are the required source of names for federal court juries. This court supplements voter lists with lists of licensed drivers and Michigan I.D. holders. Click here for copy of this district's jury plan.