To ensure their rights, the people themselves must be willing to play a role in the justice system.
Trial by jury is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
History of Jury Duty
Trial by jury dates back to 1215 when King John I of England signed the Magna Carta, a charter that limited the power of the king and granted more rights to English citizens. The document expanded the authority of fact-finders in civil and criminal disputes to include citizens and judges, a right that became the cornerstone of the American justice system.
Serving On a Jury
Citizens randomly selected for jury duty become the fact-finders in cases presented to them. By giving equal weight to diverse voices, a jury represents the common sense of ordinary people. Each year, thousands of Pennsylvanians serve as jurors in communities throughout the state. If you received a summons for jury duty from your county court, contact your local district court administrator for information on:
- Where to report for service
- Parking and directions
- Length of service required
- Employer considerations
- Requests for postponement or excuse from service
Exemption from Jury Duty
Each jurisdiction retains the authority to grant or reject requests for postponement or excuse from service, but by law only those involved in active service in the armed forces of the United States or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, families (spouses, children, siblings, parents, grandparents and grandchildren) of criminal homicide victims and those persons demonstrating undue hardship caused by jury service will be excused.