Jury Duty, a civic duty, is a fascinating lesson in the workings of Cleveland's court system. It's also sometimes met with anxiety, confusion, and surprise. Here's an idea on what to expect if you get called for jury duty in Cuyahoga County.
About the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court:
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court is the highest volume court system in the state of Ohio. It serves 40 courtrooms and 40 judges and handles both criminal and civil cases.
Who Gets Called:
Jurors are chosen at random from the rolls of the registered voters in Cuyahoga County. Few exemptions exist -- just members of a cloistered convent or monastery. Once lawyers and other professional persons were exempt, but no longer. Disqualified are felons who have not had their rights restored, those that have moved out of the county, and those that have served within one year.
Prospective jurors are notified by mail about four weeks prior to service.
What to Expect:
Jurors are assigned to both civil and criminal cases in courtrooms in the Justice Center and the Old Cuyahoga County Courthouse on Lakeside. The average length of a case is 3-4 days.
The process begins with the "voir dire," the process where the two lawyers and the judge question the jury panel to determine if there are any conflicts of interest and so that the lawyers can pick the best panel for their case. Civil panels are composed of eight members plus alternates and criminal cases are made up of 12 members plus alternates.
The chosen panel hears the case, deliberates, and then attempts to reach a verdict. A 3/4 majority is required in a civil case; a criminal verdict must be unanimous.
Jurors are forbidden to discuss the case during the trial process -- with anyone, including other jurors, family, and friends.
Parking and Transportation:
Parking around the Justice Center and Cuyahoga County Courthouse ranges from $3 to $13, with the less expensive lots located near the lake. The Justice Center lot, across Ontario St. from the building is $13, but the jury center will validate your ticket, which reduces the rate to $8.
Dozens of RTA
busses stop in and around the area. For route and fare information, see the RTA Web site.
Hours and Days of Service:
The standard length of service is five days, although that could be longer if the case to which you are assigned runs longer than five days. Hours are roughly 830am to 330pm with an hour for lunch.
Compensation for Jury Duty:
Jurors are compensated at $25 per day of service. A check is mailed to you 2-3 after you complete your service. Many corporations pay employees their full wage while they are serving on jury duty. A certificate of service is available from the court after your complete your jury duty service.
(Last updated 2-1-08)