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Jury Selection

Can I request an excuse?

Judges grant deferrals or excuses for vacations, illness, or extreme hardships. Work related excuses, self employment or otherwise, do not constitute extreme hardships. Lack of auto transportation is not grounds for an excuse, except in areas where bus transportation does not exist. If you feel you must request a deferral or excuse from jury duty, please follow the instructions in your Summons.

What happens if I don't appear for jury duty?

28 U.S.C. § 1866(g) prescribes the following sanctions for noncompliance with a jury summons: the imposition of a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for not more than three days, performance of community service, or any combination thereof.  In fairness to all jurors who do report, a failure to report will be immediately addressed by the court and additional time may also be added to your term of service.

How much will I get paid?

Attendance: $50 per day for attendance, including travel days. The attendance fee is taxable income; you should keep a record of this. Mileage and subsistence, however, are not taxable.

Travel: Mileage reimbursed at the prevailing rate. **Reimbursement for travel by any other means than private vehicle must be pre-approved.**

Lodging/Meals: Jurors who travel 50 miles or further will be paid the prevailing federal subsistence rate to cover the cost of lodging and meals.  (Refer to your summons for the prevailing rate.)  You must provide your original hotel receipt for overnight lodging.

When can I expect payment?

Please allow 4-6 weeks before you receive payment.

In the event you are called to serve during a lapse in appropriation (i.e., a government shutdown), payment of juror fees and reimbursement of expenses may be delayed.

How was I selected to serve?

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1861, all litigants "have the right to grand and petit jurors selected at random from a fair cross section of the community." This court uses a two-step process to select jurors. First, a master jury wheel is created by selecting names at random from a combined list of registered voters and licensed drivers in the District of Montana. Then, individuals whose names have been randomly drawn from the master jury wheel are sent qualification questionnaires. The Court reviews the answers of the questionnaires to determine whether individuals are qualified to serve. The names of those individuals deemed qualified are put on a second wheel, a qualified jury wheel. As prospective jurors are needed, the court randomly selects individuals from the qualified jury wheel to be summoned for jury duty. All of these selections are carried out through an electronic processing system programmed for pure randomized selection. The pure randomized process ensures that the mathematical odds of any single name being picked are substantially equal and that jurors represent a fair cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age or political affiliation.

Being summoned for jury service does not guarantee that an individual actually will serve on a jury. When a jury is needed for a trial, the group of qualified jurors is taken to the courtroom where the trial will take place. The judge and the attorneys then ask the potential jurors questions to determine their suitability to serve on the jury, a process called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to exclude from the jury people who may not be able to decide the case fairly. Members of the panel who know any person involved in the case, who have information about the case, or who may have strong prejudices about the people or issues involved in the case, typically will be excused by the judge. The attorneys also may exclude a certain number of jurors without giving a reason.

Please see US Court Jury Service for more information.

How are the divisions divided in Montana?

Below is a map of Montana showing the divisional boundaries for jurors:


What is a petit jury trial?

A civil petit jury is typically made up of 6 to 12 persons. In a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfill a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or penalty should be. A criminal petit jury is usually made up of 12 members. Criminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence usually is set by a judge. Verdicts in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous, although the parties in a civil case may agree to a non-unanimous verdict. A jury's deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom. Please see Handbook for Trial Jurors for more information.

What is a grand jury?

A grand jury, which normally consists of 16 to 23 members, has a more specialized function. The United States attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence, which the grand jury considers to determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not open for public observation. Please see Handbook for Grand Jurors for more information.