No jury trials will take place at the Chatham County Courthouse through April 10, 2020 due to the judiciary emergency order. Therefore, those of you who have received a jury summons for the weeks starting March 16th, March 23rd, March 30th, and April 6th, as printed on your summons, your jury service is over and you will not need to report during those weeks nor call the Juror Information Line for reporting instructions.
Those of you who have received a jury summons for a week starting April 13 or later must follow the instructions on your summons and be available to report for jury service if needed during your summons week. Deferral, excusal, and exemption requests for the weeks starting April 13th or later, must be received at least 5 days before your week of service sent preferably via fax or mail. Remember for those later weeks you must start calling the juror information line the weekend before your week of service to hear your reporting instructions.
Any changes to the above instructions will be updated as soon as possible on this website and on the Juror Information Line recording.
If you have any further questions regarding a jury summons, please call the Jury Services division at 652-7170 between 2 and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Please stay safe and healthy during this time!
The United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution guarantee all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, or economic status, the right to a trial by an impartial jury. Justice ultimately depends upon the quality of the jurors who serve in our courts.
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. Your actions and decisions must be free of any bias or prejudice. Your actions and decisions are the foundation of our judicial system.
The pool from which our potential jurors are chosen is now a master list provided to us from the State of Georgia’s Council of Superior Court Clerks. This master list is a combination of all of Chatham County’s Voter Registered citizens and all of Chatham County citizens who are registered with the Department of Drivers’ Services possessing a driver’s license or identification card. The only limitations concerning a citizen’s frequency and length of service is as stated in OCGA § 15-12-3: “No person shall be allowed to serve on the trial jury of the superior court or on any trial jury in other courts for more than four weeks in any one year unless he or she is actually engaged in the trial of a case when the four weeks expire, in which case he or she shall be discharged as soon as the case is decided.” and in OCGA § 15-12-4 (a): “Any person who has served as a trial or grand juror at any session of the superior or state courts shall be ineligible for duty as a juror until the next succeeding county master jury list has been received by the clerk.”
Jurors must be randomly selected from the master jury list of all Chatham County citizens who are registered to vote or who are registered with the Department of Drivers Services that is provided to us yearly by the Council of Superior Court Clerks. You cannot volunteer to serve for someone else; you must wait until your name is randomly selected. If you are voter registered in Chatham County, have a drivers license or ID card, you may be summoned at any time; we do summon between 400 and 800 people every week of the year.
You cannot serve on a jury if:
If you have received a jury summons and you no longer have your official residence in Chatham County, Georgia as explained above, fill out the “Exemption/Deferral Form (2) of your summons and return it to the Jury Service office before the deadline. If you have lost your summons, you may download, print, and complete the form found here and send it to the Jury Service office before the deadline.
If you are in doubt, or think you may not be qualified to serve on a jury for one of the above or any other reasons, please call the Jury Services Division of the Superior Court Administrators office at 652-7170.
Mailing and Office address:
Jury Services, Room 616
Chatham County Courthouse
133 Montgomery Street
Savannah, GA 31401
Question Line: 912-652-7170
Juror Information Line: 912-652-7169
You are entitled to be exempted from jury duty service if you:
If you have lost your summons you may download and print an exemption request form here. Complete it as instructed on the form and return it to Jury Services before the deadline indicated.
Of course, if there is a problem with the week you have been summoned, contact the Jury Services Division before the deadline that is specified on your summons and it may be possible for your service to be be rescheduled to another week during the term of court for which you were summoned.
What if I am an active duty member of the regular or reserve component of the U.S. armed forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Georgia National Guard, or the Georgia Air National Guard who was ordered federal duty for a period of 90 days or longer or the spouse of any such service member and unable to serve as a juror as summoned, how may I be excused or deferred from jury service?
As a service member as explained above or the wife of a service member, you may have your service deferred or excused by submitting a copy of your valid military ID with the signed Juror Exemption/Deferral Form of your summons or with the signed military affidavit . You can mail or fax (912/652-7130) the copy of your ID and the completed request form to us. Call after giving us enough time to receive it, to verify that it has been received and you have been excused or deferred.
How can I request an excusal or deferral because of special circumstances such as being a primary unpaid caregiver for a person over the age of six, the caregiver having active care and custody of a child six years of age or younger, primary teacher in a home study program as defined in O.C.G.A. 20-2-690 (c),or a full-time student?
You may print and complete as instructed the appropriate Affidavit found below to request to be excused or deferred from your present summons for jury service for the above-mentioned reasons. Return the appropriate completed Affidavit to Jury Services before the indicated deadline.
Jurors needing special assistance due to disability, please call 912-652-7170 (between 2 and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday) at least five days prior to your week of service and talk to someone in the Jury Services Division about your special needs.
Summoned citizens who do not understand the English language or who are deaf or hard of hearing should contact the Jury Services Office at 912-652-7170 (between 2 pm and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday) as soon as possible after receiving a jury summons. You may also send a fax to 912-652-7130. If you do not get a response within 24 to 36 hours, contact us to confirm we received your request.
You are never automatically exempted from jury service, but when you are 70 years of age or older and you receive a summons, you may then request in writing that you want to be exempted because of age. (There is a form provided on the summons sent to you that you may complete, sign and return to us.) Some of our best jurors are 70 years of age and older and enjoy or want to continue serving when summoned! If you have lost your present jury summons, you may download and print an Exemption Form found here that you can use to request an exemption because you are 70 years of age or older.
The courthouse does have hearing devices available for jurors to utilize while serving on jury duty service. Be sure to request a hearing device when you report to the Jury Assembly Room.
Yes, everyone who is summoned and qualified is required to serve. In 1985 the Georgia legislators did away with all occupational exemptions.
The courthouse does not have child care facilities and children are not allowed in the courtrooms, so jurors need to make childcare arrangements to enable them to report for their jury service when their juror number is called to report. If you are the primary caregiver of a child six (6) or younger and have no reasonably available alternative child care for any week through the end of August, you may download, print, and complete the affidavit form found here. Submit it to Jury Services before the indicated deadline.
If you have a small child or children six years of age or younger, contact Jury Services at least five days prior to your week of service to defer your service to a week when you are able to make alternate childcare arrangements. You may also use the attached affidavit to request such a deferral. Call Jury Services at 912-652-7170 to verify that your affidavit has been received or if you have any further questions regarding this issue.
Usually, the free parking that is available for potential jurors is located on the 5th and 6th floors of the County Parking Garage located next to the courthouse or in the City's Robert Robinson Garage located across from the courthouse or the City's Liberty Street Parking Garage located on the corner of Liberty Street and Montgomery Street, or when the other garages are full you may be able to find free parking on the 5th, 6th, or 7th level of the Fairfield Inn and Suites garage located off of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. on the back side of the Chatham County Courthouse. Free available parking does change periodically, so the Juror Information Line at 912-652-7169 provides the most up-to-date daily parking instructions for the potential jurors who are required to report and there is a map to refer to on the back of the jury summons envelope. Grand Jurors should follow the same parking instructions that are given on that recording. Remember parking is on a "first come, first serve" basis. Be sure and allow enough time to find parking and arrive at the Jury Assembly Room on time.
Most trials in Chatham County are not sequestered jury trials. In fact, from May 1996 to the end of 2005, there was only one sequestered jury trial in Chatham County.
Only if you were selected to be a juror for a trial and the jury deliberation took place during mealtime or you were selected for one of those very infrequent sequestered jury trials, will jurors' meals be paid for by the County. Normally, the judge releases jurors for lunch to return at a specified time, allowing jurors to go wherever they want for meals.
Delinquent jurors may be charged for being in contempt of court, which could involve being sentenced to time in jail and/or a fine. Usually, at the end of the week of service - every Friday - jurors who did not report when called are sent a delinquent notice requiring them to call Jury Services and explain why they disregarded their summons to court. The jurors explanation and whether the trial they were assigned to was able to go forward without them, determines whether they will be turned over to the judge for contempt of court or whether we can work with them to make up their delinquency during another week of service. A trial that is canceled due to too few jurors reporting for jury service costs Chatham County tax payers thousands of dollars, as well as, wastes the time of all the other citizens who did report as summoned! Call Jury services (652-7170) if you have a problem serving during the week you are summoned to find out if your service may be postponed or excused.
Yes, you will be paid $15.00 for each day you report on time and are ready to go through the juror selection process. If you are selected to be a juror for a trial and are required to return for a second or subsequent days, you will receive $30.00 per day until that trial is completed.
According to the Annotated Code of Georgia, O.C.G.A. 34-1-3 “Discrimination against employee for attending a judicial proceeding in response to a court order or process; exception to applicability of Code section.
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil (including family cases).
A criminal case results when a person is accused of committing a crime. Jurors must decide whether the person charged is guilty or not guilty. The accused person is presumed innocent, and the State, represented by the District Attorney or an assistant to the District Attorney, must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two or more parties. In a civil case, jurors must answer questions of disputed facts based upon the testimony and evidence admitted by the judge. The answers to these questions are called the verdict.
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party to a civil case has a right to a jury trial. All parties are equal before the law and each is entitled to the same fair treatment.
Cases will usually be heard by juries of 6 or 12 jurors. A larger group, called a panel, will be sent to the trial court (courtroom) where the jurors will be questioned under the supervision of the judge.
A juror may be excused from the panel if it is shown that the juror cannot act impartially concerning the case to be heard. In addition, each side is allowed to remove a given number of jurors from the panel without having to show any reason. The trial jury will be the first 6 or 12 of the remaining jurors on the panel.
Additional jurors may be chosen as alternates in case one of the original 6 or 12 is unable to complete the trial.
It is a way for the parties to select a fair and impartial jury. Under the justice system, you may be questioned by each of the lawyers before they decide to remove a certain number of jurors from the jury panel.
For example: the lawyer may ask you questions to see if you are connected to the trial or if you have any prejudice or bias toward anyone in the trial. These questions are not intended to embarrass you, but rather to help the lawyers in the jury selection process. You may ask the judge to allow you to answer some questions away from the other jurors.
After you have been chosen to be a juror for a trial, if you have a special need or an emergency, tell the Sheriffs Deputy in charge of the courtroom. Chosen jurors should keep in touch with significant others during trial breaks.
How does one contact a juror on an ongoing trial after 5pm in an emergency situation?
After 5 pm the courthouse is closed to the public and the office staff have left. After 5 pm a juror may still be in a courtroom because a jury trial is still in session. In an emergency, a message may be left for a juror serving on a trial after 5 pm by calling 912-657-5334 or 912-652-7456 which is the courthouse security number. Tell the security person the name of the trial’s presiding judge of which their significant other is serving and the juror’s name. Then, ask the security person to get a message to that juror in that courtroom and give them your phone number.
During the day if a juror’s significant other has an emergency causing them to need to contact a chosen juror during an ongoing trial, they may call 652-7170 and speak to a Jury Services staff member or call the presiding judge’s office.
The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for you to decide.
Presentation Of Evidence
The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge. Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations. You have a right to ask for them. You will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts; therefore, your attention at all times is critically important. Juror note taking or the use of any notes will be determined by the judge.
Rulings By The Judge
The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their verdict is based upon proper evidence, as determined by the judge under the Rules of Evidence. You may give the evidence whatever weight you consider appropriate.
After the Charge of the Court, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments and to try to persuade the jury to accept their client's view of the case.
Instructions To The Jury
At the close of all the evidence, the judge may submit to the jury the Charge of the Court. This will include legal instructions on this particular case and the questions that the jury is to answer from the evidence admitted.
Deliberations And Verdict Of The Jury
Following closing arguments, the jury is sent to deliberate. When the jury has answered the questions asked of them they shall return their verdict. The verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented by the parties, the Charge of the Court, and the rules of law provided by the judge.
Often jury duty service is the first and possibly only interaction with the criminal justice system that many citizens have. The unknown is scary for most people even jurors. When jurors are called to report to the Jury Assembly Room, they will view an orientation film that will answer most of their questions concerning what is expected of them. The jury staff are also available to assist them during the orientation period. The summonses for jury service are mailed three to four weeks prior to the week of service in order to give those summoned time to contact Jury Services regarding any problems or questions they may have. Jurors may call 652-7170 between 2pm and 4:30pm Monday through Friday and someone in the Jury Services Division will be glad to talk to them. Jury Services also responds to hundreds of correspondence as well as jurors who come to the courthouse themselves with their questions and concerns. Requests may also be faxed to 652-7130 or submitted using the Request to Reschedule Jury Duty form. Jury service is a responsibility and a privilege which the majority of citizens perform without complaint; in fact many jurors enjoy their chance to be part of the justice system. Even jurors who have dreaded coming to serve have expressed how they actually were glad they served. Jury service is not an easy responsibility but it is a very important one!
When in Doubt, Ask The Judge
You have the right to communicate with the judge regarding any matters affecting your deliberations, including but not limited to:
Jury Services personnel
call jurors periodically to research change of address information and to contact jurors who are delinquent. These phone calls from our staff will
involve requests for anyone’s Social Security # nor anyone’s credit card numbers.
If you would like to verify a call you have received from someone saying they are with Chatham County Jury Services or you have any further questions please call 652-7170 between 2 pm and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday and speak with someone in the Jury Services office.
Call 652-7170 as soon as possible. Someone in Jury Services will give you all the information you will need to serve, as well as, send you a new summons. If you realized you lost your summons the weekend before your service is to start and you do not know what your Juror number is, report Monday, if any jurors are told to report and follow the instructions that Juror # 1 is given. When you get to the Jury Assembly Room tell one of the Jury Services’ staff about your problem.
The Jury Duty Experience
Thank you for serving your community. Being on a jury is a rewarding experience which in some cases may be quite demanding. You were asked to listen to testimony and to examine facts and evidence. Coming to decisions is often not easy, but your participation is appreciated.
Serving on a jury is not a common experience and may cause some jurors to have temporary symptoms of distress.
Not everyone feels anxiety or increased stress after jury duty. However, it may be helpful to be aware of the symptoms if they arise.
Some temporary signs of distress following jury duty include: anxiety, sleep or appetite changes, moodiness, physical problems (e.g. headaches, stomach aches, no energy, and the like), second guessing your verdict, feeling guilty, fear, trouble dealing with issues or topics related to the case, a desire to be by yourself, or decreased concentration or memory problems.
Symptoms may come and go, but will eventually go away. To help yourself, it is important to admit any symptoms you may have and deal with any unpleasant reactions.
Coping Techniques After Serving On A JuryTalk to family members and friends. One of the best ways to put your jury service experience in perspective is to discuss your feelings and reactions with loved ones and friends. You may also want to talk with your family physician or a member of the clergy.
Stick to your normal, daily routines. It is important to return to your normal schedule. Don't isolate yourself.
Before you leave the court, you may wish to get the names and numbers of at least two of your fellow jurors. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to people who went through the experience with you. This can help you to remember that you were part of a group (jury) and are not alone.
Remember that you are having normal responses to an unusual experience.
Remember that jury service is the responsibility of all good citizens.
Resist negative thoughts about the verdict.
No matter what others think about the verdict, your opinion is the only one that matters.
You don't have to prove yourself to anyone.
Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to serve on a jury. Some cases are very violent and brutal and hard to deal with. The case is now over and it is important for you to get on with your life.
If you are fearful of retaliation or if you are threatened after the trial, tell the court and/or law enforcement immediately.
If signs of distress persist for two weeks after your jury service has ended consider contacting your physician.
If you have received a Jury Summons in the mail, please review these steps and our frequently asked questions prior to reporting for Jury Service.
Remember: everyone who received a summons for a particular week are on call for that entire week . Check each evening after 6pm to find out if you need to report the next day.
Please call 652-7170 between 2 and 4:30pm Monday through Friday if you have any further questions concerning jury service in Chatham County.
Step 1: FILL OUT your JUROR INFORMATION FORM (1). Your summons will open to three pages
after removing the three perforations.
Step 2: START CALLING the JUROR INFORMATION LINE (652-7169) the weekend BEFORE your WEEK STARTING DATE. The reporting instructions for the Monday of your week of service is available on the Juror Information Line recording after 6 pm the Friday before, and the Saturday and Sunday before your week of service. Make sure you call during the correct week. The same juror numbers are assigned to different people each week. The recording will tell you the week the recording instructions are for.
Step 3: LISTEN for your JUROR NUMBER and TIME TO REPORT. You are to report only when and if your juror number is in the range of numbers required to report during your week of service. This website will also post the range of juror numbers that need to report and the time to report after 6pm each evening.
Step 4: REPORT for Jury Service to the JURY ASSEMBLY ROOM which is located on the second floor of the CHATHAM COUNTY COURTHOUSE. 133 MONTGOMERY STREET. Savannah. Georgia [ Map & Directions ]
Step 5: BRING your completed JUROR INFORMATION FORM (1) and the PARKING TICKET from the parking lot with you. Do not bring children. It is preferred that you do not bring pagers or cell phones. If your cell phone or any other device in your possession goes off and interrupts court, it will be confiscated. Your attire should reflect the dignity and professionalism of the court. Please do not wear shorts, tank tops, sweats, and t-shirts with inappropriate printed matter. We recommend bringing a jacket or sweater in case the temperature of the courtroom or jury assembly room is too cool for you.
Step 6: CONTINUE to CALL the JUROR INFORMATION LINE (652-7169) after 6:00 PM every night, Monday through Thursday nights of that week to receive reporting instructions for the following day. You may be called to report for the selection process more than one time.