One of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Florida and United States Constitution is the right to a trial by jury. The courts of this state cannot function without civic minded citizens answering the call to democracy and serving on a jury. Citizens of Broward County are a vital and integral part of the civil and criminal justice system. Without your participation, we cannot operate the courts.
You will generally be asked to serve on one case and the length of your service is determined by the judge presiding over the case.
Jury Pool to Jury Box
Being summoned for jury service does not guarantee that a person will actually 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.
Types of Cases Heard by Juries
There are two types of judicial proceedings generally heard by juries. .
- Criminal trial: An individual is accused of committing a crime that is considered against society as a whole. Six or twelve people, and alternates, make up a criminal jury. A unanimous decision must be reached before a defendant is found “guilty.” The State of Florida must prove the crime was committed “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
o Guilty pleas and plea negotiations reduce the need for juries in criminal cases.
- Civil trial: Litigants seek remedies for private wrongs that don’t necessarily have a broader social impact. At least six people make up a civil jury. The jury must come to a unanimous decision unless specified otherwise. The standard of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence,” or “more likely than not.”
o Settlement negotiations reduce the need for juries in civil cases.
Working Together: Judge and Jury
The judge determines the appropriate law that should be applied to the case and the jury finds the facts in the case based on what is presented to them during the proceedings.
At the end of a trial, the judge instructs the jury on the applicable law. While the jury must follow the judge’s instructions as to the law, the jury alone is responsible for determining the facts of a case.
For more information Visit Broward County Clerk of the Court
What is a jury?
A jury is a body of qualified citizens selected and sworn to decide disputed issues of fact in a civil or criminal trial, according to the law and the evidence presented in court.
Prospective jurors are randomly selected from the Florida Driver Licenses Database of US citizens who are residents of Broward County and are 18 years of age or older. Jurors may serve only once in a calendar year.
Receiving a Jury Summons
When you receive a jury summons, read it carefully as it provides answers to almost every question about jury duty. The summons contains information regarding excusing or postponing service, payment and parking instructions. You must bring the summons with you when reporting for jury duty.
Attire and Dining
Maintaining the dignity of the Court with proper attire is required. Bring a jacket or sweater due to building temperature variations. Business casual is suggested. Uniforms, shorts, tank tops and flip-flops are not proper Courtroom attire. You may want to bring a jacket or sweater as courtrooms tend to be cool.
A Vending machine is located across the Jury room on the third floor. Various restaurants are within walking distance of the Broward County Courthouse. For those bringing lunch, a microwave is available.
Length of Service
The State of Florida utilizes a one day/one trial jury management system. That means that on the day you report for jury service your obligation is to be available to the Court for possible selection on a trial. If you are not selected to serve on a trial or in an ongoing selection by at the end of the first day, you will not have to report again the next day. However, if on your first day, you are selected on a trial, or in a selection process, you must serve until the end of the trial selection process or until the judge indicates that you are no longer needed. The average length of a jury trial in Broward County is three days.
Parking In Garage
Free reserved parking is provided for all those appearing for jury duty. Please bring the parking ticket that you will receive upon entering the parking garage, with you to be validated. Once you have parked your vehicle in the garage, proceed to the pedestrian walkway on the third (3rd) floor of the garage. This walkway will provide you with covered access to the third (3rd) floor of the Judicial Complex between the North and East Wings. View the Jury Parking section for detail and maps. IMPORTANT — If you own a high clearance vehicle such as a high-top van or recreational vehicle, you will not be able to park in the garage.
Upon entering the Judicial Complex, you will go through a security check which includes passing through a metal detector and placing items being carried through an X-ray machine.
Please note, the following items will be prohibited from coming into the courthouse. Security will NOT hold or return prohibited items to you.
Any and all other destructive devices and additional items not listed, considered dangerous by the security officials may be confiscated.