Home Essex County A Guide to Jury Duty in Essex County

A Guide to Jury Duty in Essex County

by Campbell Loeber
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Once every few years, that little green postcard has a chance of appearing in your mailbox. Even among those who have attended before, a jury duty summons can spark annoyance and sometimes confusion upon arrival. Nonetheless, as a resident of Essex County — and the broader United States — it is obligatory, and sometimes — interesting — to participate in this crucial part of the justice system. Read on to find out what to do and where to go when summoned to jury duty both in-person or online in Essex County. 

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So, You’ve Been Summoned 

When you receive an official summons, you’ll first be asked to fill out a questionnaire. This can be done online through a portal link provided on the summons, or a paper version can be requested if desired. Be sure not to discard the summons as you will continue to use the “Candidate ID” information it contains throughout this process.

The Ivy at Chatham

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All Essex County residents who are American citizens, physically and mentally able to fulfill the functions of a juror, and eighteen years of age likely qualify to serve. 

However, just because you are summoned and qualified does not necessarily mean you will be asked to report to the courthouse. The evening before you are scheduled to attend, check the Juror Reporting Page to see if your presence is indeed required. You can call the Jury Management Office with questions or request an accommodation in order to serve {973-776-9300 ext. 56887}. 

At the Courthouse 

If you are called on to report, you should arrive at the Essex County Veterans Courthouse {formerly the New Courts Building} in Newark. In most cases, you will be asked to come early to join the jury pool and at this time you might undergo further screening before being assigned to a case. Once assigned, the trial judge will detail the trial schedule, any recesses, and other breaks. You may bring personal devices and reading materials to the general assembly area, but note that all electronics must be turned off in the courtroom. 

Similarly, jurors are not permitted to read in the courtroom or bring snacks to the trial {leave the Pringles at home}. You will be given an ample lunch break, but luckily, Montclair has many quality coffee shops in case you need to stop for a pick-me-up when coming home. At the longest, the day can be expected to last from 8:30AM to 5PM, though the exact duration will depend on the trial. Likewise, the number of days you are asked to report will vary based on the specifics of the case. 

Internet {Juror} Service 

Due to ongoing restrictions surrounding the pandemic, jurors may be asked to participate in a virtual trial, depending on the date of service. In this case {no pun intended}, the presiding judge will again explain the specific process and schedule during the selection period. Virtual jury duty will be served online by video, with some trials shifting to a combined virtual and in-person model when circumstances allow. 

Given that COVID-19 updates are frequent, continue to visit the Juror Reporting Page for the most up-to-date instructions. You can also opt-in to receive text and email notifications to stay abreast of potential changes in real-time. 

General Information 

Whether jury duty is in-person or online, jurors should dress appropriately for appearance in court. According to the NJ Courts website, this means that no shorts, tee-shirts, uniforms, or clothing containing “statements or offensive symbols” will be allowed. Hats should also be removed when in the physical or virtual courtroom. 

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Jurors will be compensated for their time based on length and level of service {petit jurors are paid $5 for the first three days, $40 each additional day, and grand jurors are paid $5 a day}. This payment will be sent by mail in the weeks following the trial. Be sure to check with your employer, as the state of New Jersey does not require that a private employer pay your salary when absent for jury duty. 

That said, don’t forget to ask the courthouse administrators for a proof of service letter to provide upon your return to work! 

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