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Stephenson County Petit Jury Duty

Serving on a petit jury can be a worthwhile experience. Although some cases may be quite demanding, the prospective juror will find the whole encounter very rewarding. Once selected, the juror will be asked by the presiding judge to listen to testimony, examine facts and evidence and, in conjunction with fellow jurors, come to a fair and impartial decision. Oftentimes this may not be easy, but the prospective juror's contribution is appreciated. During the juror's service, judges, attorneys, and court staff shall make every effort to assure that the juror is treated with courtesy, respect and regard for their privacy.

In Stephenson County citizens are required to serve only one (1) time during a 24-month period, whether it be one day or one trial (which may last for more than one day). It is possible that once a prospective juror is summoned, the case may be settled and the prospective juror will not have to serve. If a prospective juror was summoned but did not have to serve, the juror will be deferred to another date. If the second case is settled and the prospective juror did not have to serve, then the prospective juror's name is taken off of the list for two years.

There are occasions when a duplication of a prospective juror's name may appear on the list. This is due to the fact that names are collected from the latest list of all Illinois driver's license, Illinois identification card, and Illinois disabled person identification card holders of each town or precinct of Stephenson County. However, some names do slip through the process simply because a name may appear slightly different on one list compared to the other lists—for example, inclusion or omission of a middle initial, difference in spelling (Bob, Robert, Rob). In compiling the jury list, every attempt is made to the extent practicable to avoid duplication of names.

Each prospective juror will receive in the mail a petit juror summons (8½" x 11" sheet of paper) when called to serve on the jury. The summons will instruct the prospective juror to appear before the Circuit Court of Stephenson County at the Courthouse in the City of Freeport, IL, and will also provide the date and time they are to serve. The summons also directs the prospective juror to call 888-235-7468 after 5:00 p.m. the evening before the date scheduled for jury duty. There the prospective juror receives a recorded message indicating if the prospective juror's "panel" will need to appear at the courthouse for jury duty, what time, and what room to meet in. The message may also say that the prospective juror's "panel" was deferred to another date of which that date will be provided, or the "panel" does not need to appear and no further date is assigned. The "panel" number appears on the petit juror summons two lines below the juror sequence number. The prospective juror will need to have this "panel" number when making the telephone call the evening before, as there may be messages for more than one panel. As a reminder to all, prospective jurors are not allowed to bring their own food or beverage into the courthouse. If applicable, the same will be provided. Also, cellular telephones are no longer allowed into the courthouse.

There is an acknowledgment card also included with the petit juror summons. It needs to be completed and immediately returned. There should be return postage already affixed on the reverse side.

There is no single excuse that guarantees exemption from jury service. Each request is individually reviewed. However, there may be an occasion when a prospective juror cannot appear on the required date, such as illness or vacation, and so on. If so, the prospective juror will need to telephone the Circuit Clerk's Office at 815-235-8266 and press #4 at the prompt during business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and speak with the jury clerk about the matter to see if the summons can be deferred.

There are also occasions where the prospective juror shows that such service would impose an undue hardship on account of the nature of the prospective juror's occupation, business affairs, physical health, family situation, active duty in the Illinois National Guard or Illinois Naval Militia or other personal affairs. If this is the case, the prospective juror will need also to discuss this matter with the jury clerk.

Once a prospective juror is selected to be on the jury, a service fee of $10.00 per day plus mileage will be paid to each juror via check and will be mailed within 10 days.

There are other notices a prospective juror may receive for jury duty. One comes from the State's Attorney's Office for grand jury and the other comes from the Coroner's Office for coroner jury. For information regarding either of these, the prospective juror will have to contact the respective offices.

Without willing jurors, the fairness and integrity of our judicial system could not be maintained. Thank you for your involvement.

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