Jury Duty - Athens Common Pleas Court
Jury trials have resumed. So you may be summoned for grand jury or trial jury service. You should not enter the courthouse if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are running a fever, have shortness of breath and/or have a chronic cough. Your temperature will be taken at the door. You need to wear a mask entering the building. If you have been infected with COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 you should notify the jury commissioner immediately.
The Court takes the public's health concerns seriously. We are taking additional steps to comply with state and federal guidelines to protect jurors from possible exposure to COVID-19. Towards that end, the modifications to traditional jury service include jurors are to be six feet apart and seating will be adjusted accordingly. Jurors will need to have masks upon entering the building and will be provided one if they do not have one. Although hand sanitizer will be available it is suggested that jurors bring their own to court. Jurors may wish to have their own pen/pencil/paper as well and are permitted to bring their own water/coffee/drink.
Other provisions and instructions will be mailed to you prior to arrival. Additional instructions will likely be given upon arrival. If you have questions along the way you are welcome to ask court staff for assistance.
Jury Duty is a civic obligation that our legal justice system holds dear. By educating the public as to the duties & responsibilities of the court, the Judges believe that informed citizens will be more responsive to a call for "Jury Service.” Jury duty is an inconvenience to some, but the jury system is the backbone of our criminal and civil justice system. It is direct citizen participation that makes us unique when compared to some other country's court system.
In other countries, a judge may be the only one who determines guilt or innocence of a defendant charged with a crime, or the liability of a party involved in a civil dispute. In the American Justice System, citizens directly participate in the system through the trial process.
A vast number of cases are resolved by the parties instead of being tried to a jury. For the very small percentage of cases that are not resolved by the parties, the case matter may proceed to trial to have a “jury of peers” decide the case. In criminal cases, the jury only decides if the defendant is guilty and punishment is left to the judge. In civil cases, a jury may generally determine if a party is liable (responsible) for damages and what the amount of damages (usually money) should be awarded. However, this is in general and may be different from the case you sit on as a juror. You do not need to know the law to be a good juror. The judge will instruct you as to the law and how it applies to your case.
Jury participation is something that our country and state founders found indispensable to the proper function of government. It was so important that it was specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution and Ohio Constitution. Citizen participation in the jury process is an important civic function and is one of the cornerstones of our system of justice.
Most people who participate as jurors report it as a worthwhile experience. Others report feeling that they have served their public duty by being a juror – and jurors have fulfilled that obligation. Jurors have the thanks of the Court for their attendance, participation, and attentiveness.
Those serving as jurors are sincerely appreciated by the Court, the citizens of Athens County and the parties involved in the legal system.
Judge George McCarthy, Judge Patrick Lang, the parties, and the community thank you in advance for your participation in fulfilling this important role.