Alabama - Jury Duty Laws, Jury Selection, Juror Qualification
Jury Duty in Alabama - What to Expect
In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers". In Alabama, a pool of potential jurors is randomly selected from the local population of individuals eligible for jury duty.
In the state of Alabama, a prospective juror is considered to be qualified if they are:
- A citizen of the United States
- A resident for more than 12 months
- over age 19
- have the ability to read and follow instructions given in the english language
- are not afflicted with any disease or handicap which obstructs the physical or mental requirements of a juror
- have not been convicted of any crime defined as having "moral turpitude" which resulted in the loss of their voting rights.
How Are Potential Jurors Chosen in Alabama?
The first stage in jury selection is summoning a pool of potential jurors from the list of local citizens eligible to serve on a jury in Alabama, as described above.
Jurors in Alabama are selected randomly from an alphabetical master list of jurors.
This list may be compiled using information such as voter registrations, registered motor vehicles and driver's licenses.
This list may also include information from lists compiling utility customers and persons listing property for ad valorem taxation.
Receiving a Jury Duty Summons in Alabama
If your name is randomly selected for the jury pool through the process described above, you receive a jury summons in the mail instructing you to appear for jury selection on a pre-set day.
While there are a few excuses for getting out of jury selection in AL, most people summoned will have to report to the courthouse for the next stage of the juror selection process, voir dire.
The Juror Selection Process, or "Voir Dire"
Just because you qualify to be a juror and are summoned for jury selection, doesn't mean that you will be selected to be a juror on a case. The process of "Voir Dire", the actual act of jury selection, is how judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors actually choose the individuals who will sit on the juries for upcoming criminal and civil cases.
During the voir dire process, each lawyer will ask the pool of potential jurors a series of questions about their background, beliefs, prejudices, or relationships with any party to the case. While the goal is to select an impartial jury to render a verdict, each attorney will also seek to exclude any jurors who seem to be more likely to vote against their client's interests. While jury candidates are instructed to be open and truthful when answering such questions, the juror selection process is also where most individuals who don't wish to serve on a trial find a way to be excused from further juror duties.
What Happens After Jury Selection Day
If you are selected to serve on a jury, you will be provided with the trial date, and must return to serve on the jury for the duration of the trial and deliberations. If you were not selected to serve on any jury during the voir dire process, you can go home, and your Alabama jury duty obligations are complete.
You will receive nominal Alabama jury duty pay for the jury selection day, as well as for any days served on a jury. Once your service is complete, you won't be summoned for jury duty again until Alabama re-adds you to the potential juror pool.
Jurors reporting for jury duty or jury selection in the state of Alabama are expected to dress professionally, in a manner appropriate for a court room.
Most courthouses suggest dress ranging from business casual to business attire. For men, this means slacks or khakis and a polo or button-down shirt, potentially with a tie or suit jacket. For women, this means a professional-looking pair of pants or a skirt, cardigan, sweater, twinset, or shirt.
As a juror, you are expected to maintain a professional and respectable appearance while performing your duties. Hats should never be worn in a courtroom, and you should avoid wearing shorts, t-shirts, tanktops, or anything printed with logos or slogans.
While jury duty is a civic requirement for all eligible citizens in Alabama, the state restricts how often you can be summoned for jury duty in order to ensure a fresh jury pool and prevent undue hardship by being summoned too frequently.
Alabama Jury Duty Summons Frequency:
The pool of names used to select jurors in Alabama is refreshed every four years, specifically after every presidential election.
If you have served as a grand or petit juror in a federal court no more than two years ago, you have the option to request a permanent excusal.
While there are a number of ways to be legally excused from jury duty in Alabama, failing to appear when summoned for jury selection or jury duty without an excuse is illegal, and can result in legal repercussions.
Per Alabama law, any individual who fails to appear for their scheduled jury duty may be required to show the cause for their absence.
If they fail to produce reasonable cause, they may be given a maximum fine of 1,000; imprisoned for 3 days or less, required to perform community service, or any combination thereof.
Employers in Alabama are also forbidden from penalizing employees who miss work for jury duty.