Alaska - Jury Duty Laws, Jury Selection, Juror Qualification
Jury Duty in Alaska - What to Expect
In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers". In Alaska, a pool of potential jurors is randomly selected from the local population of individuals eligible for jury duty.
In Alaska, a person is qualified to act as a juror if they are:
- a citizen of the United States
- a resident of the state of Alaska for at least 1 year
- at least 18 years of age
- of sound mind
- in possession of the person's natural faculties
- able to read or speak the English language
- pardon has been granted for felony.
Loss of hearing or sight in any degree or a disability that substantially impairs or interferes with the person's mobility does not automatically disqualify the prospective juror, and the court shall provide, and pay the cost of services of, any interpreter or reader when necessary to enable a person with impaired hearing or sight to act as a juror.
How Are Potential Jurors Chosen in Alaska?
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 Alaska, as described above.
Courts receive a list of active registered voters from the Alaska State Division of Elections. Software is used to randomly select groups of prospective jurors to summon over the course of a two-year period. The list is discarded and recreated from most current databases available, every two years. Databases can be provided by Department of Revenue and Department of Administration.
Persons eligible for jury service may volunteer for jury duty by contacting the Alaska Court System.
Receiving a Jury Duty Summons in Alaska
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 AK, 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 Alaska jury duty obligations are complete.
You will receive nominal Alaska 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 Alaska re-adds you to the potential juror pool.
Jurors reporting for jury duty or jury selection in the state of Alaska 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 Alaska, 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.
Alaska Jury Duty Summons Frequency:
A juror is exempt from service if they have previously served within the last one year, commencing the date of end of service.
Limitation of 3 months service maximum in two year period.
While there are a number of ways to be legally excused from jury duty in Alaska, failing to appear when summoned for jury selection or jury duty without an excuse is illegal, and can result in legal repercussions.
Failure to respond to a summons may result in contempt of court.
Employers in Alaska are also forbidden from penalizing employees who miss work for jury duty.