Montana - Jury Duty Laws, Jury Selection, Juror Qualification
Jury Duty in Montana - What to Expect
In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers". In Montana, a pool of potential jurors is randomly selected from the local population of individuals eligible for jury duty.
A prospective juror must be:
- A citizen of the United States
- 18 years of age or older
- A resident for at least 30 days of the state and of the city, town, or county in which summoned
- Have not been convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or other high crime.
How Are Potential Jurors Chosen in Montana?
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 Montana, as described above.
On the 2nd Monday of April of each year the secretary of state receives a list prepared from databases of licensed drivers and holders of Montana identification cards and holders of Montana identification cards, who are 18 years of age or older and reside in that county. The list is compiled on a county-by-county basis further divided by city to enable selection for city courts.
A juror's name may not appear on a combined list for more than one court during a 1-year term.
Receiving a Jury Duty Summons in Montana
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 MT, 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 Montana jury duty obligations are complete.
You will receive nominal Montana 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 Montana re-adds you to the potential juror pool.
Jurors reporting for jury duty or jury selection in the state of Montana 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 Montana, 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.
Montana Jury Duty Summons Frequency:
Potential jurors in Montana will be selected no more than once yearly.
While there are a number of ways to be legally excused from jury duty in Montana, failing to appear when summoned for jury selection or jury duty without an excuse is illegal, and can result in legal repercussions.
Any prospective juror who willfully and without reasonable excuse fails to attend may be attached and compelled to attend, and continuing to not show good cause, may be fined up to $50.00
Employers in Montana are also forbidden from penalizing employees who miss work for jury duty.