Vermont - Jury Duty Laws, Jury Selection, Juror Qualification
Jury Duty in Vermont - What to Expect
In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers". In Vermont, 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
- Have attained the age of majority (18)
- Reside within the geographical jurisdiction of the court in which called to serve
- Be able to read, write, understand, and speak the English language
- Be capable, by reason of mental or physical condition, to render satisfactory jury service
- Not have served a term of imprisonment in this state after conviction of a felony
How Are Potential Jurors Chosen in Vermont?
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 Vermont, as described above.
Prior to the first day of July in each biennial year, the court administrator will be provided with names to comprise jury master list from records of the department of motor vehicles, the department of labor, the department of taxes, the department of health, and the department for children and families, as well as names of voters from the secretary of state.
Receiving a Jury Duty Summons in Vermont
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 VT, 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 Vermont jury duty obligations are complete.
You will receive nominal Vermont 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 Vermont re-adds you to the potential juror pool.
Jurors reporting for jury duty or jury selection in the state of Vermont 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 Vermont, 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.
Vermont Jury Duty Summons Frequency:
No more than 3 times in two years.
No prospective juror's name will be placed on the venire to serve in any state court of the state of Vermont more than once in any two-year period.
While there are a number of ways to be legally excused from jury duty in Vermont, failing to appear when summoned for jury selection or jury duty without an excuse is illegal, and can result in legal repercussions.
A juror failing to appear without submitting a satisfactory excuse may be subject to civil penalty by the presiding judge of up to $200.00.
Employers in Vermont are also forbidden from penalizing employees who miss work for jury duty.