Frequently Asked Questions
 

Why is jury duty important?
 
The United States Constitution and the Minnesota State Constitution guarantees all people the right to a trial by an impartial jury.  Justice ultimately depends in large measure on the jurors who serve in our courts. 
 
What is my duty as a juror?
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial.  Your actions and decisions must be free of any bias or prejudice. You must apply the law given by the judge to the facts given during the trial to make a decision in a case. 

How was I selected for jury duty? 

You were selected at random from lists of voter registrations, driver registrations, and Minnesota identification cards for residents of Winona County. 

Who is eligible for jury duty?

Jurors must: 
Be a citizen of the United States 
Be at least 18 years of age 
Reside in Winona County 
Be able to communicate in English 
You cannot serve on a jury if you have been convicted of a felony and your civil rights have not been restored. 

If you are in doubt about your eligibility for jury service, you can contact the Jury Office by mail, or phone: 
Winona County Court Administrator 
171 W 3rd St. 
Winona, MN 55987 
Phone: (507) 457-6575 

How long does jury duty last?

Jury duty in Winona county is 4 months or 10 days, whichever occurs first.  However, if you are seated on a jury, your service will be continued until the trial is completed.  Jurors are required to serve for the duration of a trial. 

Can jury duty be rescheduled?

Yes.  However you will need to state the reason, in writing, why you cannot serve on a jury term.  If approved, you will be rescheduled to a future 2-month term. 

Can I avoid jury service? 

No, unless you are over 70 and request to be excused, or it you don't meet the requirements of Minnesota Statutes for extreme hardship. 

What type of cases do jurors hear?

Jurors hear felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, and civil cases.  Some types of cases are driving under the influence, assault, domestic violence, or theft.  Jurors will also hear civil cases in property disputes, contracts and personal injury. 

Are jurors compensated for jury service?

Jurors are paid $10 per day and 27 cents per mile round trip from home.  

Must my employer pay me while I am on jury duty? 
  
Your employer is not required to pay you while your are on jury duty, however, many employers will pay the difference between your jury payment and your salary, but they are not required to do so. 

Is my employment protected if I serve on jury duty?

Yes, your employment is protected under Minnesota Statutes 593.50, Subdivision 1.  An employer shall not deprive an employee of employment, or threaten or otherwise coerce the employee with respect thereto, because the employee receives a summons, responds thereto, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service. 
 
How a Jury is Chosen

After you have reported for jury duty, the jury panel is sent to the courtroom for jury selection.  A jury of twelve people will be selected for felony trials, and six people for gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor trials.  A jury of six to twelve people will be selected for civil trials.  The judge in the courtroom will explain the case and introduce the lawyers and other participants.  As part of jury selection, the judge and lawyers will then question the jury panel members to determine if anyone has knowledge of the case, a personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard to be impartial.  This process is called "voir dire", a phrase meaning "to speak the truth". 

Questions asked during voir dire may seem personal but should be answered completely and honestly.  the questions are not intended to embarrass anyone, but are used to make sure that members of the jury do not have opinions or past experiences, which might present reaching impartial decision. 

Challenges 

During voir dire, the lawyers may ask the judge to excuse a juror from sitting on the case.  This is called "challenging a juror".  there are two types of challenges: a challenge for cause and a peremptory challenge. 

A challenge for cause means the lawyer has a specific reason for thinking that a juror would not be able to be impartial.  for example, the case may involve a driving under the influence of alcohol.  If a juror had been in an accident with a drunk driver and was still upset about it, the defense attorney could ask that the juror be excused for that reason.  There is no limit to the number of jurors who may be excused for cause. 

Peremptory challenges do not require the lawyers to state any reason for excusing a juror.  Peremptory challenges are intended to allow lawyers, both prosecution and defense, to do their best to assure that the trial is fair. 
 
Reporting for Duty
 
Call in Procedure 

Winona County has a "call in" system to inform jurors when their services will be required.  The jury tape runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Instructions and the call in phone number are included in the jury questionnaire packed juror receive in the mail. 
  
Where to Report 
  
If your juror group number is selected, report as directed to the Winona County Courthouse, 171 West Third Street, Winona.  Parking is available in the parking lot west of the  Courthouse and in the street.  (See Yellow Informational Sheet.)   
  
When to Report 
  
First day jurors are instructed what time to report on the jury call in line.  On subsequent days, jurors will be advised what time to report.  Please be prompt.  One late juror can waste the time of the many persons involved in a trial.  Generally, your service day will be completed between 4:30-5:00 p.m. 
  
Cell Phones/Pagers 

Cell Phones and pagers are not allowed in the courtrooms or in the jury room during deliberations.  All cell phones and pagers will be required to be checked with the jury bailiffs or the Court Administrator's office. 
 
Order of Events in a Trial

After a jury is selected, the trial will generally follow this order of events: 

Opening Statements 

The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for the jury to decide. 

Presentation of Evidence 

The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge.  Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations.  The jury will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts; therefore, jurors attention at all times is critically important.  Juror note taking, or the use of any notes will be determined by the judge. 

Rulings by the Judge 

The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial.  Occasionally, the judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments.  The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their verdict is base upon proper evidence, as determined by the judge under the Rules of Evidence.  Jurors my give the evidence whatever weight they consider appropriate. 

Closing Arguments 

At the close of all the evidence, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments and attempt to persuade the jury to accept a view of the case. 

Instructions to the Jury 

After closing arguments, the judge will read the instructions to the jury explaining the law and other considerations in the case. 

Deliberations 

After instructions, the jury is isolated to decide the verdict in the case.