What do I need to know about jury service?

Serving on a jury is both a responsibility of being a citizen and an opportunity to serve the community. It does not take any special training, skills, or legal knowledge to be a juror, just the requirement that you keep an open mind, pay attention, and make a decision based on the law and evidence that is presented.

You cannot volunteer for jury service. So, how do Maryland courts find jurors? Juror names are randomly selected from one of the lists that each county and Baltimore City use to identify prospective jurors. Prospective jurors get a summons in the mail to report for jury service at a specific date and time. If you do not appear for jury service at the date and time directed by the summons, or if you do not complete jury service, you can be fined and/or put in jail.

You are qualified to be a juror if you:

Jury Service

You cannot serve on a jury if you:

Your date of jury service sometimes can be changed if there is a pressing reason, for example, a previously scheduled medical procedure or travel plans. In some circumstances, you can make this change online.

Jurors receive a reimbursement for each day of jury service, which ranges from $15 to $30 per day, depending on the jurisdiction. The length of your jury service is established by each Circuit Court. Your local jury office can tell you how long you will have to serve.

Why are more people called for jury service than are selected to sit on a jury? One reason: there have to be enough jurors to hear each case and allow for challenges. Also, some cases that are scheduled for jury trials end up not needing any jury at all. Cases often settle at the last minute, sometimes even after a jury is selected. Your presence as a prospective juror may have been what was needed to encourage the parties to come to a resolution themselves.

Jury box

What is the difference between a trial jury and a grand jury?

  • Most people who have jury service are called to serve on a trial jury — traditionally called a "petit jury" — which listens to evidence in a courtroom, and decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant in a criminal case, and the liability and damages of the parties in a civil case.
  • A grand jury decides whether there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime. A grand jury also can conduct investigations.
  • You will not be asked to serve on more than one grand jury at the same time, or as both a grand juror and a trial juror.

Watch this short video from the Judiciary's video library for an overview of jury service in Maryland and what to expect if you are called for jury service.