You are here
Who can I contact if I have questions regarding jury duty?
Please contact the Jury Specialist in one of three ways:
- By telephone at (515) 284-6270
- By email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- By fax at (515) 284-6418
Can I be excused from service if I have a medical condition that prevents me from serving?
Yes, a person with a medical condition that would prevent them from serving can be excused. To be excused, we must receive a note from a doctor identifying your name, juror participant number, and the medical reason that you are unable to serve as a juror. The doctor’s note can be mailed to:
U.S. District Court
P.O. Box 9344
Des Moines, IA 50306-9344
The note may also be sent by email or by fax to (515) 284-6418. Please note that your obligation to report and serve remains until you have been formally excused. You are responsible for verifying that you have been formally excused by the Court. To verify you were excused and do not need to report for jury service, you should:
How long does a trial last?
The length of trials vary, but on average, trials last approximately one week. During the jury selection process the judge will provide an estimated duration of the trial based on their experience. If the trial duration causes any personal hardships for you, please inform the judge of your concerns during the jury selection process.
Can I defer my jury duty?
In some cases, you may receive a one-time deferral and instead serve during a future month. Even if deferred, you will still be required to appear at a later date.
Now that my name was selected, how do I find out if I am required to report for jury duty?
You can receive reporting instructions by calling the Jury Information Line at (800) 743-9115, you will need your nine-digit participant number and zip code.
What should I expect when I appear for jury duty on the first day?
Upon arrival, you will pass through a security checkpoint and will then check in with the Clerk’s Office. After check in, you will be directed to a courtroom. Once all jurors arrive, the judge will inform you about the case, the parties involved, and will swear you in for duty.
After swearing in, a process called voir dire will begin. This is a process where the judge and attorneys will ask questions to you and other members of the jury panel so that they can make sure the final jurors will be fair and impartial. Questions may include details about your profession, prior jury service, knowledge of the case or defendant(s), personal interests in the outcome of the trial, or about your opinions or experiences.
This selection process will vary depending on the case. Generally, jury selection begins at approximately 8:30 a.m., and barring unforeseen circumstances, the final jury will be selected by noon. If you are not selected for jury duty you will be released for the day but will need to continue calling the Jury Information Line each week until your designated term is over. If you are selected for jury duty, the trial will begin and the judge will provide additional instructions for you.
What is the difference between a petit jury and a grand jury?
A petit jury is what you traditionally think of when serving on a jury. This form is used to decide facts in civil and criminal trials. The petit jury listens to evidence and arguments presented by both parties during a trial and returns a verdict.
A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but instead whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. Evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government, and the grand jury must determine from this evidence alone whether a person should have formal charges filed against them by the government. If the grand jury finds probable cause, then it will return a written statement of the charge called an indictment.
For more information on petit and grand juries, please refer to the Jury Handbooks section of our website.
What should I wear to court?
Serving as a juror is an important responsibility. Trials are important to the court and all parties involved so we ask that you please dress appropriately for the occasion. It is suggested that you wear business casual attire. You should not wear jeans, shorts, halter or tank tops, clothing that exposes the midriff, beachwear, sandals, or any clothing with inappropriate graphics, logos or wording. Because courtroom temperatures can vary, you may want to dress in layers or bring a sweater or coat.
Where should I park?
Please refer to the Parking section where you will find available options for each of the courthouses.
Do I have to pay for my own lunch during trial?
Yes, jurors receive lunch breaks each day of the trial and are on their own to provide for lunch. There are several restaurants near the courthouse, some being listed on the restaurant map.
Once the trial is complete and the jury enters deliberations, the court will provide lunch to the jury. If you would rather provide your own lunch or if you have dietary restrictions that our vendors cannot accommodate, refrigerators and microwaves are available for juror use.
Am I required to appear for jury duty during bad weather?
In case of inclement weather, please call the Jury Specialist to check your reporting status.
- If you are reporting to the Des Moines or Council Bluffs courthouse, please call (515) 284-6270 after 6:45 a.m.
- If you are reporting to the Davenport courthouse, please call (563) 884-7600 after 7:00 a.m.
Can I bring my children with me during jury duty?
No, the court does not provide child care and your children cannot be with you in the courtroom during service.
How do I call for a ride since I cannot bring my cell phone into the courthouse?
You may visit the Clerk’s Office, located within the courthouse, to make telephone calls.
How do I prove to my employer I appeared for jury duty?
If you serve as a juror during a trial, upon completion of service you will be provided with a Certificate of Attendance. If you appear for jury selection but are excused from service (i.e., not selected for a trial), you can print a Certificate of Attendance within 24 to 48 hours. This certificate can be obtained by logging into eJuror on our website using your nine-digit participant number and zip code. If you do not have a computer or need additional assistance, please contact the Jury Specialist at (515) 284-6270.
Can my employer punish me for or prevent me from serving for jury duty?
No, under federal law, employers must allow their employees time off for jury duty. An employee cannot be punished in any way for serving as a juror. Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 1875 (a) and (b) state that no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee's service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with any such service, in any court of the United States. Any employer violating these provisions will be liable for damages, may be enjoined from further violations, and will be subject to civil penalty to include fees and possible community service.
Is reporting and serving as a juror required and what happens if I fail to appear?
Yes, if you receive a summons to appear you are required to report for jury service. If you fail to report for service, you may be served with an order to appear before a judge and be held in contempt of court. This can result in the court imposing a fine, community service, and imprisonment.