Jury Service Information
Jury service is an important civic and community duty. By service on a jury, a citizen has a direct hand in the administration of justice. The right to a trial by jury had its origin in England and has been preserved by the institutions of our state and country. Jury service is a privilege and responsibility which you should accept with pride.
All Georgia residents are obligated by state law to serve as jurors unless they are under the age of 18, not a citizen, do not possess sufficient knowledge of the English language, and/or have been convicted of a felony and their civil rights have not been restored.
The jury is responsible for correctly deciding the facts which are in dispute in a given case. An error made by the jury with regard to a question of fact is not easily corrected. Thus, a juror’s duty is one of responsibility and importance.
Stephens County has two courts in which jury trials are authorized by law. The Superior Court has jurisdiction over all felony (serious) criminal cases, exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving title to land, divorce, child custody, adoption, equity and construction of wills. State Court has jurisdiction over all misdemeanor (non-felony) criminal cases and jurisdiction over all civil matters not exclusively delegated to superior court by law.
As a juror, you may be required to serve on civil and/or criminal cases. The district attorney is the prosecuting attorney in superior court and the solicitor-general is the prosecutor in state court.
Civil cases involve disagreements between two or more private individuals, corporations, or entities that have asked the court to resolve the matter in dispute. Some examples of civil cases are divorce, breach of contract or personal injury. A civil case is filed on behalf of a party that seeks relief. Normally, a party filing a civil suit seeks an award of monetary damages to compensate the plaintiff for a loss or injury. The party initiating the suit is called the plaintiff and the party being sued is called the defendant.
Criminal cases are contests between the state and one or more individuals and are based upon the occurrence of an alleged violation of a state statue enacted for the benefit of the public. The court is asked to punish the offender. Examples of criminal cases are murder, burglary, shoplifting and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In a criminal case the action is brought in the name of and on behalf of the people of the State of Georgia as plaintiff against the person accused of committing a crime, who is the defendant.
Jurors decide guilt or innocence in criminal cases and are not responsible for imposing punishment, except in a capital punishment (death penalty) trial.
Jury duty is a civic obligation, not a job, and does not come with a salary. However, most jurisdictions provide some compensation; in addition, your employer may be required to give leave for jury service. For details, contact the authority that issued your jury summons.