The right to a jury trial is a cherished privilege of American jurisprudence. It is guaranteed by the Michigan and United States constitutions. Courts need a method to select jurors. In the past, tax rolls and the registered voter lists supplied the names. Today, jurors are randomly drawn from the Secretary of State’s list of driver licenses and identification card holders.
The Leelanau County Jury Board consists of three members, who serve staggered six-year terms. They are selected by recommendation of the Circuit Judges with appointment by the County Commissioners. The board randomly selects several hundred names each year and and sends qualification questionnaires to those persons. All communications, excuses and exemptions are handled by the Leelanau County Clerk’s Office and the Chief Circuit Judge.
To qualify for jury duty, you must:
1. Be a United States citizen
Persons 70 years of age or over may choose to exempt themselves from jury duty. This is the only basis for exemption.
The law provides that a juror may be excused from jury duty if it appears to the presiding circuit judge that the interests of the public or of the prospective juror will be materially injured by the juror’s attendance, or the health of the juror or that of a member of the juror’s family requires the juror’s absence from court. Requests for excuse must be made in writing on a form provided by the Jury Clerk in the juror’s notice of dates and times of service.
Currently, State law sets the minimum amount of per diem at $15 per day and 10 cents per mile, although each county sets their own jury compensation.
Qualified jurors are mailed a notice giving them the dates of their service, an explanation of the conditions of their service and where they should report. A number is provided with directions to call after a certain time on a certain day to ascertain when and where the various panels need to attend.
Failure to complete and return a qualification or personal history questionnaire, or failure to appear for jury duty, is punishable by contempt of court. Prospective jurors have been arrested, found in contempt, fined and sentenced to jail. It is important to carefully follow directions received from the Jury Board and the Court.
You may contact the Leelanau County Clerk’s Office at 231-256-9824 if you have questions in regards to serving as a prospective juror.