Prospective jurors are selected at random from a list provided by the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The number of jurors selected for each jury pull is determined by the judge. In order to qualify to serve as a juror, one must have a valid Florida Driver License OR Identification Card, be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of DeSoto County.
There are certain statutory exemptions from serving as a juror:
- Served as a juror in DeSoto County within the past 12 months;
- An expectant mother;
- A parent that is NOT employed full-time and has custody of a child under six years of age;
- Are 70 years of age or older;
- A full-time law enforcement officer;
- Responsible for the care of a person who is incapable for caring for themselves;
- Convicted felon or currently under prosecution of any crime
Willful failure to respond to a juror summons may be considered contempt of court, punishable by up to $100 in fines and/or incarceration in the county jail for a period determined by the presiding judge. Requests for postponement or to be excused are mailed with the summons and must be returned to the Clerk’s Office no later than 5 business days prior to potential jury service.
Jurors who are regularly employed and who continue to receive regular wages while serving as a juror are not entitled to receive compensation for the first three days of service.
Jurors who are NOT regularly employed or who do not continue to receive regular wages while serving as a juror are entitled to receive $15 per day for the first three days of juror service.
Each juror who serves more than three days will be paid by the state for the fourth day of service and each day thereafter at the rate of $30 per day of service.
A juror excused from jury service at his/her request is not entitled to receive compensation.
If you are chosen and sworn as a juror in a case, there are some rules of conduct which you should observe:
- Be on time for court. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
- Sit in the same seat in the jury box. This allows the judge and attorneys to identify you more easily.
- Listen carefully. It is important that you hear every question asked and every answer given since your verdict will be based on the evidence given. If you do not understand any portion of the trial, ask the judge to have it explained.
- Do not talk about the case. You should not talk to anyone about the case. This includes the clerk, attorneys, judge, bailiff or even another juror unless you have retired to the jury room for deliberations. If anyone tries to talk to you about the case or attempts to influence you as a juror, you should report it to the judge immediately.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons needing a special accommodation to participate in jury service should contact our Jury Coordinator at 863-993-4876, no later than seven days prior to the date shown on the summons. If you are voice or hearing impaired, please call 1-800-955-8771.