Jurors are selected
All people summoned for jury service must attend in court on the first day the jury panel is formed. The Court Registrar selects names of jurors randomly for a particular case. If they call your name, you have to go to the jury box.
Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve on a jury because only 12 jurors are required for a trial. Usually, more people than necessary are called. This means that you may not be selected to serve as a juror on the day. The judge may then dismiss you from jury service for that particular day. However, you must return to court every day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury, unless the court tells you otherwise. This is so you can make yourself available to be sworn on to a jury for another case.
Jurors are sworn in
You do not become a juror until you:
- have been called into the jury box, and
- have either sworn (on a holy book of your choice) or 'affirmed' that you will try the issues and return a true verdict, according to the evidence.
Challenges to you being a juror
An accused person may challenge up to seven prospective jurors. A challenge means that they may say that they don’t want certain jurors and can do so without giving any reason. The prosecution may also challenge seven prospective jurors. If your presence on the jury is successfully challenged, you will have to step down.
You should not let this upset you. It is not a personal reflection on you. Challenges are allowed to ensure that there is absolute fairness in the proceedings.
- If you are challenged without a reason being given, you must leave the jury box. You may be called to serve on another jury in a different courtroom later.
- If you are challenged with a reason given, it is the judge who decides whether or not you will serve. One reason might be that the accused knows you.
What if I know someone taking part in the trial?
It may happen that you know the accused person, a witness, someone taking part in the trial, or you are in some way connected with the case. In all these situations you must let the judge know before you have been sworn in or have affirmed. If you become aware of a connection after the trial has begun, you should immediately send a note to the judge through the foreperson of the jury.
How do I prepare for jury service?
We advise you to plan your journey to the courtroom and allow plenty of time for travel. You will have received an information sheet as part of the juror pack. This sheet includes information relating to:
- the courthouse you are to attend
- public transport information
- contact details for the local court office
This information is also available on jury.courts.ie
You should make any necessary arrangements (for example, childcare) in advance. You will also need to bring your Jury Summons. If you will have any special needs or requirements on the day, please contact the courthouse in advance. Facilities can vary from one courthouse to another.
How long will I serve on the jury?
This depends on different factors like:
- the county where the trial is held
- the number of weeks the court sits there to hear criminal cases
- the number of trials listed
- the length of these trials
If you are sworn in as a juror for a trial
If you are sworn in as a juror for a trial on the first day you attend the court, you will be told at the start of the trial how long it is expected to take. If you are sworn on the jury, the working day is usually 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. However, hours of attendance may vary and will depend on the judge. The court staff will keep you up to date.
If you are not sworn as a juror for a trial
If you are not sworn in as a juror for a trial on the first day, you will be free to go unless otherwise directed by the presiding judge.