17th Circuit Court
Jury Management Division
SCAM WARNING: If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be from the jury office, although they may ask for verification of your current address, please note that no one from the jury office or court will ever call you to ask for social security numbers or credit card numbers. Never give out personal or confidential information to anyone if you receive a call regarding jury service.
You have been called to serve as a juror. Nothing a citizen can do is more important. You will help decide what happens to the liberty or property of other people. You will want to do your best to assure that the jury you serve on returns a fair and impartial verdict.
Responsibilities of the Judge and Jury
In each trial, the judge determines the rules of law that govern the case. For example, the judge decides what evidence may be admitted or considers attorneys’ objections to something that was said during trial. At times, the judge may excuse the jury from the courtroom or may speak to the attorneys privately. When this occurs, jurors should not feel that their time is being wasted or that information is being withheld. These conferences allow the trial to continue fairly and efficiently. At the close of the trial, the judge will give the jurors instructions as to the laws that govern the case. At this time, the responsibility switches to the jurors.
Jurors will consider all the evidence and, from what you see and hear during the trial, determine what the true facts of the case really are. Then you will decide the case by applying the law (as explained by the judge) to the facts that you have determined to be true.
Types of Cases
Civil cases: A civil case is filed to resolve a dispute between people, groups, or entities. Those people, groups, or entities are called the parties to the lawsuit. The party who starts a civil suit is called the plaintiff. The party being sued is called the defendant. These cases may involve property or personal rights, such as landlord/tenant disputes, auto or personal injury accidents, product warranties, and contract disputes. In civil cases, the jury decides which party should prevail and whether damages (usually money) should be awarded.
Criminal cases: A criminal case is filed to determine whether the defendant, who has been charged, has committed a crime. A criminal case is brought by the government in the name of The People because a crime is a violation of a law – a rule of conduct – established by the people as a whole to keep order in the community. A criminal case is usually prosecuted by the county prosecuting attorney. The charges against the defendant may include several counts, or accusations. In criminal cases, the jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
How You Get Selected
Each year, the Kent County Circuit Court obtains names from a list of licensed drivers and state identification card holders in the county from the Secretary of State and complies that information into a source list. Individuals are randomly selected by a jury management computer program.
You are required to complete the Qualification Questionnaire within five (5) days of receipt. If you do not wish to use this website to complete your questionnaire, please tear-off part B, complete, sign and mail the questionnaire in a stamped envelope to the court. Please keep part A and bring with you when reporting for jury duty.
IMPORTANT: If you have already completed and mailed your Qualification Questionnaire back to the court, do not complete the online questionnaire.
How to Complete Your Online Juror Qualification Questionnaire
It is important to answer all questions accurately and completely to help the court determine if you are qualified to serve as a juror in Kent County. The e-response website allows you to respond to your summons, update contact/personal information, request a postponement and access proof of attendance at the completion of your jury service. Please click the e-response link below to access the website.
NOTE: Please make sure to click the submit button at the top of the page to successfully submit your qualification questionnaire. You should receive a confirmation email once your questionnaire has been received.
All who are summoned must serve on jury duty unless they are disqualified or excused by the court for the following reasons:
- You are not a citizen of the United States
- You are under 18 years of age
- You are not a resident of Kent County
- You are not able to speak or understand English
- You have a mental or physical disability that would affect your ability to serve
- A signed doctor’s excusal must be submitted to the court within 14 days
- You have been convicted of a felony
- You have served on a jury within the past 12 months
- Verification that you were paid to serve as a juror must be provided
- You are over 70 years of age and request to be excused
If you are scheduled to serve on a jury, the following handbook and video will help you to understand the proceedings in which you will participate.
Note: If you park somewhere that requires you to take a parking ticket, you are responsible for paying the parking fee.
Free Parking & Shuttle
The only free parking for jurors is located at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum parking lot off Bridge Street. Below you will find directions and a map for the free parking and shuttle service.
- Park at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum parking lot off Bridge Street.
There is no address for the parking lot, but it is located directly across the street from the River House-Bridgewater Place Condominiums located at: 335 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. A parking attendant will be present.
- After parking, head west to board the DASH West Shuttle bus on Bridge Street near the corner of Mount Vernon Ave (across from New Holland Brewing – The Knickerbocker).
- Exit the bus at the stop on Pearl Street near the corner of Ottawa Ave. (near Sundance Grill & Bar)
- Proceed one block north on Ottawa Ave. to the Kent County Courthouse.
- To return to the jury parking lot, head south from the courthouse to the intersection of Pearl and Ottawa. The DASH will pick you up across the street from where you were dropped off. Exit the bus at the stop you were picked up at on Bridge Street.
The DASH West Shuttle bus is a free service in downtown Grand Rapids and runs every 8 minutes, Monday – Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my employer wants proof that i was serving jury duty?
By law, an employer cannot fire, discipline or threaten such action, against an employee who is summoned for jury duty or chosen to serve on a jury, even for a long trial. As soon as a juror receives a summons for jury duty, he or she should inform their employer of the possibility of being selected and the need to be absent from work if selected to serve on jury duty.
A proof of attendance letter is available at the completion of your service. Attendance letters can be printed using the kiosks near the Jury Assembly Room or online using the e-response website at www.accesskent.com/jury.
To access the letter online you will need your candidate ID followed by your date of birth. After login, you will be directed to the home page where you can select print letters to print your attendance letter.
Can I get an excusal from jury service?
The jury office has limited authority to excuse a juror. Only an excusal for medical reason is allowed. If you have a medical condition that would prevent you from serving, a signed excusal from your doctor is required. Please attach your medical excusal to your jury questionnaire if you choose to send by mail. Excusals may also be faxed to the jury office at (616)632-5064 or mailed separately to:
Kent County Courthouse
180 Ottawa Ave NW Suite 1100
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Jurors will receive notification by mail, email, phone or text (depending on what information has been provided to us) when the request has been reviewed and whether it has been approved or denied.
Note: A signed doctor’s note must be submitted within 14 days of completing your jury questionnaire
If you are the sole caregiver for a person with a medical disability in your household, you may request an excusal. To be excused as a sole caregiver, you must be solely responsible for the daily care of a person with a permanent disability living in the same household. A signed doctor’s letter stating that you are a sole caregiver is required.
Will I be paid for my jury service?
Jurors are paid $18.00 for a half day and $35.00 for a full day. For each subsequent day, jurors are paid $23.00 per half day and $45.00 per full day. Jurors are also paid $0.20 per mile round-trip to the courthouse for each day you are required to report. You should receive your compensation check within 1-2 weeks of your service. If you are on a jury that lasts more than 4 days, you may receive two checks, 1-2 weeks apart.
Can I get a postponement?
If, when you receive your jury summons, you find that the date of your term of service is inconvenient (would cause an extreme hardship, financial or otherwise), you may request to have your jury service deferred to a different date. Requests must be made at least two weeks prior to your summons date.
Note: Only one deferral is allowed.
Request a deferment:
- Writing – You may write in your request in the remarks section of your qualification questionnaire. If you do not have enough room, please attach a separate letter. Please make sure your phone number or email address is written on the qualification questionnaire so that the jury office can contact you to select a new date. A deferment is finalized when a new date is selected and you have received a confirmation by email/text/mail or phone.
- Online – If you have filled out your qualification questionnaire online and have successfully submitted it, you may request to be deferred by clicking defer service on the home page. A calendar will appear showing you the available dates to defer to. Select the reason for deferral using the drop-down box, select the date you would like to defer to and click OK. You will be notified as soon as your request has been processed.
- Phone – You may request a deferral over the phone by calling the jury office.
- Last names A-L: (616 632-5062
- Last names M-Z: (616) 632-5081
- Email – You may email the jury office at email@example.com to request a deferment. Please include your full name and candidate ID.
Do I need to appear for jury service?
Please make sure to call the juror information line (866) 215-3884 after 6:00 p.m. the Friday before your scheduled appearance date and every evening during your term of service for reporting instructions. Your term of service is only one week. If the recorded message tells you your service is complete prior to your term ending, you are not required to keep calling. If you are required to report, please make sure to bring part A of your summons with you as you will need it to scan in at the courthouse.
What happens if I do not report as scheduled?
If you fail to appear as scheduled you will be sent a failure to appear letter. If you do not respond to the letter, an Order to Show Cause Hearing will be scheduled before the Chief Judge. If you fail to appear to the Show Cause Hearing, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and you may be issued fines or jail time once apprehended.
What should I expect on the day I report?
Shortly after everyone has arrived, we will begin orientation. Following orientation, there may be a waiting period before a trial begins. Resolving legal disputes can be complex and unpredictable work. Often cases are settled at the very last minute, but your presence is very important and can save time of both you and other trial participants. While you are waiting, you are welcome to use your phone (wi-fi is provided), tablet, or laptop (we have limited workspace/outlets available). You may bring reading material, snacks and beverages. We do provide free coffee, tea and hot chocolate. There are also vending machines and a snack shop if you would like to purchase snacks here. Generally, you should know by noon whether you are selected to serve. This may vary depending on the complexity of the case. You are expected to be available for the entire day.
Note: The Kent County Courthouse is a secure building. When entering, you will be required to pass through security screening. To avoid long lines, please make sure to remove all metal items from your pockets and place them in the trays provided. Jewelry, watches, and belts must also be removed and placed in the tray. Any item that you bring along with you must be run through a screening device. The following are examples of items that are not allowed to be brought into the building: box cutters, razors, tools, sharpened objects, blades or knives, pepper spray, knitting needles, or scissors.
What should I wear to court?
Casual, comfortable attire is recommended. Please avoid wearing shorts, tank tops and hats (except those worn for religious purposes). Dressing in layers is recommended as the temperature in the jury assembly area and in the courtroom can vary greatly.
What if I am a student?
Full time students may defer to a date either on a break between semesters or during the summer months. You must complete the qualification questionnaire and provide an official copy of your school schedule. If you attend school year round (including the summer months) you may be eligible for excusal. Please contact the jury office by phone: last names A-L (616)632-5062, last names M-Z (616) 632-5081 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I received a summons, but I no longer live in Kent County. What should I do?
By law, you must still return the qualification questionnaire. One of the qualification questions asks, “Do you live in Kent County?” – by answering no, you are requesting disqualification. You must provide your new address, as it is on your driver’s license, in order for the request to be approved.
What happens during the jury selection process?
Once you are seated in the courtroom, the judge will inform you about the case and introduce the lawyers, court staff and other parties involved. You will also take an oath, in which you promise to answer all questions truthfully. Next, the process known as voir dire begins. During this time, the judge and lawyers will question prospective jurors who are seated in the jury box to find out if anyone has any knowledge about the case, any personal interest, or any feelings that might make it hard for you to be impartial. Though some of the questions may seem personal, you should answer them completely and honestly. Remember, questions are not asked to embarrass you. They are intended to make sure members of the jury have no opinions or past experiences which might prevent them from making an impartial decision. If for any reason you feel that you should not serve as a juror in the case, you should say so and tell why. Both the defense and prosecution can excuse a certain number of prospective jurors without giving a reason, also known as peremptory challenges. Each side can also ask the judge to excuse prospective jurors for cause, meaning for some specific reason. It is up to the judge to decide if the reason for excusal is valid. When both sides are finished with their challenges, the jurors who have been seated will be sworn to try the case.
How long does the trial last?
Generally, trials last between one and three days. However, the length of each trial depends on the complexity of the case. The judge will inform you the morning of jury selection as to how long the trial is intended to last. You may voice to the judge any hardships you may have at that time.
After I’ve served, when am I qualified to serve again?
Upon completion of your jury service, you should not be called to serve again for a period of 12 months. If you are summoned within this period, please contact the court that summoned you to request disqualification. You may be asked to provide verification of service.
In the event of severe snow or icy conditions, please call the Jury Information Line (866-215-3884) the Monday of your jury service after 6:00 a.m. to see if you are still required to report. If the information has not changed, report as scheduled. If your service has been cancelled, please call the Jury Information Line Monday – Thursday after 6:00 p.m. to receive your reporting requirements for the rest of the week. If we have an email or mobile number that was provided to us from you, you should also receive an email/text alert notifying you of any changes in the schedule.