July 8, 2020 | Oklahoma Law
Jury trials are an essential part of our judicial system. We have jury trials in both civil and criminal cases. While serving on a jury may take you away from your normal daily activities, it is a duty that should be treated seriously.
Who Can Serve on a Jury in Oklahoma?
You must be 18 years of age or older and a United States Citizen to serve on a jury in Oklahoma. You must also be a resident of Oklahoma. Individuals are called to jury service within the county in which they reside.
However, individuals who are 70 years and older are not required to serve jury duty, but they can choose to do so. Also, if you served on jury duty within the past five years, you may request to be released from jury duty or choose to serve.
People who may be exempted from jury duty in Oklahoma:
- A mother who is breastfeeding her baby;
- Members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving on active duty during a time of war or declared hostilities; and,
- A person who has a medically verifiable physical disability or mental disability.
Check with your court for specifics on who is exempt from jury duty.
Are There Some People Who Cannot Serve on a Jury in Oklahoma?
Yes, some individuals are excluded from jury duty. People who fall into the following categories are not eligible for jury duty in Oklahoma:
- Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs;
- Legislators who are involved in state business or during a session of the Legislature;
- Licensed attorneys who are practicing law;
- Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices;
- Court of Civil Appeals Justices;
- District Court Judges;
- Court of Criminal Appeals Judges; and,
- Individuals convicted of a felony who have not had their civil rights restored.
In certain circumstances, law enforcement officers or jailers are not qualified to serve on juries in criminal cases. They can serve on noncriminal juries.
Can I Get Out of Jury Duty in Oklahoma?
There may be instances in which the court may grant a postponement of your jury duty. You must have a compelling reason to request the postponement. The court will generally only grant one postponement.
The jury notice that you receive provides instructions for requesting an exemption or postponement. It is important to follow the instructions on the jury notice carefully. If you have questions, you should contact the Clerk of Court.
The sooner you contact the court, the better. If too many jurors have already been excused, the court may not grant your request for a postponement.
Having proof of the reason why you want a postponement of jury service can be helpful. For example, take a copy of your nonrefundable tickets or reservations with the information about the refund policy to the court. Keep in mind that the court is not likely to grant a postponement just because you do not want to miss work, or you have something planned that you just do not want to reschedule.
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up For Jury Duty?
Ignoring a summons for jury duty is not advisable. According to Oklahoma Statute §21-567B, you can be held in contempt of court for failing to appear for jury service. Without a good reason for not showing up, you could be fined up to $500 for failing to appear for jury duty.
Instead of a fine, the court could impose community service. The duration of the community service would equal the amount of time required to complete the jury service.
Do Jurors Serve on Personal Injury Cases?
Yes, the parties in a personal injury case may request a jury trial. The jurors in a civil case decide the facts of the case. They listen to the testimony presented during the trial and use the evidence admitted in court to reach a verdict.
At the end of the trial, the judge instructs the jurors on the laws that apply in the case. Jurors should use those instructions and the evidence to decide for one of the parties.
Personal injury claims can be heard by a jury include, but are not limited to:
- car accident cases
- motorcycle crashes
- commercial truck accidents
- product liability claims
- premises liability cases (slips and falls)
- bicycle accidents
- drunk driving accidents
- dog bite cases
- medical malpractice claims
- wrongful death claims
- and many others
If the jurors find for the plaintiff, the jurors also decide how much compensation the plaintiff receives for damages. When a jury decides for the defendant, the plaintiff does not receive compensation. If either party does not agree with the result of the jury trial, the party may file an appeal.