Kentucky Court of Justice
Jury duty in Kentucky: Jurors chosen from 3 state lists to ensure wide representation on juries
Individuals who do not qualify for jury duty
can simply complete and return qualification form
Jury duty is a privilege that allows Kentuckians to serve their fellow citizens and contribute to the state's court system.
"Americans are guaranteed a trial by a jury of their peers as one of their constitutional rights," said Scott Furkin, general counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in Frankfort. "All who seek their day in court are entitled to a fair hearing and jurors are asked to use sound judgment, integrity and impartiality when taking on this vital duty."
Below are answers to questions commonly asked about jury duty.
How are jury lists compiled?
The AOC, which is the administrative arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice, compiles a master list of prospective jurors for each of the 120 counties. Juror names are drawn from all people filing a Kentucky resident individual tax return, registered voters and licensed drivers over age 18. The AOC removes the names of deceased individuals by cross-referencing a list from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics. To qualify for jury duty, a person must:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Be a United States citizen.
- Be a resident of the county in which the case is to be tried.
- Be able to speak and understand English.
- Not have been convicted of a felony, unless pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored by the governor or other authorized person of the jurisdiction in which he or she was convicted.
- Not be currently under indictment.
- Not have served on a jury within the past 24 months.
Because juveniles under age 18 must occasionally file a tax return, their names may be included on a jury list even though they are too young to serve. When that happens, all they must do is return their juror qualification form after marking the box that states "I am under 18 years of age." They will then be disqualified for jury duty.
How does the jury summons process work?
District and circuit judges who need jurors for a trial notify the chief circuit judge or his or her designee. This jury administrator then requests a list of prospective jurors from the master list maintained by the AOC. The prospective jurors on the list are mailed a summons requiring them to report for jury service at a specified time and place. State law requires that the summons be issued at least 30 days before they are to report for service. Prospective jurors must fill out the juror qualification form enclosed with the summons and return it to the circuit court clerk’s office within five days of receipt. The information provided on the form determines whether an individual is qualified for jury duty.
How long do jurors serve?
By law a person summonsed to jury duty is required to be available for 30 court days. However, once a jury begins hearing a case, the jury will remain seated for the duration of that case. In some urban areas a person may be required to serve as few as 14 days, while in some rural areas a person may be asked to serve as many as 150 days. The judge will determine the exact length of jury service.
How often do jurors serve?
Jurors cannot serve more often than every 24 months.
What does a grand jury do?
A grand jury determines whether or not to indict, which means to bring a formal, criminal charge against an individual for a felony.
What does a petit or trial jury do?
Petit or trial juries hear and decide two kinds of cases — civil and criminal — in District Court or Circuit Court. District Court juries consist of six jurors and Circuit Court juries consist of 12 jurors.
What is the difference between civil and criminal cases?
Civil cases involve disputes between two or more individuals or corporations and usually involve a judgment awarding monetary damages. The party who files suit is the plaintiff and the party being sued is the defendant. In a civil case, five of six jurors must agree on a verdict at the District Court level and nine of the 12 jurors must agree at the Circuit Court level.
Criminal cases involve charges brought by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, represented by the county attorney in District Court or the commonwealth’s attorney in Circuit Court, against a person accused of committing a crime. The petit jury must decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence and recommend a suitable sentence should the defendant be found guilty. In a criminal case all of the jurors must agree upon a verdict of guilty or not guilty and all must agree on the penalty if the defendant is found guilty.