The right to a trial by jury is the privilege of every person in the United States, whether a citizen or not. This cherished right is guaranteed by both the United States and Michigan Constitutions. When you are summoned to render an important service as a juror, you have the privileges of citizenship and the protection of your liberties and property through our system of government. When you are selected to serve on a jury panel, you are an important member of the judicial system of Ottawa County and Michigan.
Your Role as a Juror
You’ve heard the term “jury of one’s peers”. In our country the job of determining the facts and reaching a just decision rests, not upon “the government” or any other “higher authority”, but with a jury, which is a small cross-section of the people in the community – fellow citizens of the parties to the lawsuit.
Your part as a juror is vital. You and your fellow-jurors will decide all disputed questions of fact. The Judge who presides over the trial will decide the questions of law, but you, the jury, will have to consider all the evidence and, from what you see and hear during the trial, determine what the facts of the case really are.
Then you will apply the law (as explained by the Judge at the end of the trial) to the facts you have determined, and decide the case.
In other words, you, the jury – not the judge, not “the system” – will decide the case. Justice depends on you.
The purpose of a trial is to do justice, by deciding a dispute between parties fairly and impartially. The value to the community of your service as a juror in that effort cannot be overstated. You can go home when your period of duty is over with a sense of an important job well done.
20th Circuit Court/Probate Court
Jury Tap Line: (616) 846-8315 - After 5:00pm
Fax: (616) 846-8138
Term of Service & Reporting Information
If your name has been drawn to serve as a juror in the 20th Circuit Court, Ottawa County, your primary period of jury duty will be two weeks. Based on MCL 600.1341, you may be called in the rare event of an emergency or special need for jury service at any time during a three-month term.
Before your period of service, please refer to the jury trial schedule listed above for trial dates. During your term of service, please call the jury "call-in" system or "tap line". You will also be assigned a juror number. You will be instructed to call the jury tap line (616) 846-8315 EACH NIGHT BEFORE a scheduled jury trial in order to hear whether or not you are required to report for jury duty. You are not required to report unless the recorded message states that you are to appear. When calling the tap line, please have your jury number handy for reference.
If you have a special circumstance which would prevent you from serving as a jury during the period of time that you have been called, you may provide a written request to be excused to the Chief Circuit Court Judge for his consideration.
It is a violation of the law if you fail to appear for jury service. If you fail to appear (FTA), you may be found in contempt of court, the penalty for which may include fines and incarceration.
Requests to be excused from jury duty must be in writing and addressed to:
Chief Circuit Court Judge
Ottawa County Courthouse
414 Washington Avenue, Suite 320
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Fax (616) 846-8138Please include your juror number and contact information in your request for excusal.
58th District Court
Term of Service
If your name has been drawn to serve as a juror for the 58th District Court, your term will be for a three month period. This means you must be available to serve on all of the jury selection dates printed on the Summons you received. If you are chosen to actually serve as a juror on a specific case during jury selection, the judge will announce the scheduled day, date and time for that trial. Thus, by the end of jury selection you will know the exact trial dates and times, if any, you will be required to report for service that month. You may wish to bring your calendar/schedule with you to help determine if you have any scheduling conflicts.
Reporting for Jury Duty
The 58th District Court has three locations. Please make sure you report to the proper location as indicated on your summons. Any questions and/or communications should be directed to that specific location as well.
58th District Court Location Information:
- 58th District Court
414 Washington Avenue, First Floor
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Jury Questions: (616) 846-8292
Juror Attendance: (616) 846-8285 (Call after 5:05 p.m. the night before the service date.)
- 58th District Court
85 W. 8th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Juror Information Line: 616-355-3524
- 58th District Court
3100 Port Sheldon Road
Hudsonville, MI 49426
Juror Information Line: 616-669-1571
If the message on the Juror Information Line indicates that you are required to report for jury service, you must report at the stated time and stated location on your Summons. You must keep your Summons and bring it with you for Scan-In.
If you have special circumstances that would prevent you from serving as a juror, you must provide a written request to be excused to the judge for his/her consideration. Requests to be excused must be mailed or emailed to the location you were summoned to report at.
- 58th District Court
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I am over the age of 70, do I have to serve?
A: If you are over 70 years of age, you have the option to serve or not serve. You must still complete your questionnaire in its entirety and return it in the envelope provided. You will answer the question that asks if you are 70 or over with ‘YES”. Where the question asks if you would like to serve, you will answer “YES” if you wish to serve and “NO” if you do not wish to serve. If you answer “NO”, you will be excused upon notification from the court. Do not assume that you have been officially excused until you receive such notification from jury duty service. As long as you have a valid Michigan diver’s license or Michigan identification care, you will be pre-eligible for jury duty service.
Q: If I am a full-time college student, and I exempt from jury duty?
A: No, college students are not exempt from serving. You will need to show your summons to your professors or instructors and advise them of your upcoming obligation. A jury summons is an official court order with which you must comply. You may request to be excused or to have your jury service deferred to another time. You must make this request in writing as outlined above.
Q: Do the courts provide daycare or transportation?
A: No. You will need to pre-arrange daycare for your service date(s) and arrange for your own transportation.
Q: If I am a stay-at-home parent, can I be excused from jury duty?
A: You may request to be excused or to have your jury service deferred to another time. You must make this request in writing as outlined above.
Q: I am not a United States Citizen. Why was I selected?
A: Anyone with a valid Michigan driver’s license or Michigan identification card is pre-eligible for jury duty service. As a non-citizen, you will not be able to serve as a juror. However, in order to be excused based on this basis, you must provide documentation of your alien status. Acceptable documentation would be: permanent resident Card (Green Card), Passport, or a copy of your Visa (HB1, etc.).
Q: Will I be paid for being a juror?
A: Yes. For the first day of service, jurors are paid $12.50 for a half day (prior to noon) and $25.00 for a full day. Mileage is reimbursed per mile, round trip at the current federal reimbursement rate. Subsequent days of service will pay $20 for a half day and $40 for a full day.
Q: Must my employer pay me while I am on jury duty?
A: Your employer is not required to pay you while on jury service. However, employers are prohibited by law from firing, disciplining, or threatening an employee for serving as a juror.
Q: May I bring my laptop, pager and/or cell phone with me?
A: Yes. However, please turn them off during orientation and prior to entering the courtroom. You will not be allowed to use them during deliberation. The Bailiff will secure them for you during this time.
Q: What do I do if I live in another state for the Winter months?
A: If you are a permanent resident only part of the year, you can be rescheduled to a date when you have returned to Michigan. You will need to request, in writing, to have your jury service date deferred. Your request will be given to the court for consideration.
Q: I am legally blind. Can I still serve on a jury?
A: Absolutely. There are many trials where visual testimony is not presented, in which case you are welcome to serve. If you are not comfortable you need to provide a written request to the court to be excused from jury duty.
Q: My job is too demanding (or, I work in a small office/am self-employed) and I don’t have time to serve on a jury. Do I still have to serve?
A: Yes. A summons is an official court order compelling you to appear for service. The court does understand that every juror has personal or professional obligations that may make jury duty a difficult task to manage. However, jury duty is not an optional experience. If you are selected by the random process, you are required to report as scheduled. There are no categories of employment that result in automatic deferral or excusal. You may submit a written request to be excused from jury duty.
Q: What happens if I do not report for jury duty as summoned?
A: You will be contacted regarding your failure to appear. The Judge will determine if a show cause hearing should be scheduled for you to show cause why you should not be held in contempt of court for failing to appear for jury service. If you fail to appear for a show cause hearing, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and you can be fined and/or sent to jail.
Q: I have recently moved to another county/state. What do I need to do to be excused from service?
A: Please provide us with documentation of your new address, such as a copy of your driver’s license (front and back) showing your address. However, if you do not have your new driver’s license, other forms of documentation are accepted. Please contact the Clerk’s office for examples.
Q: What if personal or religious beliefs prohibit me from passing judgment on others?
A: You are still qualified to serve as a juror. However, when the judge asks if any juror in the courtroom has a particular hardship or concern regarding jury service, you may state your concerns at that time. The judge and attorneys would have the authority to excuse you based on that reason.
Q: I am a smoker. Will I be able to go outside to take a break?
A: No. All Ottawa County facilities are smoke-free environments. You will need to wait until your lunch break to smoke outside and off county property.
The Court prefers that jurors dress in “business casual” attire.
However, jeans are acceptable as long as they are in good condition without holes. Please do not appear for jury service wearing gym clothes or clothing that does not provide adequate coverage (for example: tank tops or shorts).
Should you have a medical condition that requires you to wear comfortable clothing, please feel free to do so.
Additionally, if you need to report to work after being released from jury duty and you are required to wear a uniform at your job, it is perfectly acceptable to appear in uniform.