Clerk of Court:
Jacquline D. Wills
Harold R. Banke Justice Center
9151 Tara Boulevard
Jonesboro, GA 30236
Phone: (770) 477-3395
Those serving on Grand Jury are summoned for a period of three months. The Grand Jury meets on Wednesdays during the three month period.
OCGA 15-12-10 states, "If any person is duly summoned to appear as a juror at court and neglects or refuses to appear, or if any juror absents himself or herself without leave of the court, said neglect, refusal, or absence may, after notice and hearing, be punished as contempt of court."
The qualifications of a Grand Juror are outlined in OCGA 15-12-60: "(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, all citizens of this state 18 years of age or older who are not incompetent because of mental illness or mental retardation; and who have resided in the county for at least six months preceding the time of service, shall be qualified and liable to serve as grand jurors unless otherwise exempted by law. (b) The following persons shall not be eligible to serve as grand jurors: (1) Any person who holds any elective office in state or local government or who has held any such office within a period of two years preceding the time of service as a grand juror; and (2) Any person who has been convicted of a felony and who has not been pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored."
The questionnaire that is included with your summons provides our office with the information that is necessary to determine your eligibility. Please complete the questionnaire in its entirety and return to our office as quickly as possible.
If you have been summoned for Grand Jury and you have not resided in Clayton County for at least six months prior to the date you are to report, please complete the questionnaire which was enclosed with your summons and return it to our office. You will not be required to appear at this time.
If you will be out of town or have a conflict for the first date for which you are summoned, you may download an affidavit and complete the portion that pertains to your circumstance. Sign and date the affidavit and have your signature notarized. Submit the original form along with supporting documentation of your conflict to our office. All requests for temporary deferment should be received by our office at least one week prior to your scheduled jury duty. Requests received less than a week prior to your scheduled jury duty may not be considered. You will receive confirmation if your request is granted.
If you will be out of town or have a conflict during the three month term, you may explain this to the court on the first day. In most cases, having prior engagements will not prevent you from being selected to serve because alternates will be chosen to serve alongside the members to fill any vacancies which occur during the term.
If you have a medical condition which would prevent you from serving, our office will need documentation from your doctor. There is an affidavit that you will need to have your doctor complete. Please note: the doctor's signature must be witnessed by someone in his/her office. The affidavit allows the doctor to state their medical opinion as to whether your medical condition is permanent or temporary. Our office will comply with the doctor's medical opinion and either permanently defer you or grant you a temporary deferment.
If you are 70 years of age or older and do not wish to serve, you may request to be permanently deferred. You may download an affidavit and complete the portion for Over 70 Years of Age. Sign and date the affidavit and have your signature notarized. The original form will need to be sent to our office.
If you have been convicted of a felony and your civil rights have not been restored, please complete the questionnaire which was enclosed with your summons and return it to our office. You will not be eligible to serve as a Grand Juror at this time. If you are unsure as to whether or not your civil rights have been restored, you may contact the State Board of Pardons and Paroles in the State where the crime was committed.
Length of Jury Duty
Grand Jurors will serve on Wednesdays for a three month term. Wednesday calendars will vary from week to week meaning that Grand Jurors could be in session for a couple of hours to a full business day.
Compensation For Jury Service
Grand Jurors receive an expense allowance of $25.00 each day that you are required to report to the courthouse. You may opt to be paid weekly, monthly, or at the end of your term. The County Finance Department will mail a check to you according to your preferred schedule of payment. The process of checks being mailed is approximately two weeks from the date you serve. The County Finance Department can be reached at (770)477-3221.
Conflict With Employer Because of Jury Duty
When a person is called for jury service, it is their responsibility to notify their employer of the summons for jury duty. It is at the employer's discretion as to whether the employee receives their normal compensation during jury service or if the employee will not be compensated while they are serving on jury. Some employers choose to compensate their employees as if they were working and then have the employee sign over the check they receive for jury service. The financial arrangement made between the employer and the employee is a private matter and one in which the court has no influence.
Georgia Law does, however, provide protection for an employee who has been called for jury service. OCGA 34-1-3 states, "(a) It shall be unlawful for any employer or the agent of such employer to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee because the employee is absent from his or her employment for the purpose of attending a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty, or other court order or process which requires the attendance of the employee at the judicial proceeding. It shall be unlawful for any employer or the agent of such employer to threaten to take or communicate an intention of taking any action declared to be unlawful by this subsection. (b) Any employer or agent of such employer who violates subsection (a) of this Code section shall be liable to the injured employee for all actual damages thereby suffered by the employee and for reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the employee in asserting a successful claim under this Code section. ( c) This code section shall not apply to an employee who is charged with a crime, nor shall it prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to abide by regulations requiring reasonable notification to an employer of the employee's expected absence or delay in reporting to work in order to attend a judicial proceeding."
What to Bring With You
When appearing for the first day of jury service, you will need to bring with you a picture I.D., such as a driver's license and your jury summons.
What to Expect
You will report to a courtroom on the first day and will need to check in with the clerk. Once the summoned grand jurors are assembled, the District Attorney will give an overview of the Grand Jury and explain the important functions of a Grand Juror. The Presiding Judge will listen to any hardships that prospective jurors may have and will make a determination if those persons will be excused or will be considered for selection.
Twenty-three grand jurors as well as three alternate grand jurors will be selected. Those not chosen will be released. The Presiding Judge will then charge (give legal instruction to) the grand jurors and alternates. At that point, the judge will turn the jurors over to the District Attorney's office. The District Attorney will then take the jurors to the Grand Jury hearing room and give an orientation and answer any questions the jurors may have. At this time, the grand jurors will elect among themselves a Foreperson, Assistant Foreperson, Secretary and a Doorkeeper. All of these roles are vital to the smooth operation of Grand Jury hearings. The grand jurors will then be released for the day and given instructions to report back on Wednesday. The first day of Grand Jury normally lasts just a few hours.
The grand jurors will report to the Grand Jury hearing room on Wednesdays at the time given. It is important to be on time as no one is allowed entry in the hearing room during a hearing. There is a bailiff stationed outside the door and cannot permit any disruptions. The District Attorney's office will prepare a calendar each week of the criminal cases to be heard.
The District Attorney represents the State of Georgia in all cases. The District Attorney's office will present each case one by one and may provide testimony from witnesses. Neither the defense nor their witnesses will appear. Once the case has been presented, the grand jurors will discuss the evidence presented and will vote as to whether the case will receive a "True Bill" (meaning that the evidence seems sufficient to proceed with the prosecution of the case) or a "No Bill" (meaning that the evidence seems insufficient to proceed with the prosecution of the case).
Each Wednesday, those grand jurors who are present will need to sign in on the sheet provided by the Clerk's office. This sign-in sheet is used for payment purposes. The sign-in sheet will need to be signed by at least two officers (Foreperson, Assistant Foreperson, Secretary or Doorkeeper) and must be turned in to the Jury Division in the Superior Court Clerk's office (Room 1JA01) located on the 1 floor. The st completed sign-in sheet MUST be submitted to the Jury Division each Wednesday in order for grand jurors to be paid in a timely manner.
In addition to hearing criminal cases, each term of grand jurors is assigned specific county departments to examine. This may be done by the grand jury as a whole or by a committee comprised of a few grand jurors. The Grand Jury functions independently from any county department; however, the District Attorney and staff are able to provide some guidance if requested.
At the end of the grand jurors' term, they will prepare Presentments. Within this report, the grand jurors will give an account of their findings of the county departments of which they were to study. The presentments may include recommendations, concerns or comments the grand jurors wish to convey. The presentments are signed by the Presiding Judge and a copy is forwarded to all commissioners, judges as well as any department mentioned in the Presentments. Each term of grand jurors is supplied with copies of the previous four Presentments.
Once their term is completed, grand jurors can expect to have a much better understanding of the criminal judicial process as well as the functions of some of the county departments.