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Jury Service in the United States

01 July 2009

This information appears in the July 2009 issue of eJournal USA, Anatomy of a Jury Trial.”

Estimated number of U.S. jury trials per year: 154,000 (149,000 in state courts, 5,000 in federal courts)

• 66 percent criminal trials (47 percent felony crimes plus 19 percent misdemeanor crimes)

• 31 percent civil trials

• 4 percent other

Source: State-of-the-States Survey of Jury Improvement Efforts (April 2007), National Center for State Courts.

Note: Sum exceeds 100 due to rounding.

Estimated number of people summoned each year in the United States for jury service: 32 million

• Estimated number of summonses returned by the post office marked as undeliverable: 4 million

• Estimated number of people disqualified from service (noncitizens, nonresidents, felony convicts): 3 million

• Estimated number of people exempt from service (people with recent jury service, people in certain occupations): 2 million

• Estimated number of people excused for financial or medical hardship: 3 million

• Estimated number of people “waived off” by the courts before the reporting date because the trials were cancelled or continued to another date: 8 million.

• Estimated number of people who simply fail to appear after being summoned: 3 million

• Estimated number of people reporting for jury service each year: 8 million

• Estimated number of jurors impaneled each year: 1.5 million

Source: State-of-the-States Survey of Jury Improvement Efforts (April 2007), National Center for State Courts.

To be eligible for jury service in most state and federal courts, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the geographic jurisdiction served by the court, age 18 or older, able to speak and understand English, and not under a legal disability (felony conviction or incompetent).

Source: State Court Organization, 2004, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Percent of adult Americans who have served as a trial juror in their lifetime: 29 percent

Source: Jury Service: Is Fulfilling Your Civic Duty a Trial? (July 2004), HarrisInteractive.

Average daily juror pay: $22 (approximately 25 percent of daily per capita income)

Source: State-of-the-States Survey of Jury Improvement Efforts (April 2007), National Center for State Courts.

Average length of jury trial: five days for criminal trials, four days for civil trials

Average length of jury deliberations: four hours for both criminal and civil trials

Source: State-of-the-States Survey of Jury Improvement Efforts (April 2007), National Center for State Courts.

Percent of civil jury trials won by plaintiff: 49 percent (in 2005)

Average amount of damages awarded to prevailing plaintiffs: $28,000 (in 2005)

Source: National Center for State Courts Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, 2005.

Percent of criminal defendants convicted by jury trial: 71 percent

Source: Are Hung Juries a Problem? (September 2002), National Center for State Courts.

Percent of criminal cases that end in plea agreement rather than trial verdict: 69 percent

Percent of criminal cases in trial that are dismissed before jury deliberations: 10 percent

Source: Are Hung Juries a Problem? (September 2002), National Center for State Courts.

Paula Hannaford-Agor at the Center for Jury Studies in the National Center for State Courts compiled this information.