Each year the Madison County Clerk of District Court provide Justice Court with a list of potential jurors. This list is randomly selected by computer from the rolls of voter registration. Justice Court sends potential jurors a questionnaire and notice that they are on call for the next 12 months and may be summoned to Court to serve as a juror during this time. It is important to return the questionnaire. A potential juror may or may not ever be summoned for jury service and a person who serves as a juror will not be summoned to serve more than once during the 12-month period.
The Judge will excuse potential jurors who have a physical or mental disability. The Judge may also grant a postponement of jury service if service would result in an unnecessary hardship or inconvenience. Any hardship or inconvenience must be real. Postponements are not common. Jury service is a solemn obligation and a burden of citizenship. A person cannot avoid this responsibility simply because it is inconvenient. Any claimed hardship must be real and substantial. A person who fails to appear when summoned could be subject to a Contempt charge and fine.
A potential juror should let their employer/teachers know they are "on call" for jury service, but should not take time off from work or school until having been summoned to appear in Justice Court.
When a jury panel is needed, approximately 24 persons from the potential juror list will be summoned to Court. From those summoned, six jurors and possibly one alternate will be chosen to hear the case.
Justice Court jury trials usually are completed in 1 day. Two-day trials are rare.
If a person receives a summons to appear for jury duty, the notice will advise of the date and time of the trial. It is important to arrive at the Courthouse on time. One person arriving late can hold up a trial and inconvenience many people.
Cases often settle just prior to trial. The Court will try to notify those persons who have been summoned, however persons should call the Court the day before trial to confirm the need to appear, at 406-843-4237.
Persons must wear appropriate attire; shorts or tank tops are prohibited. Food and drinks are prohibited in the Courtroom.
Montana law sets the compensation and mileage rate for juror and potential jurors. For questions about jury service, call 406-843-4237.