Whether you have recently been chosen for jury duty for the first time or are simply curious about the process, there is a lot of misinformation out there about this important civic duty. By having a better understanding of the truth behind some of the common jury duty myths, you'll be better informed as an American citizen.
Myth 1: Only Registered Voters Are Chosen
Perhaps the most commonly perpetuated myth about jury duty is that people are selected for it based on a list of registered voters. In reality, you don't need to be a registered voter in order to be selected for jury duty—so not registering to vote won't necessarily get you out of being selected, either.
Myth 2: Showing a Bias Will Get You Out of Jury Duty
A lot of times, people who don't want to serve on jury duty assume that if they say something that would implicate a bias during the jury selection process, they will automatically be excused. This is simply not the case, and a lot of times, judges are pretty good about determining when a person is lying in order to try and get of of being selected.
Myth 3: Jurors Have to Reach a Unanimous Verdict
While it's true that a jury needs to reach a unanimous verdict in a criminal trial, this is simply not true of the majority of cases where a jury is formed. Specifically, civil trials do not require a unanimous decision from the jury; instead, only nine of the 12 jurors on a civil case need to agree in order to reach a verdict.
Myth 4: Being on Jury Duty Means Swearing on a Bible
If you are atheist, agnostic, or a religion other than Christian, you will certainly not be required to swear over the Holy Bible as part of your jury service. In fact, most courts these days will only require jurors to raise their right hand in court. It is a very common misconception that jurors are asked to swear over the Bible as part of their service in a jury trial.
These are just a few of the most common myths and misunderstandings when it comes to being selected for jury duty and serving on a jury. By being better informed, you can prepare yourself for the strong possibility that you may be selected for jury duty at least once during your lifetime.