Individuals selected for jury service in the Macomb County Circuit Court are given a handbook of information for jurors. The text of that handbook is reproduced on this page. For ease of navigation, click on the index links below to go immediately to a topic of interest to you.
The Selection Process
You were selected to serve as a juror because you are a Macomb County resident with a driver's license or an identification card issued by the State of Michigan and are not exempt from service. Your selection was randomly made by a computer from the list of resident drivers and people with identification cards. The selection process is overseen by the Macomb County Jury Commission.
Your jury service will be conducted under the direction of Ms. Carmella Sabaugh, Macomb County Clerk. The County Clerk is designated the Clerk of the Macomb County Circuit Court to assist the Circuit Court in many functions, including operation of the jury room.
As a juror, you are eligible to serve on a jury in either the Macomb County Circuit Court, located in this building, or in the Macomb County Probate Court, located on Dunham Road, a short distance away.
The Circuit Court Family Division consists of Circuit Judges Mark S. Switalski, who serves as Presiding Judge of the Family Division, Chief Judge Antonio P. Viviano, Tracey A. Yokich, and Matthew S. Switalski.
The Family Division presides over a number of domestic relations matters which normally do not involve jury trials. However, certain proceedings involving juveniles fall within the Family Division and include jury trials.
The Circuit Court Civil/Criminal Division deals with civil disputes and felony criminal cases. Judge James M. Biernat, Sr. is the Presiding Judge of the Civil/Criminal Division. Judges Peter J. Maceroni, Mary A. Chrzanowski, Donald G. Miller, Edward A. Servitto, Richard L. Caretti, Diane M. Druzinski, and John C. Foster also serve in the Civil/Criminal Division.
The Probate Court deals with cases involving wills and estates and mental health proceedings.
The term of your jury service is either one day or one trial, whichever is longer. If the judges inform the jury clerks that jurors are not needed on a particular day or afternoon, the clerks may be able to release you. "One trial" means that once you are selected for a trial, you will serve for the length of the trial and then will be released. Some trials last only hours, others days. In rare instances, trials can last for months. During the process of jury selection for a particular case, the judge will tell you how long the trial is expected to last. When possible, the judges consider personal hardship due to the length of a trial when selecting a jury.
Once you have completed your jury service, you have satisfied your duty to serve as a juror in the Macomb County Courts for the next twelve months.
Reporting for Duty
PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR JUROR SERVICE NUMBER, which is located on your summons to report. You will be sent to a courtroom identified by this service number.
Jurors report at 8:30 a.m. unless instructed otherwise by the jury clerks or the trial judge. When reporting to the jury assembly room, sign in each day on the sheets located on the counter as you enter. Once you have reported to the jury assembly room, you are not permitted to leave unless authorized by the jury clerks. If illness prevents you from attending, please notify the jury clerks at (586) 469-5158 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Jury trials are normally conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, unless the jury clerks or the judge presiding over your trial tell you otherwise. You will generally be released for lunch at 12:00 noon. You will receive instructions at that time from the jury clerks as to whether you will have to report back to the jury assembly room at 1:30 p.m. or if you are excused for the remainder of the day. Jurors will be released at noon unless it is anticipated that a judge will begin a trial in the afternoon. Check with your employer about returning to work after your jury service is completed for the day.
The volume of cases commenced in this Court is so heavy that it may, at times, cause the inconvenience of delay. The judges encourage litigants to attempt to resolve their differences without the necessity of trial and are reluctant to call for a jury until negotiations have failed. In addition, miscellaneous matters are sometimes simultaneously scheduled. The Court makes every effort to minimize these delays. It may appear to you that the Court is wasting your time by having you wait in the jury assembly room. However, you serve a valuable role in the court system by merely being present. Your availability often results in the settlement of cases without the necessity of trial.
Jurors must furnish their own transportation. Free parking and shuttle service to the court building are available from a Park & Ride lot on North River Road. There are also municipal parking lots within walking distance of the court building. For more information on parking, please call (586) 469-7435. Parking fees or violations are your responsibility.
Jurors are paid $25.00 per full day, $12.50 per half-day, for the first day of service. Subsequent days of service are compensated at the rate of $40.00 per full day and $20.00 per half day. Round trip mileage is paid at the rate of $0.10 per mile. The mileage is automatically computed so it is unnecessary for you to keep a record. Fee and mileage checks will be mailed to you within two to three weeks after you have completed your service. Please make sure your name and address are correctly listed on your summons. Advise the jury clerks of any necessary corrections. Verification of jury attendance will be mailed to you within one week of the completion of your jury duty. It is your responsibility to forward a copy to your employer if your employer requires proof of your jury service.
Beverages and snacks will be made available to you in the jury room, at your cost, from the cafeteria in the court building. Pay telephones and rest rooms are located in the jury room.
In case of an emergency, you should notify the jury clerks or the court officer coordinating the trial. If someone wants to reach you because of an emergency, they may call the jury clerks at (586) 469-5158 to leave a message or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a disability which causes you to need assistance, please contact the jury clerks as soon as possible.
GENERAL RULES OF CONDUCT FOR JURORS
1. Read this handbook: Familiarize yourself with the legal terminology.
2. Be prompt: Please be on time. Allow time for possible travel delays. Report directly to the jury assembly room or to the judge's jury room if you are serving on a trial. One late juror wastes the time of all the other jurors, the judge, the lawyers, the witnesses, the parties and the other court employees. A lawyer, witness or juror may be found to be in contempt of court for being tardy.
3. Sign in: If you are reporting to the jury assembly room, please sign in by the correct number immediately upon your arrival.
4. Dress: You should dress comfortably, but appropriately. Clothing should reflect the dignified atmosphere required in a court room. Tee shirts, shorts, halter-tops, jeans, etc., are not acceptable.
5. Keep valuables with you at all times. The Court is not responsible for lost articles.
6. Juror badges: Juror badges must be worn at all times. Please return your badge to the Jury clerk at the end of each day. If you are serving on a trial, the court officer will collect the jury badges at the conclusion of the case.
7. Lunch hour: Do not consume alcohol or illegal drugs at the noon hour. Jurors should not discuss the case they are hearing while at lunch. Return promptly when directed.
8. Dismissals for the day: Jurors should leave the building together, as quickly as possible. If you are dismissed early, contact your employer to determine whether you should return to work.
9. Cell Phones: Please shut off cell phones and beepers during juror orientation and when you go to court for jury selection.
10. Reading materials, computers, etc.: You are welcome to bring reading material, a laptop computer, a radio with headphones, or other things to quietly occupy your time while you are in the jury room. Portable DVD players and viewing DVD's on laptop computers is allowed in the waiting area of the Jury Assembly as long as headphones are used and the other jurors are not disturbed. Please bring material appropriate for general viewing only. Macomb County is not responsible for DVD equipment brought to the jury room.
JUROR'S CONDUCT DURING A TRIAL
There are certain rules that jurors must follow throughout a trial:
1. Inspecting the scene: It may be that the lawsuit involves some place or thing such as the scene of an accident, the operation of traffic lights, etc. If it is thought necessary and proper for the jury to make an inspection, the judge will send the jury as a group accompanied by the court officer. It is improper for any juror to make an inspection unless ordered by the judge. Conditions may have changed. An unauthorized inspection might force a retrial of the case.
2. Discussing the case: Do not talk with parties, witnesses, court employees, or lawyers during a trial. Although most lawyers and prosecutors are friendly and congenial, private contact or conversation with them during the course of a trial must be avoided. Similarly, you are not to discuss the case with your family, friends, acquaintances. It is not even proper to discuss the case with other jurors prior to deliberation.
If anyone should insist upon talking about the case with you, tell the person that you are on the jury and cannot discuss the case. If the person continues, report the matter to the judge at the first opportunity. Judges often allow jurors to discuss the case with the attorneys after the verdict is rendered and the case is completed. You do not have to speak with the attorneys if you do not want to.
3. Media coverage: Jurors should not listen to radio or television reports concerning the trial or read articles about it which may appear in newspapers. Media presentations sometimes give biased or unbalanced accounts of the case and may contain information that the jury cannot properly hear.
4. Notes: Notes are not to be taken while in the jury box unless you are specifically otherwise instructed by the judge.
5. Lingering in corridors: During the trial, jurors should return to and remain in the jury room adjacent to the courtroom at all times except when they are in the courtroom.
6. Jurors directed out of court by the judge: Occasionally the judge will ask the jurors to leave the courtroom so that legal matters can be discussed with the attorneys concerning the procedures to be used during trial, admissibility of evidence, questions to be asked of a witness, etc. If directed to leave the courtroom, jurors should quietly proceed to the jury room.
7. When in need of assistance: Summon the court officer. You can secure the officer's attention by motioning to him or her or by knocking on the door of the jury room. The court officer can pass a note with a question to the judge but cannot discuss matters with jurors.
8. Guessing at the judge's opinion: While a trial is going on, jurors should not try to guess at what the judge thinks about the case or the way it should be decided. The judge will not intentionally form or express an opinion on questions of fact until all the evidence has been put in and may not then express any opinion on the facts. If the judge has an opinion about the facts and it is one which you ought to know, this will be made plain to you in the directions or instructions given to you before you begin deliberations on the verdict.
Whether you are selected as a juror to hear a criminal case, a civil case or if you are merely available to be selected as a juror, your importance as a juror cannot be overstated. A great many jury cases are disposed of by settlement because you are ready and available.
We hope that your service will be pleasant. Juries in this Court have always given meritorious service. They have set a worthy standard. It is the responsibility of our judges, of you, and of all future jurors to insure the continuance of jury service at that high level.
We hope that all of your questions were answered by this handbook. In the event they were not, or you wish to make a suggestion on how to improve our system, please feel free to discuss them with either the jury clerks or the Court Administrator.