Although I often hear people complain when they get summoned for jury duty it truly is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to participate in our democracy. Our legal system relies on citizen jurors. This is a serious and important civic duty, and it provides the bedrock of justice for everyone. All persons who are accused of a crime or involved in a civil dispute have a constitutional right to have their case decided by a jury.
Each year, the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County sends out jury duty summons to approximately 100,000 citizens. Because the county has a total population of around 446,000 residents, citizens are frequently summoned for jury duty.
The Superior Court handles various types of legal disputes, including:
- Civil law cases
- Criminal cases
- Small claims
- Traffic tickets
- Appeals of small claims cases, infractions, misdemeanors, and civil cases involving $25,000 or less
Santa Barbara Superior Court Juror Requirements
Darrel Parker is Jury Duty Commissioner for Santa Barbara County. He understands that jury duty is an inconvenience for many people. Parker says that all jurors “will be greeted by friendly, understanding people” when they arrive at the courthouse.
Jurors are selected by a random process based on names provided to the county from the DMV data and the Franchise Tax Board. Thus, people who are registered to vote and people with a state driver’s license or identification card may be chosen for jury duty.
People must meet the following criteria to be eligible to serve on a jury:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 18 years old
- Understand English well enough to discuss and rule on a case
- Resident of Santa Barbara County
- Have not served on a jury during the previous 12 months
- Not currently sitting on any Grand Jury or jury trial
- Not under a conservatorship
- Not currently incarcerated
- Not currently on parole, or under post release community supervision, felony probation, or mandated supervision for a felony conviction
- Not legally required to register as a sex offender
- Not been convicted of malfeasance while holding public office
Important Things to Know About Jury Duty in Santa Barbara County
If you are selected for jury duty, you will receive a summons in the mail approximately four weeks before the date when your service is scheduled to begin.
Instead of showing up on your appointed day, you have the option of calling the court in the morning for five consecutive days to see if your presence is required. Whether or not you are called into court during those five days, you will not get assigned jury duty again for at least 12 months.
If you have a valid medical exemption and you are under 70 years old, you must provide a note signed by a doctor stating that you are permanently excused from jury duty. This note must be accompanied by a signed request, your jury summons, and a phone number where you can be reached. If you have a valid medical exemption and you are over 70, a doctor’s note will not be required.
Here is some useful information about jury duty in Santa Barbara County:
- Peace officers are the only citizens who get an exemption based on their employment.
- You may be found in contempt of court for failing to appear and receive a fine of up to $1000.
- You can arrange to postpone your date of service by up to 90 days by mail, voicemail, or visiting the court’s website.
- Starting on the second day of jury duty, you will be compensated a daily rate of $15 and $0.34 per mile traveled.
- You can choose to receive text reminders to show up or to be informed about schedule changes and delays in proceedings.
- You will want to call the courthouse as soon as possible if you have an emergency that prevents you from showing up.
- Wear your badge at all times.
- The judge will inform you about breaks, lunch breaks, and when the court will begin and end.
- Jury trials usually last between one and five days, but they could go longer.
- Business attire is recommended, and beach attire such as tank tops and flip flops is not appropriate.
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