Jury Duty

A Quick Guide for Augustana Students

Jury duty is an important consequence of the American right to a trial by one’s peers. Serving on a jury can be time consuming, a feature that can adversely affect many student’s learning. If you have any questions regarding the jury summons you received, call the clerk of courts office of the county which sent you the summons.

Each state has different policies which guide jury selection and exceptions and every court jurisdiction may have additional exceptions or protocols. The most important step to take is READ the summons word for word and follow the directives. The summons should include contact information if you need to submit a request to be dismissed from jury duty.

The good news is if your summons is from Minnehaha or Lincoln County (SD) being a college student acts as an exemption, BUT YOU NEED to follow the directive on the summons to let the court know you are a student. Below is more information regarding jury duty.

Who can be called to serve?

Juries are composed of citizens residing within the jurisdiction of a court of law. Using voter registration records and driver’s licensing data, a random sample of citizens will be called to serve on a jury. Of those called, only a small fraction will serve.

The lists of those eligible to serve are updated annually, and it is common for individuals to be called who are no longer eligible due to changing residences.

Anyone who is no longer residing in a court’s jurisdiction cannot be called to serve on a jury.

Who does not have to serve?

There are many means to be excluded from jury duty students may take advantage of. In Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties, official policy is to exempt college students from service. Additionally, those who have served on a jury in the past two years in those two counties can be exempted from serving on a jury.

Anyone who is not a citizen of the United States, as well as those not residing in a court’s jurisdiction, are exempted from service. Additionally, literacy and understanding of English is required for service.

Exemptions, in South Dakota, have been known to be granted for those with valid religious reasons or health concerns, parents of children under one year old, or those felons who have not been returned their civil rights. Any other factors will be considered on an individual basis by the presiding judge. Exceptions have been granted to those who would be financially unable to serve.

In any case, if you think you qualify for an exemption you need to contact the clerk of courts in the county you are being called to serve in.

What if a student wishes to serve?

The most commonly imagined jury is the Petit Jury, which determines the innocence or guilt of an individual charged with a crime. Service on a Petit it Jury lasts a month, with jurors checking weekly to determine if they have been called to serve on a case. Those jurors are compensated for their time.

A grand jury is the other form of jury, and they determine whether to convict an individual of a crime. Serving on a grand jury is an 18 month affair, with jurors reporting monthly to determine service.

Time commitments to either jury vary too greatly to ascertain any number for time commitment.

For more information:

SD Jury Duty Website

SD Unified Judicial System Website

Minnehaha Co. Clerk of Courts: 
(605) 367- 5900

Lincoln Co. Clerk of Courts:
(605) 987-5891