District Court Jury Information/Juror Questionnaire
Jury Duty Information - District Court
2nd Notice of Jury Service for the term beginning January 1, 2024 and ending December 31, 2024 have been mailed to ALL jurors who failed to respond to the 1st notice. If you receive a 2nd Notice, please complete and return your questionnaire as instructed. As per Montana statute, failure to respond to your notice will result in your name being certified to the Sheriff for service.
SCAM ALERT: THE CLERK'S OFFICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL NEVER CALL JURORS TO DEMAND PAYMENT FOR FAILURE TO REPORT FOR JURY DUTY OR FAILURE TO RESPOND TO A SUMMONS FOR JURY DUTY. IF YOU RECEIVE A CALL OF SUCH NATURE, PLEASE ALERT LAW ENFORCEMENT OF THIS.
JURY SERVICE UPDATES
(Information is updated often with a final update posted the evening prior to the actual trial date. Please check back to verify if you need to report for jury duty and follow the directions given.)
***Please pay close attention to the Department AND Trial Date you are being summoned for when checking the following jury summons updates. Your Department may be found in the upper portion of your summons.***
IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED A SUMMONS FOR:
Department A - The trial scheduled for Monday, November 27th has been continued to Monday, December 11th. Please check back again on Friday, December 8th after 6pm for further instructions.
Department A - The trial scheduled for Monday, December 4th is not going. You do not need to report or check back.
Department B - The trial scheduled for Monday December 4th has been continued to Monday December 18th. Please check back on again on Friday December 15th after 6pm for further instructions.
Department C - The trial scheduled for Monday December 4th is not going. You do not need to report or check back.
Department D - The trial scheduled for Thursday, November 30th has been continued to Tuesday December 12th. Please check back again on Monday, December 11th after 6pm for further instructions.
If you receive a summons and believe service as a juror will entail undue hardship you may complete an Affidavit for Excusal. A person who is chronically incapacitated by illness or injury may request a permanent exclusion from jury service by completing an Affidavit for Excusal. All medically based requests for permanent exclusion MUST include a certification by your physician that you are chronically incapacitated by illness or injury. No request to be excused will be considered without a completed Affidavit for Excusal. You may access the Affidavit by clicking on the link below.
***SERVICE BY THE SHERIFF***
Any Juror that does not comply with a summons to report for jury duty, may be served by the Sheriff. If you fail to appear as summoned, you may be fined in accordance with Montana Law. Our office will never contact you by telephone, email, or regular mail demanding you pay a fee for missing jury duty. If you miss jury duty without being excused by the Court or Jury Commissioner, you may be ordered to appear before a District Court Judge to explain your absence. At this time, the Court may impose a fine.
NOTICE OF JURY SERVICE
NOTICE OF JURY SERVICE LETTERS HAVE BEEN MAILED FOR THE TERM BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 1, 2023 AND ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2023 AND THE TERM BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2024 AND ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2024. IF YOU RECEIVED A NOTICE OF JURY SERVICE YOU ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO RESPOND TO YOUR NOTICE. ALL FAILURES TO RESPOND WILL BE CERTIFIED TO THE SHERIFF, WHO SHALL SERVE THE NOTICE PERSONALLY UPON YOU AND MAKE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO REQUIRE YOU TO RESPOND TO THE NOTICE. TO AVOID THIS FROM HAPPENING, PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN THE QUESTIONNAIRE AS INSTRUCTED. IF YOU HAVE LOST OR MISPLACED YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE YOU MAY CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK FOR ANOTHER COPY OF A QUESTIONNAIRE.
Jury Duty Overview
The right to a trial by jury is the privilege of every person in the United States, whether or not that person is a citizen. This cherished right is guaranteed by both the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Montana. Jury trials cannot be held unless people - citizens of Cascade County, Montana - are willing to perform their civic duty. Jurors are essential to the administration of justice.
Who can I contact with questions regarding my Jury Summons?
Department A/B (406) 454-6782
Department C/D (406) 454-6777
Where is the Courthouse located?
We are located at 415 2nd Ave North, on the second floor of the Cascade County Courthouse.
Jurors can park in the City Parking Garage located on 4th Street and 1st Avenue North. Parking validation will be provided upon check-in.
I'm going out of town...
Jurors can request to be made unavailable for certain times: snowbirds, college students, a scheduled vacation, upcoming doctor appointment, incoming guests, or out of town work. The Courts draw juries approximately 2-3 weeks in advance of the trial so we ask that as soon as you know a date you will not be able to serve on a jury you call the Clerk's office at (406) 454-6777 or (406) 454-6782.
OFFICERS OF THE COURT
Judge: Appointed by the governor or elected by the voters, a judge has the authority and duty to hear and decide questions of the law. The judge functions to provide equal and fair trials.
Attorney: A licensed practitioner of the law, employed either by a party to the case or by the county to prepare and present a case.
Bailiff / Clerk: A court attendant. Compiles official files and exhibits, swears in jurors, maintains records of the court proceedings, maintains order in the courtroom.
Court Reporter: The person who records legal proceedings for the official record of the proceeding.
Interpreter: Interpreters are hired by the court to help translate foreign languages and to aid disabled participants.
Settlement of Cases: The law encourages people to settle their disputes out of court. In fact, lawyers will negotiate right up to the moment the trial begins. The trial may even be delayed while the lawyers try to work out a settlement with the judge in chambers. The lawyers may continue to negotiate out of the jury's hearing, while the trial is in process. As a juror, you will not be told what is happening unless the two sides agree up on settlement terms, in which even the trial will end and you will be dismissed.
Settlement occurs in both civil and criminal cases. In civil cases, lawyers try to reach an agreement which satisfies both sides. This may take the form of a monetary amount which both sides believe satisfies their complaints. In criminal cases, the county attorney, who represents the prosecution, may plea bargain with the defendant. A plea bargain is an agreement between the county not to prosecute by means of a trial in exchange for the defendant's admittance that he or she committed a crime.
Jury Selection: Those summoned for jury duty will be taken into a courtroom. The judge will state the names of the parties in the case and the names of the lawyers who will represent them. The judge also will tell the jurors the subject matter of the case - for example, a driving while intoxicated case, a burglary case, or a civil suit such as an automobile accident.
After introductions, the judge and attorneys will question each of the potential jurors seated. The purpose of this questioning is to find out if that person can be fair and impartial. One of the attorneys may "challenge a juror for cause." This means that the attorney will ask the judge to excuse that particular juror for a specific reason. For example, if a person knows one of the attorneys, that juror may favor one side. Each lawyer has a unlimited number of challenges for cause. This process is called "voir dire."
Each attorney also has the right to a limited number of peremptory challenges. A peremptory challenge means that an attorney, without giving any reasons at all, may ask that a person be excused from the jury. The attorney may make these challenges for most any reason, except if the challenge appears to be motivated by racial or gender discrimination. The opposing attorney will object if he or she believes that the peremptory challenge is not based on acceptable reasons.
After the required number of jurors is selected, the jury panel is sworn in by the clerk.
Opening Statements: First, the attorney for the side bringing the case will tell the jury what he or she intends to prove. In a civil case, this is the plaintiff's attorney; in a criminal case, this is the prosecuting attorney. The attorney for the defense may then make an opening statement or may wait until after the other side presents its evidence.
Presentation of the Evidence: After the opening statement, the side bringing the case - the plaintiff, petitioner, or the state - will present its evidence. There are different ways to present evidence. A party may call witnesses and ask them questions. The attorney for the other side will also ask questions, this is called cross-examination. Each attorney may bring in letters, papers, charts, photographs, or any other exhibit to prove its case.
Before the other side puts on its defense, there may be an interruption in the jury proceedings, when motions will be made. Sometimes the defense will not present evidence, claiming that the plaintiff has not made its case. Usually though, the jury will hear the defense attorney's opening statement, and again listen to witnesses and see exhibits.
Instructions to the Jury: At this point, the judge will instruct the jury on its duties. the judge will tell the jury what law applies to the facts.
Closing Statements: Finally, both attorneys will sum up the case from their perspectives. Taking turns, each will tell the jury what he or she believes the evidence shows and why it favors his or her side. At this point, the bailiff will move the jury into the jury room so the jurors can deliberate and decide on a verdict.
Conduct in the Jury Room: The first motion of business in a jury room is to select one of the jurors as a foreperson. The foreperson leads the discussion and tries to encourage everyone to join the discussion. Every juror should have input; the purpose of these deliberations is to have a robust, uninhibited discussion which will lead to a calm, unbiased reasoning.
In civil cases, it takes three-fourths of the jurors to reach a verdict. In criminal cases, all jurors must agree - the verdict must be unanimous.
The Verdict: Reaching a decision - a verdict- may take a few hours or days. Once the jury has reached its decision, the foreperson will record the verdict on an official form. In turn, the bailiff will inform the judge that the jury is ready, and the jury will return to the jury box.
The judge will ask the jury if they reached a verdict. The foreperson will answer, handing the written verdict to the clerk. The clerk will read the verdict aloud, mark the record accordingly and ask, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is this your verdict?" The jurors should reply to the question by answering "yes" or "no."
Sometimes one of the parties will ask that the jury be polled. This means that the clerk will ask each juror individually if this is his or her own verdict. the jury's service will then be complete.