Massachusetts Law About Juries and Jury Service
Office of Jury Commissioner. Everything you need to know if you've been summonsed for jury service, as well as an overview of the Massachusetts jury system.
Mass. Constitution Decl. of Rights Art. XII Right to trial by jury in criminal matters.
Mass. Constitution Decl. of Rights Art. XV Right to trial by jury in civil matters.
MGL c. 234A Office of Jury Commissioner
Note: MGL c. 234A, Sections 1 and 2 are currently unavailable at the Mass. Legislature's website, therefore the below sections are provided until such time as they become available on the Legislature's website. All other sections are available at MGL c. 234A
Section 1. Application of chapter to particular counties.
Section 1. This chapter shall apply in every county in the commonwealth which has been designated as a participating county as hereinafter provided. Middlesex county shall be a participating county as of the effective date of this chapter. The supreme judicial court shall designate such further participating counties and the dates on which the various sections of this chapter shall become applicable within such participating counties. The supreme judicial court shall make such designations in a manner that will expand the application of this chapter to all counties in an orderly, prudent, and expeditious manner.
Whenever any section of this chapter shall become applicable within a participating county, all provisions of law which are inconsistent with such section shall cease to be effective within such participating county. Hereinafter in this chapter, the word "county" shall mean "participating county" unless specifically stated otherwise.
Section 2. Judicial districts; eligibility for jury service.
Section 2. The judicial districts for purposes of this chapter shall be the counties unless modified by the supreme judicial court. The supreme judicial court may, by rule of court, define judicial districts for purposes of this chapter which differ in geographical area and population from the counties in accordance with the following principles: a judicial district shall be the geographical area encompassing a designated list of cities and towns; a judicial district may be defined for, or associated with, a single court or court location, or it may be defined for, or associated with, several courts or court locations.
Every citizen shall have the opportunity to serve as a grand and trial juror in at least one judicial district. There shall be no proscription against citizens of certain cities and towns being eligible or subject to perform grand or trial juror service in more than one judicial district.
- MGL c.234A § 4 Disqualification from Juror Service. Reasons a person may be disqualified from serving as a juror.
28 USC 1861 – 1878 Juries; trial by jury
Criminal Jury Instructions on Criminal Responsibility in Cases of Mental Illness and Voluntary Intoxication. See "Appendix" in Commonwealth v. DiPadova, 460 Mass. 424 (2011). Revises the 2010 "Barry Instruction."
Draft Civil Jury Instructions, Judge D. Brock Hornby. "These instructions will be in three parts: first, general rules that define and control your duties as jurors; second, the rules of law that you must apply in deciding whether the plaintiff has proven [his/her] case; and third, some rules for your deliberations."
Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the First Circuit, Judge D. Brock Hornby, 2011.
Butler v. Perry, 240 US 328 (1916). "the Thirteenth Amendment ... was adopted with reference to conditions existing since the foundation of our Government, and the term involuntary servitude was intended to cover those forms of compulsory labor akin to African slavery ... It introduced no novel doctrine with respect of services always treated as exceptional, and certainly was not intended to interdict enforcement of those duties which individuals owe to the State, such as services in the army, militia, on the jury, etc."
Comm. v. Lassiter, 80 Mass. App. Ct. 125 (2011). Held that a jury cannot be called back to re-deliberate once a verdict has been accepted.
Comm. v. Shea, 460 Mass. 163 (2011). Provides a short history of allowing juror note taking, while strongly encouraging note taking to be routinely permitted. "We believe that an accurate memory of detailed facts is as important in a court room as it in a lecture hall or board room, where notetaking is almost invariably permitted. We refer the question whether we should revise our rules to require that jurors be permitted to take notes during some or all trials, or whether we should continue to leave such decisions to the discretion of the judge, to this court's standing advisory committees on the rules of criminal and civil procedure."
Comm. v. Werner, 81 Mass. App. Ct. 689 (2012). Juror use of social media. "More explicit instructions about the use of social media and the Internet may.. be required. Instructions not to talk or chat about the case should expressly extend to electronic communications and social media, and discussions about the use of the Internet should expressly go beyond prohibitions on research. Jurors should not research, describe, or discuss the case on- or off-line. Jurors must separate and insulate their jury service from their digital lives."
Brief Description of the Mass. Jury System. Office of Jury Commissioner.
Court Warns on Jurors' Web Use, Boston.com, May 14, 2012. Explains the holding in Comm. v. Werner, above, in which "the Massachusetts Appeals Court has called on judges to better police jurors’ use of the Internet to make sure they do not discuss cases online, and thus risk a mistrial."
Trial Juror Service, Office of Jury Commissioner.
Trial Juror's Handbook, Office of Jury Commissioner.
Grand Juror Service, Office of Jury Commissioner.
Grand Juror's Handbook, Office of Jury Commissioner.
Federal Jury Duty Information, US District Court, District of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Trial Court Policy on Juror Use of Personal Communication Devices, Mass. Trial Court, 2010. "This policy relates to the use of cell phones and other personal communication devices by jurors in courthouses and courtrooms."
Wood, Pamela J., "Vantage Point: Massachusetts' Leadership Role in the American Jury System," 55 Boston Bar Journal 13 (Spring 2011).
Francis, Philip. How to serve on a jury, Oceana, 1979.
Jury Talk (DVD), LexisNexis, 2006.