Jury FAQs

How was I selected for jury service?

Jurors are selected by computer randomization of names from a minimum of two government records including, but not limited to, personal property tax list, voter’s registration list, and driver’s license records.

What constitutes jury service?

There are two ways to complete jury service. The first is to appear in person and serve until you are released, regardless of whether or not you were selected as a juror for a case.  The second is to be summoned and have your service cancelled by the Court.  To find out if your current service has been canceled call the automated message line (417) 256-7505 after 5:00 p.m. the evening before your report date.

How long should I expect to serve on jury duty?

Your term of service is usually a 1 or 2 month period, during which you may be required to report for jury duty multiple times. On the day you are to report, please plan on being at the courthouse the entire day, occasionally after 5:00 p.m. The jury selection process is usually completed in half a day but may take longer in some cases. If you are selected as a juror, the average length of a trial is about 1-2 days.  During the selection process you will be told how long the particular case you are being considered for is expected to last.

Where and when do I report?

Report to the Howell County Courthouse at the West Entrance of the building located at 106 Courthouse, West Plains, MO  65775. Your first report date and time for your 2 month term is printed on the left front of your “Summons For Jury Service” below the bar code and large sized 2 or 3 digit number.  To verify your report date and time call the automated message line (417) 256-7505 after 5:00 p.m. the evening before your scheduled report date.  Report time is typically no later than 8:15 a.m. however, some trials are scheduled at a later time.

What happens if I fail to appear for jury service?

A person who willfully fails to appear for jury service is in civil contempt of court. The Court may issue an order directing the person to a hearing where the person would be required to show good cause for failure to appear as summoned.  If the individual fails to show good cause for failing to appear, the Court may impose a fine for as much as $500 and may order the prospective juror to perform community service for a time no less than would have been spent in jury service.  The juror is also re-summoned for jury service.

Where do I park?

Free parking lots are available in the downtown area (see interactive map below).  Please allow ample time for parking.

How should I dress for jury service?

Appropriate dress is required.  Think business casual.  Jeans are allowed but shorts, tank tops, and graphic tee-shirts are not considered appropriate.  Hats are not allowed in the courtroom. Temperatures in the courtrooms are kept cool and it is recommended that you bring a sweater or jacket with you.

Cell phones, laptops and electronic equipment: are they allowed?

No. Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices are not allowed to be brought into the courthouse/courtrooms. However, they may be left in your vehicle for access during breaks. Keep in mind if you leave the courthouse during a break you will be required to go through security screening before re-entry to any courtroom.

What if there is an emergency and someone needs to contact me?

If someone needs to contact a juror in an emergency, they may call the Circuit Clerk Civil Division at (417) 256-3741, and a message will be delivered as soon as possible by a clerk.

Will the Court pay me for jury service?

You will receive $6.00 plus $0.07 per mile round trip for the first day of appearance, and if selected as a juror an additional $14.00 for each day of service through the end of the trial. A check will be mailed by the Howell County Jury Commission to your address on file, within a week after the completion of the trial.

Will my employer pay me while I am on jury duty?

The law does not require an employer to pay regular wages while an employee is serving on jury duty however some employers do.  We suggest you ask your employer for their jury service policy.

Can my employer penalize me for reporting to jury duty?

No.  Missouri Revised Statute 494.460 prohibits an employer from taking adverse actions against an employee because that employee received or responded to a jury summons.  In addition, an employee may not be required to use available leave for time spent responding to a jury summons, time spent participating in the jury selection process, or time spent actually serving on a jury.

I completed jury service within the last 24 months; do I need to serve again?

No.  If you completed Howell County jury service in the last 24 months you are entitled to be excused. Log into the Show-Me Jury eJuror website at www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror, complete the qualification form and questionnaire, and select Excuse Code “Served within Last 24 Months.”  If you served under a different name or different address please enter that information.  If you would like to serve again you are free to do so by not selecting the Excuse option.

I received a jury summons for someone who doesn’t live at my address.  What should I do?

Please write “Not At This Address” on the summons envelope and return it to us by placing it in the mail.

I received a jury summons for a deceased family member.  What should I do?

Log onto the Show-Me Jury eJuror website at www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror.  Using the nine digit ID on the summons log into the qualification form and affirm that the summoned individual is deceased.

Is there an age limit?

You must be 21 years of age to serve as a juror. Pursuant to Section 494.430 (7) RSMo., Any person who is seventy-five (75) years of age or older may be excused from jury service on petit or grand jury service upon a timely application/request to the court.

I don’t live in Howell County do I still have to appear for jury service?

Only current residents of Howell County are eligible for jury service. If you do not live in Howell County log into Show-Me Jury eJuror at www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror, complete the qualification form and questionnaire, being sure to update your name and address information.  If you enter an email address or cell phone number we will notify you of your disqualification.  DO NOT appear for jury service. Proof of current address will be required.

I am a medical professional must I report for jury service?

Any person licensed as a health care provider as such term is defined in Missouri Revised Statute 538.205, may be excused, but only if such person provides a written statement to the Court certifying that he/she is actually providing health care services to patients, and that the person’s service as a juror would be detrimental to the health of the person’s patients. Use the Show-Me Jury eJuror website at www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror to notify the jury office of your status.

Reporting for jury service would cause a financial hardship for me, my family, my business or my employer.  Can I be excused?

Because of the importance of assuring that individuals from throughout the community participate in the jury process, the Court generally does not excuse individuals based on financial hardship at the initial summons stage of the process.  Instead, hardships are discussed during jury selection for a trial.  If you believe your circumstances fall within the provisions contained in Missouri Revised Statute 494.430 you need to request an excuse on the Show-Me Jury eJuror website at http://www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror.  Be specific and provide information such as business name and type, financial, medical, and/or other proof regarding your hardship.  If postponing your service to a later date would help you to be able to make arrangement you have the right to a one time postponement.  For further information on postponements please see next question and answer.

This is a bad time for me to perform jury duty.  Can I get a postponement?

Yes. If you have not previously been postponed. Upon timely request, individuals scheduled to appear for jury service have the right to postpone the date of their initial appearance for jury service one time.  The postponement date must be between 6 weeks and six months of the original summons date, except in the case of full-time students.  Full-time students of any accredited institution may be postponed up to twelve months from their original summons date.

Because each prospective juror is entitled to only one postponement, you will be required to serve on the date to which you are postponed.  To request a postponement, log onto Show-Me Jury eJuror at www.courts.mo.gov/ejuror, complete the qualification form and questionnaire, select the “Postpone” button on the Jury Homepage, and enter a new report date.  You will receive a new summons approximately three weeks before your new report date.

I am a nursing mother.  Can I be excused?

Any nursing mother, upon her request, and with a completed written statement from her physician to the court certifying she is a nursing mother will be excused.

I am a stay-at-home parent with children that are not yet in school or the caregiver to a disabled person.  Can I be excused?

The Court generally does not excuse individuals based on physical or financial hardship at the initial summons stage of the process.  Instead, hardships are discussed during jury selection for a trial.  If you believe your circumstances fall within the provisions contained in Missouri Revised Statute 494.430 you may request an excuse in writing on the Juror Qualification Form.  Be specific and provide information such as financial, medical, and/or other proof regarding your hardship.  If postponing your service to a later date would help you to be able to make arrangements you have the right to a one time postponement.  For further information on postponements please click here.

Is childcare provided?

No. The Court does not provide childcare services. Please DO NOT bring your child(ren) when reporting for jury service.  Arrangements for the care of your child(ren) should be made prior to reporting for jury service.

Is lunch provided?

Lunch is not provided on the first day of jury selection, however, dinner will be served to those jurors selected should the trial go after 5:00 p.m. If you need accommodation for any special dietary needs, please call (417) 256-3741 at least one week in advance of your report date. Water, coffee, and various soft drinks are provided at no cost for selected jurors in the jury waiting room.  Lunch will be provided for the second and any consecutive days of the jury trial, as well as dinner, should the trial go after 5:00 p.m. You may bring your own lunch if you wish, or you may purchase lunch from either the vending machines or from one of several restaurants located within easy driving distance of the courthouse.  If you choose to bring your lunch DO NOT bring metal cutlery as it will be confiscated by security personnel.