Recently, I came home from work and was surprised to see that I had received a petit jury notice in the mail. Yes, lawyers can get called for jury duty too! There are two different types of jury summons issued by New Jersey Courts. Some people receive a “petit” jury summons, while others receive a “grand” jury summons.
I can tell you that there are unique differences between petit and grand jury service. I have tried petit jury cases in both civil and criminal courts. In addition, I previously supervised the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office’s presentation of cases before the Grand Jury. The expressions grand jury and petit jury are both French in origin: “grand” meaning large and “petit” meaning small. The terms refer to the numbers of jurors serving on each jury. There are 23 people who are picked by the Court to serve on a grand jury. The grand jury is part of the criminal justice system. There are 14 jurors who are selected to hear a criminal case and 12 of those individuals will deliberate and render a verdict.
Meanwhile, in a civil case, eight jurors are seated and six of them will decide the outcome. The qualifications for serving as a grand or petit juror are the same. A person must be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, a resident of the county in which summoned, and able to read and understand English. Jurors may not have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of an indictable offense and must be able to physically and mentally perform the functions of a juror.