Jury Duty

Information on Jury Duty in Massachusetts

According to the Office of Jury Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Every U.S. Citizen 17 years of age or older who is a Massachusetts resident or an inhabitant for more than 50% of the time is eligible to serve as a juror.  If you are a resident of another state but a student at a Massachusetts college, you are an inhabitant for more than 50% of the year and, therefore, eligible to serve as a juror in Massachusetts. ”

It is not unusual for students residing in Berkshire County to be summoned to serve as trial jurors.  Jury service, on a short-term basis, can provide students with a good opportunity to fulfill one of their important responsibilities as members of the community.  Williams College supports students in their fulfillment of this civic duty.

Students should carefully read all materials they receive with their summons to service, which contain helpful information about confirming, postponing, rescheduling, or relocating service, and address many of the most frequently asked questions.  Jury duty is an important legal obligation, and those who fail to respond are subject to criminal prosecution.

Students who must miss class in order to fulfill their jury service requirement should notify each of their instructors of the summons and make arrangements to complete any missed work. The Dean’s Office will be able to assist you in making arrangements for missed class time due to jury service.  Students may be required to furnish their summons notice or the certificate of service when making these arrangements.

If you have any questions about jury duty, including confirming, postponing, rescheduling, or limiting your service, please contact the Office of Jury Commissioner (l-800-THE-JURY/1-800-843-5879). Further information can be found on the Office of Jury Commissioner’s website at www.massjury.com

* It may be possible for you to request a change from the Pittsfield to North Adams Court (i.e., transportation is a hardship for you, etc.) by calling the Jury Commissioner’s Office  (l-800-THE-JURY/1-800-843-5879).


Part A.  Students exempt from jury duty in Massachusetts.

You are exempt from jury duty if any one of the following conditions are true.  Note that if you are exempt, you still need to return your forms indicating to the Jury Commissioner the reason(s) for your exemption.

  1. You are under 18 years old.
  2. You are not a U.S. Citizen.
  3. You have served on a jury (anywhere in n the U.S.) within the past 3 years.
  4. You have committed a felony in the past 7 years.
  5. You will not be residing in Massachusetts for 50% of the calendar year.  This means that any senior leaving the state by July 1 is exempt.  (Indicate this exemption by checking box #5).  Note junior year abroad students are not exempt and must serve jury duty.

Part B.  Students Who are Not Exempt –How to Plan for Jury Duty

  1. Choose a day that is convenient for you.  You are allowed one automatic postponement of up to a year.  Keep in mind that 95% of jurors serve 3 days or less and it is most probable that you will only have to serve 1 day.  This is because even if you do have to appear in court, you may not get selected as one of the jurors.  In addition, at the judge’s discretion you can be dismissed from serving on trials lasting for more than one day.
  2. If you are on standby status, call the Courthouse in Pittsfield after 3 p.m. the day before you are scheduled to serve.  Ninety-nine percent of potential jurors in Berkshire County are placed on standby status.  Notification of status is through the mail about one week before your scheduled date.  If you are placed on standby, call the Courthouse the day before your are scheduled to serve to see if it is necessary for you to appear in court.  If you are not needed, you do not have to go to Pittsfield and you will have satisfied the jury duty requirement for one year.  If you are needed, you will have to go to Pittsfield (see below).  If you do not receive standby notification, you will automatically have to appear in court on your scheduled date.
  3. Arrange for transportation to Pittsfield.  You will need to be at the Courthouse at 8:30 a.m. for an orientation meeting (a 20-30 minute film and brief explanation of procedures).  Following this orientation you will have a chance to request that the judge limit your service to one day.  (You might explain to the judge that you are a full-time student with a difficult schedule, transportation difficulties, grade problems, etc., – if applicable.)
  4. If you have further questions contact the Dean’s Office or call the Office of the Jury Commissioner (1-800-843-5879) or Pittsfield District Court, 43 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA (clerk’s office 413-442-5468).