Jury Service is a serious responsibility of citizenship. It is often an inconvenience and is a sacrifice of your time. The Ottawa County Common Pleas Court appreciates and recognizes this, as justice cannot function without your service.
If your name is drawn for jury service in the Common Pleas Court, the term will last for 4 months. You do not need to report to the court during this entire time period, as you only report if you receive a summons in the mail with a trial date. During the jury service time period, it is normal to be called one or two times. Jury trials typically last no more than 3 days, although they can go for longer. Jurors are drawn for service based on public records available through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Board of Elections records.
You may bring a drink and/or snack if you wish. You may also want to bring reading materials or other items to occupy your time during breaks.
Excusals and Postponements from Jury Duty
If you need to be excused from jury duty, all excuses must be made at least one (1) week in advance of service. All jurors must be excused by the Common Pleas Judge. Please submit a request in writing to the attention of the Court Administrator, 315 Madison Street, Room 301, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452, by fax to 419-734-6852 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Court Administrator may be reached by phone at 419-734-6791. The Court will grant excused absences in the following circumstances, only:
- Extended absences from Ottawa County (service in the armed forces, attendance at out-of-area school, etc.), or you from Ottawa County
- Illnesses and conditions that require the care of a physician the potential juror is scheduled to appear and/or would expose the potential juror to undue risk or hardship
- Jurors aged 75 and older can request solely based on age
- Full-time student status
Jurors are typically only excused from a trial in which they have received a summons. In rare circumstances, jurors can be excused from the entire term.
If you are summoned to appear for a jury trial and do not meet criteria for an excusal, your jury service can be postponed one (1) time only. All requests for postponement must be made at least two (2) business days in advance of service. All jurors must be approved for postponement by the Common Pleas Judge. Please submit a request in writing to the attention of the Court Administrator, 315 Madison Street, Room 301, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452, by fax to 419-734-6852 or by email at email@example.com. The Court Administrator may be reached by phone at 419-734-6791.
In addition, in order to have service postponed, jurors must agree to serve a future specified date within the current year. Subsequent postponements will not be granted, unless extreme circumstances exist. Extreme circumstances can include death in the family, scheduled vacations, or any other reason that is deemed extreme at the discretion of the Judge.
Inclement Weather Policy
The Ottawa County Court of Common Pleas is not open during a Level 3 Snow Emergency and all jurors summoned to appear for trials scheduled to begin on the day of a Level 3 Snow Emergency do not need to report for jury duty.
In addition, the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court reports closings to local news and media outlets. If the Court is closed on the date you are summoned to appear, you do not need to report for jury duty.
Jury questionnaires are issued by the Clerk of Courts. You will receive a questionnaire when your name is drawn for jury duty and when you receive a summons to appear for a trial. Questionnaires are to be returned to the Clerk of Courts.
Reporting to Jury Duty
The courthouse is located at 315 Madison Street, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452. The entrance to the building is in the back of the courthouse off the parking lot, which is located at the corner of Jefferson Street and East 4th Street. Limited parking is available in the lot, and is also available on the street.
All potential Jurors are required to arrive no later than 8:15 am. When you arrive for Jury Service, exit the elevator on the third floor of the Courthouse and turn left, reporting to the office of the Clerk of Courts, Room 106B. Staff with the Clerk of Courts will sign you in and direct you to the main courtroom, Courtroom 1. Please be seated in the courtroom and do not wait in the hallway. Food and beverages are not allowed in the courtroom.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. you will be shown a 15 minute video or presentation explaining the nature of Jury Service and the Jury Selection process. We will make every effort to begin trial at 9:00 a.m. If there are delays, you will be notified by staff. The video can be viewed ahead of time here:
All persons and personal items are screened before entering the courthouse. No guns, knives, pepper spray, or any other object constituting a weapon is permitted in the building. Items that are assessed to be a weapon are held at the screening area and can be returned to you when you leave the building. All items are logged by security personnel. It is your responsibility to ask for the item when you leave.
What to Expect During Jury Duty
The Common Pleas Court of Ottawa County has trials for both criminal and civil cases. Criminal cases are felony-level and civil cases can include, but are not limited to, contract disputes, property disputes, and personal injury cases.
Trials typically last no more than 3 days, but can last longer. At the commencement of the trial, you will be provided with a tentative timeline and notified of any changes by staff. Typically, you will arrive to the courthouse at 8:30 am and leave by 4:30 pm while the trial proceeds.
During the trial, you are permitted to take notes. You are not permitted to discuss the case with any family members or friends. In addition, you many only discuss the case with other jurors while in deliberation. You are also prohibited from discussing the case on social media. Cases can only be decided based on the evidence presented in court, and you are not permitted to conduct your own investigation during the trial. You will be given further instructions from the Judge at the time of service.
You will be provided with a juror badge and will be expected to wear it at all times. Coffee and light snacks will be provided for you during the trial. Jurors will be responsible for all meals that take place outside of deliberation. You will be provided with breaks throughout the trial and may want to bring your cell phone or other form of entertainment. The Court does currently have public access to Wi-Fi.
There is no dress code for Jury Duty, but business casual attire is preferred. Feel free to wear clothing that is comfortable and appropriate for a court of law. Temperatures can fluctuate and it recommended you bring a jacket or sweater. Hats are not permitted in the courtroom.
Work verification will be provided to jurors upon request. Jurors can request that a verification form be prepared when they check into the Clerk of Courts. Work verification will be provided for each juror upon completion of jury service. The form will include each day that the juror reported for service.
Employers must allow employees time off to serve jury duty. It is against the law to terminate or threaten to terminate employees who are summoned to jury duty. Current law does not require employers to continue to pay employees their wages while they are serving jury duty.
You will receive compensation for jury duty in the amount of $15.00 per day for your participation if you are not selected to be a juror. If you are selected to be on a jury, you are paid $30.00 per day for each day of service. Checks are paid on a monthly basis through the Court. Depending on the date (s) you served, you will receive your payment by the end of the next month following your service.
Failure to Comply
A summons for jury duty is a court order. Failure to respond to the summons and report to jury duty without an excuse from the Court is a violation of that court order. Any person who violates a court order can have a warrant issued for their arrest and can be brought before the Judge on contempt of court proceedings. If an individual if found in contempt by a Judge, the Court may impose a fine and/or sanction.
Grand Jury Service
A Grand Jury is a special jury under the charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ottawa County. The term of service for the Grand Jury is 4 months and jurors meet approximately twice each month during the term of service. The Grand Jury is drawn for service based on public records available through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Board of Elections records. All questions, concerns, or issues regarding the Grand Jury can be directed to the Prosecutor’s Office by mail at 315 Madison Street, Second Floor, Port Clinton, Ohio, 43452. The office can also be reached by phone at 419-734-6845, by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at 419-734-3862.
The Grand Jury is responsible for determining whether a person should be tried for a felony-level crime. The Grand Jury is presented with evidence and witness testimony by the Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney. The Grand Jury and must determine if an individual will be indicted on formal charges based on only this evidence, allowing the case to proceed. The following video can be viewed ahead of time: