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Court Leave

Definitions

Court leave is an approved absence from official duties, without loss of or reduction in pay or leave, and is provided to an employee who is summoned, in connection with a judicial proceeding, to:

  • Perform jury duty in a federal, state, or municipal court; or
  • Serve as a witness, in a nonofficial capacity, for the United States, the District of Columbia, or a state or local government.

A witness is a person who appears before a court or other public body to testify or to produce evidence.

Summoned does not connote any necessity for a subpoena, but does intend that the summons be an official request, invitation, or call, evidenced by an official writing from the court or authority responsible for the conduct of the judicial proceeding, thus ruling out strictly voluntary appearances from court leave coverage.

Judicial proceeding means any action, suit, or other proceeding of a judicial nature, including any condemnation, preliminary, informational, or other such proceeding, but does not include an administrative proceeding.

Eligibility for Court Leave

Both permanent and temporary employees, and both full-time and part-time employees with a regular tour of duty, are entitled to court leave.

Substitute, part-time or intermittent employees without a regular tour of duty are not entitled to court leave. However, an employee appointed on a part-time or intermittent basis, who has a regularly scheduled tour of duty, may be granted court leave for jury duty or witness service performed during his or her tour of duty, where the employment covers a protracted period under a continuing, established work schedule.

Employees such as substitute, part-time or intermittent employees without a regular work schedule, may be granted any annual leave to which they are otherwise entitled, or may be granted leave without pay, for any absence from duty for jury duty or witness service.

If an employee's absence is properly chargeable to court leave, he or she may not elect at the time, or at a later date, to have the absence charged to annual leave.

Court Leave for Jury Duty

The Department, as an employer, shall not request that an employee be excused from jury duty or be granted a deferment from jury duty, except in cases of genuine emergency. Excuse from jury duty shall not be requested when a deferment will satisfy the operating requirements of the Department.

In cases of genuine necessity, the head of the operating unit, or his or her designee, may write directly to the court requesting that the employee be excused from jury duty, or that the jury duty be deferred.

An employee, however, may request exemption from jury duty for compelling personal reasons on his or her own initiative.

Granting court leave for jury duty. Court leave shall be granted to an eligible employee for absence during the employee's regularly scheduled tour of duty, including regularly scheduled overtime, to perform jury duty. Court leave shall be granted only for those days and hours an employee would otherwise be in a pay status.

An employee on annual leave who is called for jury duty is entitled to have otherwise proper court leave substituted for annual leave (27 Comp. Gen. 83, 88).

An employee on annual leave under advance notice of separation due to a reduction in force who is summoned as a juror is entitled to have otherwise proper court leave substituted for annual leave. The court leave may not extend beyond the date administratively fixed for separation (27 Comp. Gen. 414).

An employee on leave without pay, although otherwise eligible, may not be granted court leave when called to jury duty (27 Comp. Gen. 83, 88).

A night-shift employee who performs jury duty during the day may be granted court leave for his or her regularly scheduled night tour of duty (29 Comp. Gen. 427).

An employee who performs duty for a full workday and then sits on a grand jury in the evening, may be granted court leave on the following day to the extent necessary to relieve hardship (B-70371, August 5, 1975).

An eligible employee who is under proper summons from a court to serve on a jury shall be granted court leave for the entire period of such service. The period of court leave extends from the date on which the employee is required to report to the court until the time he/she is discharged by the court (20 Comp. Gen. 131).

The term of jury duty, however, does not include time during which the employee is excused or discharged by the court for an indefinite period subject to call by the court or for a definite period

in excess of one day. Therefore, court leave may not be granted covering such a period (20 Comp. Gen. 181; 26 id. 413). Employees may be required to contact their supervisors upon notification by the court of being excused or discharged. It is within the administrative discretion of the agency to require an employee to return to duty or be charged annual leave if he or she is excused from jury duty for one day or even a substantial part of a day.

If an employee on court leave for jury duty outside the commuting area is excused for an indefinite period or dis-charged by the court, the travel time necessary for return to duty will be considered as court leave.

Similarly, an employee excused by the court for definite short periods of time (usually one day or less) may be continued on court leave if the leave-approving official determines the expense, distance or time involved in travel would make it impractical or create a hardship for the employee to return for duty during such periods (46 Comp. Gen. 413).

For an employee to be granted court leave for jury duty, he or she must submit to his or her supervisor the order or subpoena which requires attendance in court.

In addition, upon return to the duty site, the employee must submit a certificate of attendance in court signed by a clerk of the court or other appropriate official. Based upon the evidence submitted, it is incumbent upon the leave-approving official to determine to which leave category(ies) an employee's absence will be charged.

Pay status during court leave for jury duty. Since it is mandated by statute that the compensation of an employee shall not be reduced because of jury duty, employees granted court leave for jury duty are entitled to the same compensation they would otherwise have received, including any premium pay and differentials (31 Comp. Gen. 173; 23 id. 904).

A night shift employee who performs jury duty during the day is entitled to receive payment of night differential for his or her regularly scheduled night tour of duty (29 Comp. Gen. 427).

An employee with a regular tour of duty which includes Saturdays, Sundays, or both, who serves on a jury for five weekdays, may be granted court leave and paid premium pay and differentials for the weekend days which are a part of his or her regular tour of duty.

In addition, an employee should not be expected to perform regular duties on weekends while on jury duty for five weekdays. However, if an employee is excused from jury duty on a weekday, he or she should work a weekend day in place of excused jury duty if no hardship is involved. (54 Comp. Gen. 147).

Court Leave to Serve as a Witness

Granting Court Leave to Serve as a Witness. Court leave shall be granted to an employee who is summoned to testify in a nonofficial capacity (a) on behalf of a state or local government

or (b) on behalf of any party in connection with any judicial proceeding to which the United States, the District of Columbia, or a state or local government is a party.

When an employee has been called to give a deposition (even though he/she may not have received an actual summons) or is summoned to testify in a case in which a party in the proceeding is the United States, the District of Columbia, or a state or local government, the employee is entitled to court leave for the time involved in giving a deposition or witnessing. However, the period does not include time testifying in his or her own behalf. The time the employee spends testifying in his or her behalf does not meet the requirement of having been "summoned" within the meaning of Section 6322 of Title 5, U.S.C.

An employee who is summoned to court for a traffic violation is not entitled to court leave in connection with his or her appearance in court as a defendant. An employee summoned to provide testimony in a nonofficial capacity in a proceeding to which neither the United States, the District of Columbia, nor a state or local government is a party, is not eligible for court leave.

If an employee is a party in a suit against the Government (i.e., plaintiff), the time the employee spends in preparation for the trial, including answering the government's interrogatories, and the time the employee spends observing the conduct of the trial is not included within the meaning of "witness" and does not qualify for court leave.

An employee who is not summoned as a witness but who appears before the court voluntarily and requests to testify is not entitled to court leave or to payment by the agency of any travel expenses, mileage, or other fees (9 Comp. Gen. 255).

Official duty. An employee who is summoned or assigned by his or her agency to testify in his or her official capacity or to produce official records on behalf of any party in any judicial proceeding is considered in an official duty status. The employee is entitled to his or her regular compensation for the period involved and is not entitled to court leave.

An employee is considered to be a witness in an official capacity when called as a witness in his or her official capacity in a former position held in the Federal services, as well as when called as a witness in the official capacity of the employee's current position.

When an employee is a plaintiff against a Federal agency in a civil action related to, or caused by, a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the employee-plaintiff prevails in the civil action, the employee should not be charged with leave. The employee is entitled to official time for the period of attendance in court. If the employee does not prevail in such a civil rights action, the related absences should be charged to the appropriate leave category. Of course, the final determination as to whether the absence of an employee-plaintiff in a civil rights action can be treated as official duty cannot be made until the conclusion of the court action. Until then, the absence must tentatively be recorded as annual leave, use of accrued compensatory time, or leave without pay, as appropriate.

Pay status during court leave for witness service. Since it is mandated by statute that the compensation of an employee shall not be reduced because of testifying, employees granted court leave for witness service are entitled to the same compensation they would otherwise have received, including any premium pay and differentials.

Fees for Jury Duty or Witness Service

Jury duty fees. An employee whose compensation and leave are protected by law from reduction on account of jury duty, is prohibited from receiving compensation for such service in any court of the United States for any period of jury duty for which the employee would have been in a pay status in his or her Federal position.

The prohibition of 5 U.S.C. 5537 against employees eligible for court leave receiving compensation for jury duty in addition to their regular compensation does not preclude allowing such employees to keep court-paid expenses such as mileage payments, meals, and lodging. It does, however, preclude payment of a fee/ salary (e.g., per diem allowance) for each day's attendance in court and for any travel time involved (20 Comp. Gen 145).

An employee who is in a nonpay status during a period of jury duty is entitled to keep the fees/salaries for each day's attendance in court and for the time necessarily occupied in going to and from court (20 Comp. Gen. 276).

An employee who performs jury duty on a nonworkday outside his or her regular tour of duty, or on a holiday within the employee's basic tour of duty (provided that, had the employee not been on jury duty, he/she would have been excused from regular duties on the holiday), is entitled to keep the fees/salaries for such service (37 Comp. Gen. 695).

An employee who performs jury duty outside of work hours so that no court leave is involved is entitled to keep jury fees/salaries (36 Comp. Gen. 378). However, an employee who sits on a grand jury in the evening following a full day's work and who is granted court leave the following day to relieve any hardship, is entitled only to keep a pro rata portion of the grand jury fee to the extent that hours of actual service exceeds hours of court leave granted (B-70371, August 5, 1975).

When jury duty overlaps normal work hours, an employee is entitled to keep a proportionate part of the jury fee or salaries for each hour of jury duty performed outside of the hours of duty the employee otherwise worked or would have been required to work. Any jury duty fees and salaries payable to the employee shall be based on the statutory jury duty fee, prorated over a standard eight-hour workday; i.e., one-eighth of the statutory fee for each hour of jury duty outside of the hours the employee worked or would have worked but for the jury duty. If a presiding judge at his or her own discretion authorizes a retroactive increase in jury fees for jurors in cases extending beyond 30 day's duration, the actual fee paid will be the basis for computing the employee's entitlement to compensation. In computing the excess hours of jury duty over the number of employee's working hours in a day, fractional hours shall be rounded off, one-half hour or more being considered one hour. When the end of an employee's working day coincides with the beginning of jury duty, there is no necessity to prorate the fee. Any travel time between the duty station and the court is considered court leave (55 Comp. Gen. 1264).

An employee who is paid jury fees/salaries for periods of recess from a court, and returns to and performs the regular duties of his or her position, is entitled to keep the jury fees/salaries received for the period of time that he or she was on duty.

Fees or salaries received by an employee for jury duty during a period of time for which the employee is entitled to court leave must be credited against the amount of compensation payable to the employee by the Department. An employee called to jury duty should be instructed to collect the usual fees/salaries paid to jurors. Upon return from jury duty, the employee also must be instructed to remit the collected fees to the Department through his or her administrative officer or personnel office, or make arrangements to have the amount collected by salary offset.

Employees who waive or refuse to accept the authorized jury fees/salaries are, nevertheless, required to have their Federal position salaries reduced by the amount of the authorized fees (43 Comp. Gen. 672).

If the amount of jury fees or salaries received by an employee exceeds the amount the employee would otherwise have been paid in his or her Federal position for the period of court leave, the employee is entitled to keep the amount which is in excess of his or her Federal compensation (29 Comp. Gen. 302).

Where a court provides a juror reimbursement of expenses at a fixed or varying rate, such monies are not considered jury fees or salaries. An employee is entitled to keep such monies as an expense allowance. Where an employee has inappropriately turned in expense money received from a court, he or she is entitled to a refund from the appropriation into which such monies were de-posited (B-183711, October 6, 1976).

An employee who is not eligible for court leave, such as an intermittent, part-time or substitute employee without a regular work schedule, may keep any compensation for jury duty, including fees/salaries (e.g., per diem allowance) for each day's attendance in court (27 Comp. Gen. 54).

Witness Service Fees. An employee who testifies on behalf of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia is not paid witness fees, except that an employee on leave without pay for the entire period of witness service on behalf of the Federal government may accept and retain witness fees (10 Comp. Gen. 329).

An employee who serves as a witness on official duty or on court leave other than on behalf of the United States or the District of Columbia, is required to collect the authorized witness fees and allowances for expenses of travel and subsistence. All amounts so collected should be credited to compensation payable to the employee by the Department, except that travel and subsistence expenses (not to exceed actual expenses) may be kept by the employee if not paid by the agency.

If an employee testifies in a nonofficial capacity on behalf of a private party in a proceeding to which the United States or the District of Columbia is not a party, the employee is entitled to keep the usual fees and expenses related to such service.

Travel Expenses. An employee who serves as a juror while on court leave is not entitled to be reimbursed by the Department for travel expenses. However, the employee is not required to remit to the Department that part of the compensation received from the court to cover travel expenses where it is clear that a specific amount is received for travel expenses rather than for juror fees or salaries (52 Comp. Gen. 325). Absent evidence that a specific amount is intended as reimbursement for transportation expenses, the amount received as jury fees/salaries must be credited against compensation payable.

An employee who appears as a witness when such service is part of his or her official duty is entitled to travel expenses. Payments shall be at rates and in amounts allowable for other purposes under law and regulation, except to the extent that travel expenses are paid to the employee by the court, authority, or party which caused him or her to be summoned as a witness on behalf of a party other than the United States.

Employee Absences For Court For Court-Relate Service

Type of Service

Type of Absence

Fee Retention or Not

Travel Expenses

Jury Service:

    (a) US or DC Court

    (b) State/local

Court Leave Court Leave

No

Yes* (turn into agency)

No

No

Witness Service

    (a) On behalf of State or DC Government

    (b) On behalf of State or local government in official capacity

    (c) On behalf of State or local government but not in an official capacity

    (d) On behalf of private party in official capacity

    (e) On behalf of private party that is U.S., D.C., State or local government but when not in an official capacity

    (f) On behalf of private party that is not U.S., D.C., State or local government but and when not in an official capacity

Official Duty

Official Duty

Court Leave

Official Duty

Court Leave

Annual leave or LWOP

No

Yes* (turn into agency) Yes* (turn into agency)

Yes* (turn into agency)

Yes* (turn into agency)

Yes

Yes*

Yes*

No

Yes*

No

No

*Government travel expenses are paid but are offset to the extent paid by the court, authority, or party which caused the employee to be summoned.