How to Avoid Serving on a Jury: the Definitive Guide

There aren't many of us who get giddy when we get a letter in the mail that says "summons" on it. You never know when that dreaded letter may arrive in the mail because the process of jury summonsing is designed to be as random as possible. To your relief, it is possible that you will not need to make any changes to your schedule just yet. There are realistic options available to you that will allow you to avoid serving on the jury.

In case you hadn't guessed it already, this guide isn't going to spend much time discussing the finer points of civic responsibility. Let’s assume you’re an upstanding citizen who has a very noble reason for getting out of your jury summons In addition, the consequences of lying to avoid serving on a jury can result in severe fines or even criminal contempt charges, with the possibility of serving time in jail for the offense. Now that that's out of the way, let's go over all the legitimate ways you can get out of serving on a jury.

Arguments of a pragmatic nature that can be made to avoid serving on a jury

Start by considering anything that prevents you from being physically present for duty or that indicates you would not be able to be an impartial juror if you want to find a legitimate way out of your summons. This is the best place to start when trying to find an escape clause.

If any of the following explanations apply to your circumstances, you have the option of submitting a written response to your summons in which you lay out in detail all of the reasons why you will not be able to serve on the specified date. In the following, we will discuss the various kinds of proof that are necessary for the various excuses.

Note that this letter does not in any way guarantee that you will be exempt from jury duty; rather, each local court has its own procedures for writing this letter and considering your request to have the court excuse you from jury duty. (If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will see the potential consequences of skipping jury duty without a valid excuse, whether by accident or on purpose. )

Request a date change

You can postpone your service date, no explanation needed After being summoned, you typically have the opportunity to delay your obligation to serve on a jury for up to half a year, two or three times. The rules are different in each state, but most of them will allow you to reschedule your appointment for a later date.

An additional piece of guidance comes from Stephen Johnson, who works for Lifehacker. He says, "Since they let you pick the date you want to serve, choose the day before a long weekend." On that day, no one is going to initiate a new case, and everyone is anxious to leave the building as soon as possible. I left at 11 in the morning. m ”

Another useful piece of advice from Money Check: inquire about moving the date of your service to December. It would appear that the likelihood of the hearing being canceled or postponed by the court is greater during this time of year. In the best case scenario, the court will not recall you for the new date, and you will be released without any further obligation.

Make the case that you are suffering from the economy.

If you are eventually chosen to serve on a jury, it could be because you own a small business that cannot function without your presence, or it could be because your family will face significant financial hardship if you are chosen. You may use the fact that you are experiencing financial difficulties as a valid excuse to get out of serving on the jury, but in addition to your letter of excuse, you will need several other documents. You will be required to present your most recent tax returns, which detail your current financial situation, as well as documentation demonstrating your current employment status (including wages, hours worked, etc.). ), as well as any documentation demonstrating that you are unable to provide financial support for either yourself or your family as a direct result of your service on a jury.

Note that while employees of jobs held by the government and some large employers will receive pay while serving on juries, employees of many other jobs will not. Unfortunately, "missing work" does not, in and of itself, typically qualify as a claim for economic hardship, regardless of how true it may be.

Make a case for extreme medical expense

If you have a valid medical limitation, the court cannot reasonably expect you to appear in court. You also do not need to provide evidence that you are in a coma. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, you might want to consider providing an explanation as to why this condition would make it difficult for you to remain seated and focused on a case for extended periods of time. Those who wish to make a claim for medical hardship are required to submit a signed statement from a licensed physician that details their condition as well as the anticipated length of time it will continue.

Show that you are a responsible caretaker.

It's possible that you have family members or other people in your life who depend on you and can't be left alone all day while you go to your summons. If you are a caregiver for someone under the age of 16, you are required to provide copies of the birth certificates of the children you care for as well as an explanation as to why there are no other options for them while you are serving on a jury. If you are a caregiver for someone over the age of 16, you are not required to provide either of these documents. All other caregivers, such as a parent, a partner, or a sibling, are required to have a note from the attending physician that provides specifics regarding the patient's diagnosis and attests to the necessity of their services as a caregiver.

Be a uni student

If you are currently enrolled in an educational institution, you are most likely safe. Those who are enrolled in school on a full-time basis are required to provide a copy of their student identification card or class schedule in order to justify their absence on the date specified on their summons.

Be a senior citizen

Every court system has its own set of regulations, and many state courts acknowledge that serving on a jury can be an extremely trying experience for a lot of elderly people. If you are older than 65, you may be exempt from certain requirements in certain states, such as Mississippi and South Carolina. Other states, such as Arkansas and Colorado, do not provide any senior citizens with any specific exemptions. This resource provides information on the minimum age required to be excused from jury duty, broken down by state.

A demonstration of mental and emotional instability

If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, you may be excused from serving on a jury, despite the fact that it may be challenging for you to disclose highly personal information. Even if you don't have a diagnosis, it's important to explain the extenuating circumstances that led to your absence, such as a death in the family. According to Business Insider, this defense could be particularly useful in very complex cases involving scientific issues, which would require jurors to be free of mental distractions in order to do their jobs properly.

Justify why you can't be objective in this situation.

Even though you are not yet aware of the specifics of the case, there is a possibility that there is a compelling reason why you could never serve as an impartial juror. You should write in and explain that the fact that you frequently work with your local police department makes you biased toward (or against) police officers from the get-go. For instance, if you are a contractor who often works with your local police department. In a similar vein, if a member of your family is a law enforcement officer, you should bring up the fact that this makes you highly subjective in one way or another.

Tips to Reduce Your Chances of Being Selected for a Jury

Bear in mind that the initial jury duty summons you received was only for you to show up for the jury selection day, and not for the actual jury service. If you are unable to avoid participating in jury selection, the following are some things you can do to ensure that no attorney will want you in their courtroom.

Exhibit an excessive amount of joy.

Make use of some reverse psychology and put on an act as though you have a strong desire to serve on this jury. In general, attorneys will try to steer clear of prospective jurors who appear overly enthusiastic, as this type of juror may already have a preconceived notion of the outcome of the case before it has even been heard.

Have your mind made up

Make your position known if you in all honesty hold a position that is relevant to the matter at hand. For instance, if you have a history of being treated unfairly by an insurance provider, you shouldn't participate in a legal proceeding that involves insurance in any capacity.

Achieve the status of an "expert" in some field.

The minds of jurors are something that lawyers want to be able to shape. If you are able to demonstrate that you are already knowledgeable about a topic that is relevant to the case, there is a good chance that you will not be allowed to testify.

Mention the right to veto.

In the event that you are called for jury duty, this will be your final opportunity. The presiding judge will ask you to make a solemn oath that you will decide the case fairly and impartially according to the evidence that has been presented to you in court by both the prosecution and the defense teams. You are not obligated to take an oath to abide by this commitment. Tell the judge about your legitimate veto rights as a juror, which means that it is the right of the jury to find a verdict as they see fit and that it is the jurors' responsibility to ensure that this happens. This is referred to as "jury nullification," and although it is perfectly legal, it causes a lot of headaches for both the prosecutor and the judge.

How to get around paying fines

This is not the time to pull a Liz Lemon, despite how much fun it might seem. Never tell a blatant lie in court or make up evidence in front of the judge; you could end up having to serve jail time as a result of your actions. If the judge believes that you are trying to make a fool of themselves or their court, they have the authority to give you a sentence of up to two years in jail for your offense. That is a significant amount of additional time on top of the time you already spent serving on the jury.

Final reminders

The courts consider requests for exemptions on a case-by-case basis and make decisions accordingly. Do not assume that your line of thinking was correct and skip out on jury selection because you do not plan to appear or because you leave early. You run the risk of having to pay a hefty fine, and if the judge finds you guilty of contempt of court, you could be sentenced to as much as two years in prison.

Best of luck in avoiding performing your civic duty for the time being. Check out our busting of some prevalent myths about jury duty to learn some additional information about the jury system.

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