If you have ever served on a jury or know someone who has, you probably know that its something most people try desperately to avoid. Although some cases can be interesting, most are tedious and time-consuming, and the stipend given to jurors is usually barely enough to cover the gas. However, there are valid issues you can raise that will get you excused either beforehand or the first day you are required to show up. I was summoned for jury duty, and during the course of the morning it became evident to me there are two main claims that will get you excused:
Claim a hardship
This is the way most people get out of jury duty. Before I was summoned, they sent me a questionnaire that asked a series of questions calculated to find out if serving on the jury would cause an “undue hardship”. I did have to show up for court and several people asked the judge to be excused. He was pretty lenient, even outlining valid reasons for dismissal and asking people to raise their hands if any of the following was true:
You are a student, and jury duty would make you miss school. (They don’t have to know that you signed up the day before for Basket Weaving 101)
You have some sort of illness or disability. (You have a stomach cramps and you’re pretty sure its an ectopic pregnancy)
You had something scheduled way before hand that you can prove, such as a vacation.(Or someone you know did and you’re suddenly planning to go with)
You are caring for children, and can’t afford a sitter. (Even your 17-yr old might need constant supervision -since you dropped him on his head that time he hasn’t been “right”.)
It would be very difficult for you to acquire transportation. (i.e., your car just died and you sprained your ankle, so taking the bus is out of the question).
Claim a prejudice or bias
This might be the easiest way. In my local city’s court the judge asked us several times in 10 different ways if we were absolutely sure we could be impartial. It is very important to the court to have impartial jurors. Therefore:
Think really, really hard. Didn’t someone you know have a similar case once? Perhaps you are still emotional over the situation.
Maybe you can’t be impartial, cause you think cops, lawyers, judges or the court system is a joke.
Claim that you know or think you know one of the parties to the case, the DA, the judge, or any of the lawyers.
Mention that your dream is to be a DA (or defense lawyer) and you have already applied to several law schools.
Always remember – don’t ignore a jury duty summons! I ignored the questionnaire and when I got pulled over for speeding I was handcuffed and taken to the police station booking room. Of course, I was able to see the judge within an hour and he quashed everything once I apologized, but it was not fun. The court gets irritated when you ignore your civic duty.
Most important – don’t lie! It doesn’t hurt to get creative, but if the court finds you lied outright, you will get slapped with a charge and you will still be required to serve.