One of the most important civic duties we have as Americans is serving on a jury.

A huge piece of our judicial system includes being able to have a trial of your peers rather than letting the government being judge, jury, and executioner. Yet many people try to get out of jury service simply for convenience and that is a true shame.

Some people want to know how to get out of jury duty because they fear being fired from their job for missing work, but that is illegal. Your employer cannot fire you for missing work due to jury duty.

However, there are those who have legitimate reasons to get out of jury service.

how to get out of jury duty
If you are wondering how to avoid serving on a jury, here are some of the ways to get out of jury duty:

How to Avoid Jury Service

If you have a legitimate reason to find a way to get out of jury duty, here are a few options.

Show You Have a True Conflict of Time

You can get out of jury duty if you can prove that you have a true time conflict on your hands. If you will have a hard time finding someone to watch your children, or if you can’t miss work due to financial hardship, these are items that can provide you with an excuse that many judges will accept to excuse you from jury duty.

It’s also possible to get out of jury duty just by asking for a different date. If you are a student and you are concerned about school, or testing, you can ask to report at a different time.

In many cases, if you ask for an earlier date to report, jury lists can be made up already. Another option is to ask for a date that falls during the holidays. As a student, it makes sense to ask for Christmas break. However, many trials are postponed during the holidays, so it can result in you being able to get out of it later.

Avoid Jury Service Due to Poor Health

Another conflict might be a medical issue. Bring a doctor’s note showing that you have a health problem, and there is a good chance that you can avoid jury duty. This is especially true if you have what might be considered a mental illness.

Being able to show that you are unable to meet the obligations of jury duty can be a great way to get out of jury duty.

Getting Excused from a Jury

Even if you go down for jury selection, there are ways to get out of jury duty by being excused. First of all, you don’t want to lie. You are usually under oath, so you don’t want to risk the consequences of lying.

However, there are ways to imply that you might not be a juror that the attorneys for one side or the other are looking for. Some of those ways include:

  • Bias: While we all have biases, if you can indicate that yours is one that you will have a hard time overcoming for the sake of the trial, you are likely to be excused.
  • Expert: If you act as though you are an expert on the facts of the case, many attorneys will want to excuse you. Most attorneys are more interested in jurors who are relatively new to the situation.
  • Relatives: Do you have a close relative that works in law enforcement? If you have a connection to the case somehow, or a connection to law enforcement, many attorneys will decide to excuse.
  • Rebel: There’s a fine line between coming across as a smart juror who can follow directions and make a decision, and being a rebel. If you indicate that you are a free thinker/free spirit, or that you have a hard time following the rules, you might be dismissed.
  • Attitude: Sometimes, just having a bad attitude can be enough to get your dismissed. If you are going to be negative and difficult the whole time, the judge and/or attorneys might decide to send you on your way.
  • Extra enthusiasm: Believe it or not, but if you are especially enthusiastic about serving on a jury, there is a good chance that you will be dismissed. If you seem overly interested in being on the jury, there might be some question about whether or not you are biased, or have an agenda.

Risks of Intentionally Trying to Be Excused from Jury Service

There is risk to consider when trying to get out of jury duty. If you are intentionally trying to get excused and just making up an excuse the judge can actually hold you in contempt of court.

For example, if there is a case involving a car wreck at high speed and you go over the top with how much you hate all vehicles to the point of absurdity the judge can hold you in contempt because it is blatantly obvious you are faking it to get out of your civic duty.

There are numerous ways to get out of jury duty. If you have a valid excuse, or if you can just indicate that you might not be ideal for the jury, you can avoid serving time.

However, if you are called for jury duty, and you don’t have a good reason to avoid it, perhaps you should consider serving. After all, it is your civic duty.

And wouldn’t you want a jury on your trial to be made up of people who would do a good job rather than just the people that couldn’t figure out how to get out jury service?

photo credit: JasonUnbound via photopin cc


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Comments | 3 Responses

  1. says

    Honestly when it comes to jury duty I would rather just go and get it out of the way. After you have spent all day there waiting to find out if they are going to pick you are not usually its the roughest part. If you have poor health or something I understand but too many people try lying their way out. Not sure how many people actually truly want to be at jury duty in the first place.

  2. says

    I served jury duty in federal court three years ago (felony drug arrest).

    Here’s another unintended consequence of trying to be excused from jury duty: when the judge questioned the prospective jurors, he was generally sympathetic to their concerns. He also got them to talk their heads off and perhaps they shared too much detail. At the end of their confessions, the judge turned out to be not their friend: he subsequently re-assigned every excused candidate to a civil trial. In Hawaii (and perhaps elsewhere) civil trials are generally longer than felony trials.

    I was the 12th juror to be picked. We spent one day selecting the jury and a second day hearing the case. It turned out to be easier to do the deliberations (guilty) during a marathon 10-hour second day than to return for a third day.

  3. says

    I was on a jury a few years ago for a child abuse case, and it’s not something I would want to do again I don’t think. The jury I was on had some pretty decent people and we all got along, but hearing about how this guy hurt his own kid was just so hard.

    We found the guy guilty and a few weeks later I saw the guy we had convicted at a local restaurant working in the kitchen. Needless to say I was hoping he didn’t see and recognize me.

    My wife was on a drug case jury, and due to one juror that wouldn’t listen to reason the case had a hung jury – although he was later found guilty.

    Jury service is a civic duty, but I can easily see how others might need or want to get out of it.

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