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 be 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 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.
If you are wondering how to avoid serving on a jury, here are some of the best ways to get out of jury duty:
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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 have a hard time finding someone to watch your children, for instance, or if you can’t miss work, these are items that can provide you with an excuse many judges will accept to excuse you from jury duty.
- Use your student status: 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.
- Ask for an earlier date: 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.
- Aim for December: As a student, it makes sense to ask to serve during Christmas break. Many trials are postponed during the holidays, so this request could result in you being able to get out of it altogether.
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 that 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.
Get Out of Jury Duty by Demonstrating Financial Hardship
This one is a tough sell, but if you would sincerely suffer financially if you missed a few days of work, a judge may be sympathetic.
Your best shot at exemption is to bring plenty of documentation to support your case, like pay stubs and last year’s tax return.
Keep in mind that this approach is only likely to work in extreme cases of financial duress. If it’s simply a case of preferring not to miss work, you shouldn’t attempt it. A court of law is the last place you should lie or exaggerate your circumstances.
Best Tips for 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. Once again, you don’t want to lie. You are usually under oath and absolutely shouldn’t 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.
Using any of the tips above may very well get you excused from serving on a jury. If you don’t feel bold enough to act biased or pretend to be an expert, excessive optimism might do the trick. Regardless, be careful not to overstep as you consider trying to get out of jury duty.
Risks of Intentionally Trying to Be Excused from Jury Service
There is a level of 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 of jury service?
Serving on a jury is an integral component of the American judicial system, upholding the principle of trial by peers. While there are legitimate circumstances and concerns that may justify an individual’s need to avoid jury duty, it is essential to approach the situation ethically and honestly.
There are established methods for excusing oneself based on genuine hardships, but deceit or exaggeration can have legal ramifications.
It’s essential to weigh personal convenience against civic responsibility. If called upon, taking jury duty seriously and participating actively is a testament to our commitment to justice and the democratic processes that underpin our society.
After all, if we were in the defendant’s position, we would hope for a fair and conscientious jury to decide our fate.