A jury summons is an invitation to be a part of the legal process and perform your duty as a citizen.
However, sometimes jury duty can interfere with your work, and the pay for jury duty is often much less than what you receive for a day at work. Additionally, there might be other issues that make serving on a jury onerous at this time.
If you really feel that you need to get out of jury duty, here are some tips on how to get out of jury duty that you can try:
Make an Excuse
Sometimes, all you need is an excuse to postpone jury duty. Acceptable excuses to get out of jury duty, or to at least postpone it until a time that works better for you, include:
- Medical condition
- Important commitments at work
- You’re a student and you’re worried about missing class or an exam
- Financial difficulty (if you can prove you can’t afford to miss work)
- Can’t find someone to watch your children
If you plan to use an excuse, you might need to back the excuse up with some kind of evidence. A medical excuse should be backed up with a note from your doctor; financial difficulty might be established with the help of statements and pay stubs. Some parents might go so far as to bring their children with them to the selection date to show they are serious about not being able to find or afford child care.
You can use your excuse to request a change of date for reporting. Instead of showing up at the time appointed, you can ask to show up a couple weeks earlier. In many cases, asking to show up earlier is more effective than postponing, since jury lists might already be made, and slots filled. If you are a student, request the Christmas break. Often, trials scheduled for this time frame are delayed or postponed, and you can get out of it later.
Getting Excused When You Arrive
If you can’t get out of reporting for jury duty, you might be able to avoid actually serving on a jury if you arrive and show that you can’t overcome your biases. If you indicate that you are biased one way or the other, and unlikely to overcome your biases for the sake of justice, you might be excused.
Another tactic is to mention that you believe in “jury nullification.” This is basically the right of the jury (and it has been upheld in the past) to find the perpetrator innocent, even if he or she is guilty, based on the idea that the law is unjust. An example might be Rosa Parks. She was guilty of breaking segregation laws in her state. However, a jury believing in nullification might still refuse to convict her since the laws were grossly unjust.
In some cases, you might not get out of jury duty, no matter how hard you try. At that point, it’s best to just accept it, and remind yourself that you are doing your civic duty by serving on a jury.