Tips About Jury Duty - What to do when you're called for jury selection (and how to get out of it.)
It's everyone's civic duty to serve on a Jury if selected for jury duty. It is part of the price we pay for living in a just society where we may be tried by a jury of twelve of our peers. But sometimes it's just not a good time to be called for jury duty, sometimes you have important projects on at work, perhaps your job is threatened and you're afraid that if you have to take days or weeks off work that you may lose your job, perhaps you have other personal reasons why sitting in a small box listening to lawyers trying to mess with your mind is not at the top of your priorities. The good news is that it is possible to get out of jury duty. The bad news is that it is sometimes a little tricky. You see, a summons to jury duty is a command from the court. To simply ignore it is to commit a crime. If the summons arrived by registered mail and you signed for it, then there is no way to avoid the fact that you are going to have to at least respond to the summons in order not to end up before a court yourself.
There are some reasons that will enable you to avoid jury duty however. Here are some valid reasons which allow you to get out of jury duty:
- Being over 70 years old.
- Being a volunteer firefighter
- Caring for young children or elderly adults, your presence being so vital to their wellbeing that your absence may put them at risk.
- You are so important to your business or employer that the whole enterprise may fail if you are not there.
- You don't have a car and cannot use public transportation.
The first step in getting out of jury duty is to write to the court. If your circumstances are extreme enough, you may be excused from going to court at all. If your excuse is a little less extreme, you may need to show up to court at the jury assembly time and ask to be excused there. During the jury assembly process there is a stage at which a court officer will ask assembled potential jurors if anyone has a reason that they are not able to serve on a jury. This is regarded as being the best time to state your case and be excused.
If you are denied in your request and told to stay you will then be required to be part of a panel from which the jury will be selected. The panel is sworn in and then questioned about various aspects of your life. You can be questioned on your employment, family, relationships, past criminal activity, essentially your life is an open book.
You will also be asked if you believe that you can be a fair and impartial juror. Answering this question in the negative should be more than enough to secure your dismissal.
If, for some bizarre reason, you are not dismissed, there is still the lawyer selection stage, where the lawyers for the prosecution and the defense will question you. If you appear wildly biased in any one direction, it is highly likely that one of the lawyers will then call for your dismissal.
Of course, if all else fails you can turn up in mismatched clothing and declare your belief in the great high lord Xenu and his consort the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Such tactics are usually unnecessary however.
There is usually a period of time for which you must make yourself available for jury duty. Even if you are excused from one jury you will have to return the next day to repeat the process again.