September 24, 2017 1:00 am

Getting Out of Jury Duty: What Works and What Doesn’t

New Yorkers are some of the hardest working and stubborn people. Some can’t leave work for even a minute, and others just can’t be bothered. For that reason, getting out of jury duty is a huge relief for the citizens of the five boroughs. As soon as people are summoned, they try to think of excuses to miss jury duty. Let’s first review what doesn’t work:

  1. Medical excuses. The rule of thumb is if you’re well enough to work, you’re well enough to serve as a juror.
  2. My company counts on me for operation. Whether you’re the store owner or the Broadway star, you have to serve on jury duty. Your company is legally obligated to excuse you, and the court house will not be sympathetic to any CEO or boss.
  3. It’s finals week. People can start serving on jury duty as young as 18 years old, which catches many students during their busiest time of year. And yet, school excuses are just about as insignificant as hall passes. Move along.
  4. I have to babysit my grandchildren. Grandparents, nannies, and other babysitters other than the parents still have to serve.
  5. I’m retired. There is no upper age limit for jurors, and employment status is irrelevant. However, if you’re older than 75 years you can ask to be excused.
getting out of jury duty

Queen’s County Court

 

So now that those excuses are gone, what’s left? Well here are the valid reasons for getting out of jury duty:

  1. You are not a US citizen. If you are in the United States under a visa, you do not have to serve jury duty. Your state tax returns are probably what landed you in this situation anyway!
  2. You are out of state. If you are in a different state or even out of the country during the sentence, you may postpone or be entirely dismissed.
  3. You are under the age of 18. Oops, your driver’s license number is probably what landed you in the pile. You will be immediately excused.
  4. You are pregnant. If you’re pregnant and already missing work (thus a valid medical excuse), then you can miss jury duty too.
12 Angry Men's Jury

12 Angry Men’s Jury

Other tricks of the trade for getting out of jury duty?

  1. Wear shorts. Shorts are not considered courthouse attire. However, you may have to report again on another day with more appropriate clothing.
  2. Pray for Fridays. Even attorneys don’t like working on Fridays. If you are summoned on this favorite day of the week, you may be granted an early dismissal (such as 1 p.m. compared to 4 p.m.).
  3. Verbalize your biases. If you’ve reached the point of the attorney interview, Voir Dire, you can express reasons as to why you would be biased on the particular trial. This often includes knowing the plaintiff/defendant or having a shared experience (you/your family suing for something similar, etc) that would hinder your ability to provide a fair trial.
  4. Show proof of jury duty service. If you’ve served in the last 4-6 years (depending on your experience/court system/state), you can show your certificate to be excused. Even if you don’t actually sit on the jury during trial, but just participate in the interview process, you can be given pardon.

 

While jury duty can be inconvenient, it is considered your civic duty. While bending over backwards to get out of jury duty, ask yourself if it’s really worth the fuss. After all, postpones only last up to 6 months but serving jury duty will keep you out of the courthouse for years (at least as a juror!). Just make sure you copy your certificate and keep the original in a safe place!

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Rob Thornhill

Rob Thornhill

Author, columnist, journalist, teacher, licensed financial advisor. It's all about the money (savings).