All registered voters in the USA automatically qualify as potential jurors. Selection on any jury is thereafter random and evasion can incur stiff fines. Summons for jury duty involves a selection process to determine capability to serve, called voir dire with probing questions to identify possible biases. Those not selected are excused from duty. Depending on the trial, jury duty varies from three to four days but trails do stretch over several weeks, making it inconvenient for some. If avoiding jury duty, you may be charged with contempt of court, but several legal ways to avoid it, exist:
Financial Hardship, Studies and Medical Reasons
Compensation for jury duty, may not sustain your family if you remain unpaid for days missed at work as employers are not legally obliged to pay employees absent on jury duty. To prove that wage loss is detrimental, submit your payroll and latest tax return to be excused from jury duty. Full-time/ part-time students at accredited educational institutions are excused in most states. Check rules as this is not applicable in some states like California. A planned surgery or doctor’s appointment can excuse you if missing these could harm your health, with proofs to escape jury duty.
Attitude /Emotional Instability and Age
In some states, those over 70 are excused from jury duty, but check before seeking exemption. Being hostile or vocal, makes lawyers uncomfortable as they feel unsure about evidence presented to persuade them. This tactic can get you excused. While mental disorders secure automatic excusal, family loss or divorce, are valid excuses if undergoing turbulent emotional stress, provided the court is given details, making these public.
Pregnant, Breastfeeding, and Primary Child-carers
Pregnant women have a medical excuse due to prior medical appointments and unforeseen issues during pregnancy, after informing the court. Breastfeeding mothers are also excused by courts. The primary caregiver for young children must prove that others cannot care for them and that day-care is no option, creating hardships if participating in jury duty.
Relatives and Bias
Talk about details regarding the case or somebody involved because this is a legitimate legal excuse to not become a juror, including employers, relatives, or any other relationships, even if there’s a witness. The same will apply to any bias about the case; in which case tell the court, and you will be excused.
Recently Served or Need to Put the Date off
If you have served in a federal or state trial within the last two years, a release from jury duty is certainly possible. If the summons is inappropriate, and difficult to serve, push the jury date forward for 6 months or less, at least 7 days prior to date of appearance.
All public sector employees including police officers, lawyers, doctors and government officials, are usually excused, as industry knowledge and experience may influence views. Small business owners easily convince courts that jury service affects livelihood with negative impacts on business, especially without employees. Courts with specific county jurisdictions reject jurors residing in other counties. If you have moved, inform the court prior to summons date, to be excused.
Valid excuse enables evading jury duty, and these are valid ways to escape. Judges understand hardships jury duty could cause and do listen if you speak up.