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How to Get Out of Jury Duty (Legally)

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Summons for Jury DutyOne of my friends has been asked to be on a jury multiple times in the last few years (I don’t know the exact details) and was wondering how she could potentially be legitimately excused. Turns out, it’s not as difficult as it sounds (neither is fulfilling your duty, as most people don’t get selected for juries).

Rule #1: Never lie. Don’t be a fool, the odds say you’ll just have to sit in a room and waste a day watching news, don’t make things worse by lying. Plus, most places will let you bring a computer into that waiting room so bring one or a book or something semi-productive to do instead of watch TV. It’s not that bad, plus you get lunch.

So, still want out?

Exclusion Rules

Each jurisdiction has its own rules for exclusion (here is a list of links to all the Jury Plans for counties in Maryland), and in Baltimore City, where my friend lives, the potential exemptions are:

  • aged 70+,
  • elected official of the federal legislative branch,
  • active military, or,
  • organized militia.

There are also potential disqualifications (the potential pool is taken from voter registration, MD Driver’s Licenses, and MD ID cards):

  • not a US Citizen,
  • not an adult (less than 18),
  • not a City resident,
  • cannot comprehend spoken English or cannot speak English,
  • cannot comprehend written English, read English, or write English well enough to fill out forms,
  • disabled with documentation by a health care provider,
  • convicted of a crime and imprisoned for more than 6 months (w/o pardon),
  • pending criminal charge with the potential for a sentance of 6 months+,
  • dead.

Other Tactics

If none of those exclusions or disqualifications is true, there are other ways to try to get out of jury duty (or at least avoid being selected).

Economic Hardship: In some jurisdictions, you can be excluded from jury duty if you can show economic hardship using proof of employment, wages and tax returns. If you own and operate a business or derive a significant amount of your income as a contractor, you could claim that you are losing income by virtue of not working. It’s harder for those on a salary but you could show how closely your income is to the your expenses and try to convince the judge that way.

Change of Date: Request a change of date if you are sick, going out of town (vacation, anyone?), have children and can’t get daycare, or some other compelling reason. If you can’t get out of it, at least try to get it rescheduled at a time that’s a little more convenient for you. Some sites recommend postponing it until December, when trials are more likely to be delayed or moved.

Act Smart: I don’t like the advice of some to pretend to have preconceived or racist notions in an attempt to get disqualified, but I do like the idea of acting smart or analytical. Lawyers like people they can persuade and people who are too attached to the facts and not easily persuaded are dangerous to both sides.

Jury Veto: This is sort of the nuclear option… a jury veto (also known as ‘jury nullification of law’) is where you can vote guilty/not guilty on the basis of your belief that a law is wrong or improperly applied. So the person could be guilty of the crime in your mind but you could vote not guilty on grounds of jury nullification. Neither the defense nor the prosecution will tell you about this right, as they don’t want you to know, but if you mention it you will probably get excused.

Some more resources:

Hope those tips help!

(Photo: hvnlydlite)

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82 Responses to “How to Get Out of Jury Duty (Legally)”

  1. acn says:

    if the person is working and paying taxes, there is no reason why the working person needs to attend jury duty. there are millions of unemployed people who would have the time to attend jury duty.

  2. ac says:

    jury duty is a fraud they waste 3 to 4 weeks of your time and i told them that and that i didnt want to serve and that just made them pick me…….you shouldnt have to serve unless you want to

  3. kim says:

    why is it always people with jobs that get called out to jury duty? I think the system is broken why don’t we make it a requirement that worthless people sitting at home collecting gov. benefits have to preform civil duties….we the working people are already serving our civil duties by getting up and going to work every day.

    • Cherie says:

      HAHA!!! Thats great Kim, you read my mind!!!

    • Brian says:

      Do you think unemployed people are ‘worthless’? If you do…then you’re just another idiot who is lost in their own little world. Lose your job during this recession…and then see how you like it. Also, to all those other people out there who think us who are currently unemployed are lazy…GO F**K YOURSELVES. We’re (well, most of us) are trying hard to get back to work. I’ve applied for 1,100 + jobs and have only been to around 6 interviews…and still nothing. The interviewers treat us like cattle…because there are so many of us applying for the same job…that they’ve lost any empathetic ability to relate to us interviewees. Plain sucks… Back to the grind.

      • cxl says:

        Been there, done that. It really, really sucks to be unemployed. I know it sounds trite, but good luck – keep at it. I eventually found something and now I do everything I can to in-source work (there’s a concept) and actually add employees. Drives the execs crazy but they can’t argue with the payback.

  4. Yana says:

    What a horrible thing to say, kim. “worthless people sitting at home collecting gov. benefits”. The worth of a human being doesn’t come from whether or not they are in the workforce or from their source of legal income. I also don’t know that it is a civil duty to get up and go to work every day, but if you think that it is and that is the reason that you do it, I can understand your attitude to a degree. In that case, going to work or the nature of your work have nothing to do with what you are made of or your worth.

    Though I agree that working people should not be threatened and forced to serve on a jury or make extraordinary efforts to get out of it. And neither should people who would prefer to sit at home twiddling their thumbs or rearranging their stereo wires be inconvenienced. :)

  5. kim says:

    Yes Yana worthless people not trying to better them selves…you know getting gov. checks their whole lives not going to school/work not trying at all….you know those kind of people we pay taxes to support. FOREVR and Ever. My civil duty is to get up and GO to WORK so that I can be a productive citizen of the US and NOT drag this country down (any more than people already have)….too many people with their hands out. they think everything is a right. I don’t break the laws so why whould I suffer and waste my time if I do not want to trying to find out if some one is guilty or not….most of the time they are anyway.

    • kalyn says:

      i happen to be “worthless”, according to you, then, HUH!? i’m manic bipolar and PTSD and get social security every month. i don’t get enough to actually LIVE. i still live with my mom. after paying my equal of bills and maybe stamps? i get 40$ for 29days. that’s below-poverty to the max. every time i try to get a job? i’m denied. i’d love to go to college. and before you bitch about it, I HAVE A DIPLOMA. stick that in your pipe and smoke it. i’d love to get more than just 450$ and be “normal” for once. the problem? i can’t fucking afford it!! FAFSA and grants can only cover SO FAR. if i took out loans i’d just be in debt for the rest of my broke-ass life.

      i have a jury duty summons at the moment, LOOKATTHAT OMFG. and you know what? i don’t wanna go. where they want me to attend is absolutely unattainable. why? again, cost. gas is expensive. i don’t have my own car. oh! and i can’t drive, either! I COULD NEVER AFFORD TO PAY FOR CLASSES! hell, i can’t afford to renew my ID! 1hr they expect me to drive to and from the courthouse? I DON’T THINK SOOO! that’s money i don’t freaking have to spend on gas, AND my mom doesn’t know her way around the city. if it weren’t a money issue, i’d go–hell yeah. but 1hr of monotonous driving probably multiple times? hell NO.

      even if you, KIM, got a summons- with your attitude? the pre-questioning would deem you biased and unfit to serve in jury. so take your awesome life and shove it. not everyone who depends on government checks WANT to be that way.

      • o a m says:

        excuses , excuses, excuses. WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU HAVE A DISEASE or any illness!! As a matter of fact , with the way the medical world is, WE are all sick of something. LOL!!

    • o a m says:

      Kim,

      i’m with you on this one.

    • AIP says:

      People like you are so stupid. You are just making generalizations.

      Tell the Vietnam veteran with his legs blown off to go through all the trouble of getting there, all the discomfort because it’s his “civic duty”, just so he can get his 40$ and fulfill some stupid ideal.

      What about someone who has some mental deficiency?
      Why should they be a juror?
      Do you really want someone’s life in the hands of a Charles Manson?

      You have no basis for your argument, the only viable one is jealousy. For what?
      Because you don’t think you should?
      What did you do that’s so important?
      You’re just a sheep in the flock, coming and going every day, doing what you’re told, you are insignificant.

  6. beyatch slapper says:

    Actually, you are less than worthless to society if you suck from the coffers without putting anything back. Anyone can at least volunteer in their community.

  7. Richard Gere (not really) says:

    has anyone tried to say they are Buddhist?
    I was told by my Asian friend that Buddhists can’t pass judgment on people, thus cannot be jurors.

    Anyone know of someone that used this to get excused?

    • Yana says:

      Richard not really Gere – I’d like to know that too, because although I’m not a Buddhist, I don’t feel I can pass judgement on someone based on egomaniacal theatrics by the lawyers. I can’t think of anything much worse than being wrongly convicted, and I want no part of that. I can’t be convinced of guilt or innocence in any way outside of seeing the deed committed.

  8. Rick says:

    “Civic Duty”, what a bunch of pussies some of you are.

    As Norm Crosby said, “When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty”, hahahaha.

    Yep, I get out of jury duty, and do so with no remorse or sense of guilt. I run a business and I have a right to earn a living and no one, no government official, no liberal judge has a right to restrict that right. And I was told, when I indicated it was a financial hardship because I was the sole operator of my business that, “well, since you are a citizen of this country, and because you can run a business, then you have an obligation to serve on jury duty, period”. So, in other words, screw you and your livelihood. So that was my turning point, I have plenty of legal reasons now and I use them.

    On the other hand, if some of you are so enamored with the prospect of serving jury duty, you out to volunteer for lots and lots more of it.

    The rest of you, keep asking around, keep researching it, there are lots of excuses you can legitimately get and you will find them if you keep looking for them.

    • Soldier says:

      Thanks for holding the fort down for me and all my comrades serving overseas. I’m glad people like you are able to deny your civil service with no remorse or regrets. I’m so glad I’ve had to watch my comrades-in-arms die so you can live freely under our legal system. It pleases me to know that you will be there helping us out while we are fighting for our lives overseas. As for me, I would love to partake in our legal system. I just have to live long enough to get the opportunity to.

      I believe that while the legal system has problems, it also has benefits. The system may not be right, but people like you sure don’t help out those trying to do right.

      Enjoy your business.

      • Seriousally? says:

        Last I checked we have not had a draft recently so you WILLINGLY chose to join the military. Don’t try to guilt anyone into anything because you are “fighting for our lives”. It’s you job, you chose it and joined, just like I chose my job. If you don’t like it, perhaps you shouldn’t have joined in the first place.

      • Dick Cheney says:

        Yeah you’re so overseas fighting for the rights of American’s….ok?

  9. JackMcCoyFanGirl says:

    I’m a “Law and Order” junkie and I never miss an episode.

    If I’m called to jury duty, it’ll be my dream come true.(finally get to cast a vote on the jury) On “Law and Order” episodes from the last 15 years, the jury voted GUILTY 37% of the time, and NOT GUILTY 59% of the time, and lastly DEADLOCKED for the remaining cases. In reality, jury trials are probably the same, so I’ll cast my vote according to the TV episodes.

  10. howtogetoutofjuryduty says:

    This works everytime … Goto court house wearing a suit and lawyers will automatically dismiss you as they dont want ‘smart’ people as they judge you based on appearence on jury. They want people they can persuade.

  11. Lesley Stewart says:

    I was just called to jury duty for 2 months and think it is pure bull shit! $30.00 a day for two months or how ever long! Even loosing a days wages is a huge hardship for me with no husband. I rely on my income alone and was told when I called in if I told the judge I couldn’t afford to be there he would tell me to move to a different country. Ok folks here is my thinking here. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country without jobs currently.. My father has lived on unemployement and now still not employ3ed gets nothing and I have a full time job and the dumb asses call me. It puts my full time job in jepordy and I can’t afford to be a juror however my father getting no unemployement could use the 30.00 a day. Why can’t they call all the unemployed people first! Is that really that hard to figure out. They need the money and I need my full time job. Bullshit in my opinion completely a country ran by men! Not a womans thinking by no way! Bullshit!

    • citizen says:

      Three years ago I was called to jury duty on the first day of my new job. I told the judge that it was my first day on a new job and wanted to be excused. There was another potential juror who said he was currently looking for work in the same field. He got dismissed and I wasn’t. He was unemployed; he could use $30 a day!

  12. steelers#7 says:

    I received a summons recently. I took it as I am supposed to be dragged into a boring courtroom. Miss work, and pay. All becuz some jerk broke the law and doesnt wanna be judged by a judge and requested a jury trail? And even if I find him/her guilty, the judge still gets to decide his/her sentence? And will probably let them go after they serve a quarter of it or so? No thank you!! I can honestly say that I “could never unbiasedly” judge anyone, cuz I would go with whatever got me outta there faster!! The defendant would be better off letting the judge decide his/her fate, basically doing their job.

  13. phakjuryduty! says:

    I just got my second request denied. they obviously don’t care if you have an elderly parent in the next state over that you have to look after. im going to call them tomorrow to see if i can get a waiver, if not, im going to wear a black panther t-shirt or “no justice, no peace” shirt with dark shades, and see how they take me. what do you guys think?

  14. momo says:

    I am a full time student at UC-San Diego. I moved to San Diego about two and a half years ago, but never changed my address from where I used to live (LA) to my current address because I move around SD a lot (after every school year). My mom (in LA) got my jury duty mail stating that I’ve failed to serve jury duty and been fined 1500. We, however, never got the first mail telling me that I have jury duty or anything. I strongly believe that I shouldn’t be fined, at least not that much for not serving jury duty. I mean I didn’t know about it until now, when it is too late. I really don’t know what to do. Call them? Go to the court and explain to them my situation? Any advice??

    • citizen says:

      momo, you can try and explain to the judge that you had moved every year and never received the summons. Tell him that Mom may or may not have received the summons and you knew nothing about it.

  15. Lol (at you all) says:

    Wow, you guys are all a bunch of idiots. LMFAO.

    For one, stop crying.

    For two, grab a kleenex. Ffs.

  16. Judges"R"TrueCriminals says:

    When will everyone just stop and realize that the country we live in is always going to remain corrupt and under quasi-dictatorship. Our so-called democracy is a joke when we aren’t even granted the right to request for our own dismissal from a jury summons. It makes me sick to read over and over that people who have to care for someone disabled were sneared at by the judges and told to “get a babysitter”. I showed up to a jury and luckily I wasn’t chosen in the end, but the judge gave us all a disclaimer basically saying that he will ask everyone if they want to state their reason why they need to be excused but he really doesn’t care about any reason. That cancer in the robe had the audacity to say that he doesn’t excuse jurors, he only post-pones. He also sneezed and coughed a lot…oh how I prayed he’d collaspe and die right there in his chair. A cherry on top would also be if when he fell out of his seat to the floor that his gavel would also fall on his head, crushing his skull to confirm his death.

  17. Morgan says:

    I don’t known why someone thinks Jury Nullification is illegal because it isn’t (at least in the US).

    “It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision… you [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy”. State of Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1, 4 (1794) by the Supreme Court. This was again reiterated in in SPARF v. U S, 156 U.S. 51 (1895)

    U.S. v. Moylan, 417 F.2d 1002 (4th Cir.1969) and United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113 reaffirmed this.

    As for U.S. v. Thomas No. 95-1337 (2nd Cir. 5-20-97) that case was about the removal of a juror because of their belief in Jury nullification NOT on nullification itself.

    In fact in US vs Polouizzi (2009) by the 2nd circuit it was stated “Although jurors have the capacity to nullify, it is not the proper role of courts to encourage nullification. Although jurors have the capacity to nullify, it is not the proper role of courts to encourage nullification.   See Thomas, 116 F.3d at 615.”

  18. Richard says:

    To Getting out of jury duty is easy…I don’t like god.

  19. jose says:

    Jury duty dont pay enough should be 100 a day

  20. chris says:

    How about leaving us working stiffs alone! You have 9.1% unemployment right now. Let them earn their checks by wasting their day in the courtroom and let me go to work!!!!

  21. cxl says:

    I agree with the notion of “employing” the unemployed to a point. It is a great system – best in class, really. My problem is when I am out of the office no one covers my work. When I get done with jury duty, I get to go to work. Oh, well, it could be worse.

  22. Fred Ward says:

    The justice system is a game in Australia, and getting out of jury duty is a national sport. The whole system is broken. Judges get lifetime appointments and are not investigated or accountable for stupid decisions. Sentences are out of touch with community standards. Evidence is “withheld” from juries for being too prejudicial, even though it is relevant. There is no search for the truth, and the rich get better results because they can afford better lawyers. Overall, the whole court system is a game. This clip pretty well sums up how the system has failed everyone except the lawyers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHFa30pD3N8

  23. Alan Poole says:

    I told the judge that I believe in Jury Nullification and he was angered by that. I didn’t know it then, but he had already decided to excuse me for other reasons. But had he known about my belief in Jury Nullification, he said he would have sent me to a courtroom that tries civil cases where that wouldn’t be as likely to be an issue.

    I admire people who do Jury Duty and clearly we need jurors. I’d like to see a volunteer system so that those who are freer to serve than I am could do so and also would be paid decently. Possibly, we could save quite a bit of money by cutting down on the number of people who have to be called and sifted through who are determined not to serve. That money could go towards compensating people interested in serving.

  24. Maury says:

    Civic duty my @ss. Plain and simple, this is a pain in the @ss antiquated system. Face it, ninety-nine percent of the people hate this garbage. They want to bring down the unemployment rate? Hire professional jurors and pay them a decent wage and quit wasting our time with this BS. I will do anything I can to avoid this circus, whether these b*stards like it or not.

  25. Kevin says:

    I am the ultimate stealth juror. A prosecutor’s nightmare. Bring it on…NOT GUILTY! Ha Ha Ha


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