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. Greg says:

    For california and it’s current financial mess it’s in, it has NO business sending their (attack dogs) sheriff deputies out in the middle of the freakin night (4:00 to 5:00 AM) mind you. Pounding on your front door with flashlight’s and batons holding up the very same piece of paper you properly disposed of twice :P. Go with a judge dredd system or hire and train people to be jurors, cus it’s long obsolete and a waste of our times. ps if you look at it more closely jury duty is basically just like military conscription/drafting ie (DO IT. OR ELSE!)

  2. whoyou says:

    its crazy i had to go away for work and this is my first real job but i have to miss out because of jury duty then when i tried to reschedule i had to deal with this secretary with an attitude problem telling me me that i cant schedule to come in after a certain time. it’s all bs if they use info from voters registration to bring people in for jury duty then we shouldnt have to go if the person we vote for doesn’t win

  3. Larry Yue says:

    Juror selection is corrupted. They should has paid each juror better not $15 a day plus mileage. I know that jury service is a civil duty to do, but when people are force to do it, then it’s like Communism. I believed the court don’t want to compensate more because they want juror selection to be long and agonizing. The bureaucratic part is to have large number of court employees paid and is like unnecessary big government. You know what I mean.

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