How To Get Out of Jury Duty

How to Avoid Jury Service

If you have a legitimate reason to find a way to get out of jury duty, here are a few options.

Show You Have a True Conflict of Time

You can get out of jury duty if you can prove that you have a true time conflict on your hands.

If you will have a hard time finding someone to watch your children, for instance, or if you can’t miss work, these are items that can provide you with an excuse many judges will accept to excuse you from jury duty.

  • Use your student status: It’s also possible to get out of jury duty just by asking for a different date. If you are a student and you are concerned about school, or testing, you can ask to report at a different time.
  • Ask for an earlier date: In many cases, if you ask for an earlier date to report, jury lists can be made up already. Another option is to ask for a date that falls during the holidays.
  • Aim for December: As a student, it makes sense to ask to serve during Christmas break. Many trials are postponed during the holidays, so this request could result in you being able to get out of it altogether.

Avoid Jury Service Due to Poor Health

Another conflict might be a medical issue. Bring a doctor’s note showing that you have a health problem, and there is a good chance that you can avoid jury duty. This is especially true if you have what might be considered a mental illness.

Being able to show that you are unable to meet the obligations of jury duty can be a great way to get out of jury duty.

Get Out of Jury Duty by Demonstrating Financial Hardship

This one is a tough sell, but if you would sincerely suffer financially if you missed a few days of work, a judge may be sympathetic.

Your best shot at exemption is to bring plenty of documentation to support your case, like pay stubs and last year’s tax return.

Keep in mind that this approach is only likely to work in extreme cases of financial duress. If it’s simply a case of preferring not to miss work, you shouldn’t attempt it. A court of law is the last place you should lie or exaggerate your circumstances.

Best Tips for Getting Excused from a Jury

Even if you go down for jury selection, there are ways to get out of jury duty by being excused. Once again, you don’t want to lie. You are usually under oath and absolutely shouldn’t risk the consequences of lying.

However, there are ways to imply that you might not be a juror that the attorneys for one side or the other are looking for. Some of those ways include:

  • Bias: While we all have biases, if you can indicate that yours is one that you will have a hard time overcoming for the sake of the trial, you are likely to be excused.
  • Expert: If you act as though you are an expert on the facts of the case, many attorneys will want to excuse you. Most attorneys are more interested in jurors who are relatively new to the situation.
  • Relatives: Do you have a close relative that works in law enforcement? If you have a connection to the case somehow, or a connection to law enforcement, many attorneys will decide to excuse.
  • Rebel: There’s a fine line between coming across as a smart juror who can follow directions and make a decision, and being a rebel. If you indicate that you are a free thinker/free spirit, or that you have a hard time following the rules, you might be dismissed.
  • Attitude: Sometimes, just having a bad attitude can be enough to get your dismissed. If you are going to be negative and difficult the whole time, the judge and/or attorneys might decide to send you on your way.
  • Extra enthusiasm: Believe it or not, but if you are especially enthusiastic about serving on a jury, there is a good chance that you will be dismissed. If you seem overly interested in being on the jury, there might be some question about whether or not you are biased, or have an agenda.

Using any of the tips above may very well get you excused from serving on a jury. If you don’t feel bold enough to act biased or pretend to be an expert, excessive optimism might do the trick. Regardless, be careful not to overstep as you consider trying to get out of jury duty.

7. Show your stubborn side

People don’t want a stubborn know-it-all on
People don’t want a stubborn know-it-all on a jury. | Brian A Jackson/iStock/Getty Images

When you act like a know-it-all, no one will want you to serve on the jury. Again, don’t lie about being stubborn, but expressing this particular aspect of your personality is a good way to keep from getting picked to serve on a jury.

Next: Dating this person almost guarantees you won’t serve.

Video

3. Use school as an excuse

Some students are exempt from serving. | maroke/iS
Some students are exempt from serving. | maroke/iStock/Getty Images

In some states, full-time students are exempt from serving jury duty if they don’t want to do it.

Not a student? No problem. Just sign up for a full course load right after you get your summons to avoid serving. And then you could even learn a new skill or start a brand new career path.

Next: This excuse covers a lot of ground.

Exemptions from Jury Service

You are not required to claim an exemption from jury service.

However, you may choose to be excused if you:

  • Are over 70 years of age (You may also request a permanent age 70 exemption.);
  • Have legal custody of a child younger than 12 years of age and your service on the jury requires leaving the child without adequate supervision;
  • Are a student of a public or private secondary school;
  • Are a person enrolled and in actual attendance at an institution of higher education;
  • Are an officer or an employee of the senate, house of representatives, or any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the legislative branch of government;
  • Have served as a petit juror in the county during the 24-month period preceding the date you are required to appear for this summons. (Applies only to counties with a population of at least 200,000 unless the county uses a jury plan under § 62.011, Gov’t Code, and the period authorized under § 62.011(b) exceeds two years.);
  • Are the primary caretaker of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself (This exemption does not apply to health care workers.);
  • Have been summoned for service in a county with a population of at least 250,000 and you have served as a petit juror in the county during the three year period preceding the date you are to appear for jury service. (This does not apply if the jury wheel has been reconstituted since your service as a petit juror.); or
  • You are a member of the United States Military Forces serving on active duty and deployed to a location away from your home station and out of your county of residence.

(Texas Government Code § 62.106. Exemption from Jury Service)

You must follow the instructions on your jury summons or contact the judge to find out what you need to do to be exempted from jury service.

Exemption for Physical or Mental Impairments or Inability to Comprehend English

A district court judge may permanently or temporarily exempt from jury service a person with a physical or mental impairment or with an inability to comprehend or communicate in the English language that makes it impossible or very difficult to serve on a jury. You need to contact the judge or the court to be exempted on this basis.

(Texas Government Code § 62.109)

Excuse of Juror for Religious Holiday

A prospective juror must be released entirely or rescheduled if the juror is required to appear in court on a religious holy day that is observed by the juror. You need to contact the judge or the court to be excused on this basis.

(Texas Government Code § 62.112)

Hardship Excuses

The judge may give you an opportunity to discuss any individual personal hardships that jury service may cause to you. The court has the discretion to hear any reasonable sworn excuse of a prospective juror and either release the juror from jury service or reschedule the juror’s jury service for another day. However, the court may not excuse a juror for an economic reason unless each party of record is present and approves the release. Listen for the judge to give you instructions about when to come forward to discuss your need to be excused based on some hardship.

(Texas Government Code § 62.110)

How to avoid penalties

As fun as it may seem, this is no time to pull a Liz Lemon. Never lie openly in court, or make false claims in front of the judge—you could end up paying for it with jail time. In cases where the judge thinks you’re trying to make a mockery of their court, they have the right to sentence you to a jail term of up to two years. That’s a lot longer than your jury service in the first place.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this web site is not intended to take the place of the instructions given by the judge or the court concerning any aspect of jury service. In the event of any conflicts, the instructions and procedures given to you by the judge or the court should be followed.

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