Jury duty sounds great in theory — you get to see a real courtroom, watch proceedings, and even decide the outcome! But in practice, it involves a whole day of sitting in one spot and listening to the particulars of a case that might not be all that interesting. And unfortunately, it’s a civic obligation, so you can’t just say “No, thanks.” when they call you.
Here are a few ideas on how to get out of jury duty that definitely work!
1. Claim Financial Hardship
As a juror, you’ll have to come to court every day as long as the trial lasts. Usually, that means that you’ll be absent from work for a week, but sometimes, trials can drag on for much longer.
Now, jury duty isn’t that much different from a regular job — you’re there from 9 to 5, you have a lunch break, and you get paid for it. The daily wage is around $40–$50, and if your employer agrees to pay you for your time off, then great! But legally, they don’t have to. And that can be a problem, as well as a perfect excuse to avoid jury duty.
All you need to do is prove that the reduced income and time off negatively impact you and your family. The court might ask you to show your payroll or last year’s tax return to check if you’re telling the truth. So, make sure that you actually have grounds to claim financial hardship.
2. Say That You’re a Full-Time Student
In most states, full-time students are exempt from jury duty. Or rather, they can still be randomly chosen, but they may ask to be excused if the court proceedings interfere with their school. Some courts excuse part-time students too, especially if they attend an accredited university or college.
Of course, if you want to use this as an excuse, you need to show proof that you really are a student. Does that mean that you should enroll in a university just to avoid jury duty? Well, it’s not the worst path you could choose — you might even learn something new!
3. Be a Know-it-All
Fortunately for you, even courts don’t like know-it-alls. Generally, lawyers want people who will look at the evidence and arguments and form their opinion based on those. Someone who already believes to know everything about the case and refuses to change their standpoint is useless in the court.
So during the jury selection process, which takes place before the actual hearing, be loud and opinionated. Even if you’re not that sort of a person normally, put on an act for those few hours. You’ll be asked to go home in no time!
4. Emotional Instability
If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, lost a family member, or had some sort of an accident, the court could excuse you. After all, it’s extremely important that the juror is stable and collected during the trial. Of course, using these events to get out of jury duty means that you have to make your private life public, so consider if you’re comfortable with that.
Mental disorders and illnesses fall in this category too — if the lawyers believe you aren’t mentally capable of withstanding the trial or making a sound decision, they will let you go. So if you’ve decided to skip out on jury duty, mention your disorder.
5. Say That You Know the Case
You could receive a summons to jury duty for a high-profile case that gets some media coverage. Getting out of this is pretty easy — just say that you’ve read about the case or seen it on TV. You can’t be fair and unbiased if you know too many details beforehand, so the court will most likely let you go.
6. Say That You’re Involved With the Case
You don’t have to be a witness, the culprit, or the victim in order to be involved with the case. It’s enough to know someone who’s involved — whether they are your closest friend or just an acquaintance you greet in the street. As long as there is any kind of connection, you’ll be considered too biased to be a juror.
This rule is especially useful if you live in a small town and know almost everyone to some degree. Mention how often you and the victim chatted in the supermarket queue. Tell the interviewer that the defendant was always quite kind to your dog. These statements show clear bias, and that’s how to get out of jury duty!
7. Line of Work
If you work as a doctor, lawyer, or police officer, you’ll probably be excused from the jury. Your field of expertise gives you extensive knowledge that a regular juror shouldn’t have, so you’ll probably look at a case differently. Thus, if you’re wondering how to get out of jury duty, just mention your profession.
8. Say You Were a Victim of a Similar Crime
Let’s say that you’re invited to be a juror for a robbery trial. You really don’t have time or will to participate, so you’re wondering how to get out of jury duty. Well, it’s easy — just mention you’re a robbery victim too.
As a victim of a similar crime, you can’t be objective and fair. You’ll naturally show bias against the defendant, and that’s not what the court needs.
But careful, though — lawyers could check if your claims are true. So if they’re not, make sure to say that you didn’t report the crime at the time. That way, the court will know there are no records of it, and they’ll have to take your word for it.
It goes without saying that you can’t use this excuse for all crimes. It works for mugging and petty robberies, but if you’re a potential juror in a murder case — well, you see what the problem is.
9. You Already Served Recently
We have good news — if you’ve recently completed your jury duty, you don’t have to do it again. In this case, that means if you were a juror in a state or federal court in the past two years. The court still might summon you to serve, but you can simply say that you already did.
10. Express Your Opinion on Police
Remember how we said that being a victim of a similar crime as the one on trial makes you biased in the eyes of the court? Similarly, if you express an extreme opinion on the police, you’ll seem unable to make a fair judgment.
You probably immediately thought of saying how much you hate the police or deem them untrustworthy. And yes, that would certainly do the trick. The prosecution would ask for your dismissal in the blink of an eye.
But you could also say that your dearest friend is a policeman, which is why you trust them with your whole heart. This time, the defense would take issue with your statement and free you from your duty.
11. Tell Them You’re Taking Care of Children
Clearly, when choosing between children and jury duty, children always win. The court understands that. So if you tell the interviewer that you’re a primary caregiver for young children, they’ll surely excuse you. After all, being a juror is a 9-to-5 job, and you can’t leave a child alone for that long.
12. Give a Medical Reason
Maybe you’re suffering from an injury, or you’re expecting to have several doctor’s appointments during the trial week. Your health comes first, so the court will excuse you if you bring records of scheduled appointments or a doctor’s note.
And do you remember how you used to skip school with fake doctor’s notes? Well, you can try the same trick to avoid juror’s duty. Get a note from a doctor who happens to be your acquaintance and bring it to the court. Don’t worry — the interviewer likely won’t dig too deep into the whole matter.
13. Use Other People’s Techniques
You won’t be the only one trying to avoid jury duty, so use that to your advantage. Did someone make a really good excuse and got dismissed from the duty? If it worked for them, it’s likely to work for you too. With a few tweaks, you can use it when it’s your turn.
Make sure to do this at the very beginning of the selection process. Later on, it might become too obvious, especially if several people before you tried the same trick.
14. Postpone It
Finally, you can call to postpone serving in a jury if the time doesn’t work for you. You can put it off up to six months, and by then, they might somehow neglect to call you. It’s not likely, but it’s worth a try.
How to Get Out of Jury Duty — Conclusion
Opinions on jury duty are quite divided — some love it, and some absolutely hate it. If you’re in the latter group, that summons letter might be your worst enemy, but don’t worry. You won’t have to sit in a tedious courtroom now that you know how to get out of jury duty!