Being called to serve on a jury is a duty many Americans dread. While participating in this responsibility is one way to ensure a free and fair democracy continues to function, it can sometimes be difficult for prospective jurors to find the time and support to make the necessary sacrifices in order to serve. This inconvenience causes many to question just how to get out of jury duty. Often, there are legitimate, legal reasons to do so.
Not every item on the following list will be applicable to everyone, and specific rules vary by court, but there are certainly a few things worth trying. But remember: This list does not constitute legal advice, and lying to the courts is perjury - which is a crime - so always be honest about your need to be dismissed from jury duty.
Once you've made it into a courtroom for jury selection, the voir dire examination will begin. During this process, the judge and lawyers will speak about the case and ask questions about your qualifications and history. Lying during this process can result in serious punishment, but if realize you have a personal interest or connection with the case (such as knowing someone involved), speak up. Doing so may result in your dismissal.
Qualifying for a medical exemption is one way to get dismissed from jury duty. When sending out a summons, courts assume you are physically and mentally fit to serve, so a doctor's note stating otherwise may be enough to have you relieved of your duty. Be sure it is a real doctor's note describing a real condition you have, and check your local laws to see if your condition disqualifies you from serving.
The most foolproof way of avoiding jury duty? Serve on a jury! If you have served on a jury in the past 12 to 24 months, you likely won't be called to serve again until after the one-year mark has passed. For most people, it's years before they're called again. But be aware that federal and state courts operate independently and that courts may use different annual calendars.
Courts want jurors who are willing to hear both sides of a story and weigh all the evidence carefully. People with "strident" views might not possess these abilities. So, if you have thoughts on a trial that might reflect an inability to be impartial, voice them. Maybe you'll get dismissed. But be aware: If expressing those views constitutes hate speech or harassment, you could face a different set of legal consequences.