You've been summoned! If you're like many Americans, your first thought when receiving a summons is likely to be "how do I get out of this?" This may be especially true if you've never served as a juror before. The process can seem simultaneously intimidating and like a huge convenience, but serving on a jury is an important civic duty. While it is easy to find a variety of tricks that claim to get you out of your obligation, it can also be rewarding to approach this key part of our judicial system openly and honestly. Keep reading to learn some useful information to help you get through your first jury adventure.
Be Prepared for a Lot of Waiting
The jury selection process is mostly about sitting or standing in waiting rooms. There's a good chance that you'll spend most of the day waiting, so make sure you're prepared to keep yourself occupied for this time. You should also check the court's lunch schedule (usually available online) beforehand. If lunch is later in the day, you may want to bring some snacks to munch on while you wait.
This is without a doubt the most frustrating part of the jury selection process, so it is important to bring whatever you need to stay occupied and happy. You won't be doing yourself any favors if you're annoyed or frustrated once you're in front of the judge and attorneys for your interview.
If You Have a Legitimate Financial Hardship, Bring it Up!
A common complaint among potential jurors is that they cannot afford to attend jury duty for a day. Although employers are generally required to provide time off for jury duty, not all states require that employers provide paid time off. This means that you won't lose your job because of a jury summons, but may lose out on pay. If you are a contractor or otherwise self-employed, missing work may mean lost clients or other negative business impacts.
If you have legitimate concerns about your financial situation, you need to bring them up with the court. Although you are not guaranteed to be excused, in almost all cases you will be if you can prove that an actual hardship exists. The court is not interested
Getting Out of Jury Duty Isn't Hard, But That Doesn't Mean You Should Do It
Believe it or not, the court has no interest in conscripting a panel of unwilling jurors. "Do you want to be here?" isn't a question that you can expect to be asked, but that doesn't mean you need to come up with elaborate excuses. In most cases, you will be de-selected if either attorney believes that you cannot be fair or partial. Just because it's easy, however, doesn't mean that you should do it. Serving on a jury is a privilege, and if you do not have a legitimate hardship or conflict you should seriously consider taking the plunge.
Once you are through the inconvenience of waiting around for your interview, you may find that the process of jury selection and ultimately serving on a jury can be a rewarding and even enjoyable experience.