How to Be Excused From Jury Duty
Most people don't like to attend jury duty, but it's usually not an option for most Americans, though it's something many people try to avoid. For some, getting out of jury duty is almost like winning the lottery, because many people will miss work and lose money when they have to serve. Jury duty compensation pay is typically much less than the wages a person would be paid on a minimum wage job, so the payment usually doesn't help make the situation more enjoyable. Once a person gets a summons for jury duty, they must show up or at least give a good reason why they can't make it to attend. They can either give this reason by mail when they first receive the letter notifying them to be a juror, which asks if it will create a financial hardship for the person, or if that's not rejected or it's not just financial reasons, then they can try to explain to a judge at the jury selection screening. This screening happens before the actual trial starts, and a judge will ask you why you can't serve as a juror. Just keep in mind that when it comes to jury duty excuses, a judge has heard them all before and not everyone who requests an excusal will have good enough reasons to be excused or to get out of serving. So if you're curious as to what reasons a judge will accept for you to not have to show up and serve on a jury, here's some of the most common reasons that are accepted.
The most common excuse people use to get off the hook of having to do jury duty is they claim that it will cause a financial hardship for them. Examples of a financial hardship would be a person losing their job or their home if they attend jury duty. But you must first ask your boss or employer if their company will pay you for jury duty, assuming you're not self-employed. If your employer pays, you may have a hard time proving to the judge how it would cause you a hardship to serve. If you are self-employed, the judge may ask you to bring back copies of some of your bank statements or other financial records to demonstrate how serving will negatively affect you or you family.
This one is an automatic excuse if you can offer any proof or evidence to the judge that it's indeed true. A judge won't have you serve as a juror if you're barely surviving day to day life. In most cases, it's probably not so much that they're sympathetic to your problems, but more so, they realize you could turn out to be very undependable. They need jurors who will be there at the courthouse on time every scheduled day, and a homeless person can easily turn out to be the opposite of that. So this is similar to the financial hardship excuse, but a much more extreme one. Some type of proof they may ask for is a note from a local homeless shelter stating that you stayed there at least one night recently, or maybe even documents which prove you were evicted from your apartment or your home was foreclosed. I was personally homeless when I was summoned and the judge did not ask me for any proof or documents, so it all depends on the particular judge you end up talking to.
Certain people who have a debilitating illness or disorder are often excused. For example, let's say you had surgery done on you back and now it's painful for you to sit or stand for long periods without being able to lie down every hour or so. This type of disorder or chronic pain would most likely disqualify you as a juror. Another example that would most likely be excused would be a person with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). A potential juror candidate could argue that they must use the restroom frequently and that their bowel movements are too spontaneous to control while sitting in the jury box. Of course, if a person were to claim any of these things, the judge would almost certainly request for that person to return with a doctor's note to prove their claims.
If a juror candidate or alternate candidate shows up to the jury screening with an interpreter or translator, I think it's safe to assume that they definitely won't be serving on any jury. Since most jurors have to understand the English language to understand the details of most cases in the USA and to make reasonable decisions, no sane judge, prosecutor, or defense attorney would allow a non-English speaker to serve. This type of scenario is very common and non-English speakers often bring family or friends with them to the pre-screening to translate for them. As for proof, I doubt there's any reliable way for a judge to prove or disprove a person claiming to not understand English, so it's probably entirely up to his opinion and his discretion on a case-by-case basis.
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