You will be called for jury duty one day – I guarantee it. If the state, city, or county knows that you exist, you will get a summons to appear for jury duty at least several times in your life. And while we really should all be willing to do our civic duty when called upon, sometimes the timing or location of said duty doesn’t work for us at all. So instead of just ignoring the summons as inconvenient and throwing it in the trash (which can land you in contempt of court), you should try to reschedule or get out of jury duty this time, and hope it’s a while before you are asked again. But how do you get out of your civic duty of being a jury for one of your peers? Try on some of these excuses for size. While some are entirely legal and legit, and some are just plain silly (and possibly illegal), it may be worth the effort to give some of them a try if the timing of your jury duty doesn’t fit in your schedule.
1. Request a date change – You can probably safely get a date of service change just by asking the court.
2. Dress horribly inappropriate for your age/gender – I want you to think “Mid-80’s Madonna Attending A Circus” for this. The other jurors will be scared of you, the lawyers will be afraid to ask you any questions, and the judge won’t want Madonna or a circus in his courtroom.
3. Mention you are a felon – Of course, you have to actually be one to do this, but if you get selected for jury duty and they didn’t know you were a felon, make sure to tell them.
4. Have a baby or an elderly person at home – The primary caregiver for either a baby or an elderly person can usually get out of jury duty pretty easily.
5. Sold your car AND your bike? – Back when I lived in California, I got my jury duty summons moved to both a closer court and a different date because I had no way of getting to the courthouse they wanted me to come to. I didn’t own a car and public transportation didn’t go where I would have needed it to go!
6. Be away from home – If you aren’t home and on an extended vacation in Europe or even the next state over, they can’t expect you to cut short a trip just for jury duty. Ask for a date change.
7. Talk in circles when questioned by lawyers – Believe me, if I was on trial for something, the last thing I would want was a crazy person on the jury deciding my fate… and your defense attorney wouldn’t want it either.
8. Get a note from your doctor – Notes from your doctor can get you out of all sorts of appointments and commitments. You pay for insurance or doctor visits, so be sure to use them to your advantage.
9. Is your long-lost Uncle a cop? – Be sure to somehow slip that in when being questioned. Some lawyers may not want someone close to law enforcement to sit on their jury.
10. Get drunk before you show up – Risky? Yep. But alcoholics who are drunk at 8am will probably be sent home early.
11. Be biased – Be biased against the crime, the location, the race of the perp, the color of the rug in the courtroom. Admittedly biased people have no place on a jury.
12. Spill your darkest secrets to the lawyers – Ever been the victim of a crime that could sway your opinion of the case at hand? Be sure to let them know about it.
13. Buddhists get off jury duty – My friend, a Buddhist, has gotten off jury duty 3 times just by being Buddhists. It’s against his religion to pass judgement on others. I am sure there are clauses in other religions that could also be used.
14. Be a student – If jury duty could affect your grades or your chance at graduation, you can probably get out of serving just by asking. Although, now that I think about it, my college professor didn’t care that I missed a mid-term because my dad died, so maybe some judges don’t care either.
15. Moved out of the county asking you to serve lately? – Let them know – Instant removal from service.
16. And finally, a last ditch effort? – Use a George Carlin line and tell the judge you can tell if someone is guilty just by looking at them. That should do the trick if all else fails.
Have you gotten out of jury duty before? Care to share? While we should all be willing to do our duty and serve if we can, sometimes you just need a way out.
*Disclaimer – I am not responsible if you end up in jail and on trial by a jury of your peers should you attempt any and/or all of the items listed above and get busted!