How can I get out of jury duty? The question millions of people ask every year on receiving their jury duty summons.
Jury duty is an obligation of citizenship, but it is also allows us to actively participate in protecting constitutional rights and is one of the most important privileges of a free self governing society. Jury nullification provides jurors with tremendous power in providing justice. Jury duty also is an interactive learning experience.
I was summoned to report for jury duty on February 3, 2014. I was a defendant in a civil trial scheduled on February 17, 2014 and had a pretrial motion hearing scheduled for February 10, 2014. I sent the plaintiff and the court notice that I had been summoned for jury duty. I served jury duty for two days on three jury panels , but was not chosen to serve on a jury. I was able to observe the voir dire (jury selection) techniques of at least six different attorneys and learned things that I planned to use during my own trial. Additionally, I had a better idea of what the jurors have to endure and I planned on using that to my advantage. I never got a chance to use that new information because the plaintiff dropped their claims against me, so my case never went to trial.
Every time I enter a courtroom, it’s with the attitude that I’m entering an interactive classroom and have an opportunity to learn. Don’t cheat yourself out of the legal lessons you’ll gain from serving jury duty. My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to actually serve on a jury.
Tips to Survive Jury Duty
Before reporting to jury duty, check available parking and food options near the courthouse. Many court houses have public WiFi, call ahead to see if yours does. Jury duty involves lots of waiting, so be prepared to wait and take items with you to make you make your wait more enjoyable.
1. Laptop, iPod, portable DVD player, and of course headphones. Bring a book, magazines, newspapers, or crossword puzzles; there will be times when you can use your electronic devices. You might even bring work with you so you won’t be too behind when you return to work. These and other items will make the time pass faster.
2. Bring a jacket or sweater. Sometimes certain places in the courthouse can be chilly, even in the spring and summer. I borrowed one of my kids extra book bags to carry everything in.
3. Bring snacks, bottle water or other beverages and consider packing a lunch. The court house may not have many options for lunch or snacks. Many people may be released for breaks and lunch at the same time, so snack machines and cafeterias may have long lines requiring long wait times.
4. Realize you could be there all day, don’t expect to go home early.
5. If you get picked, realize this: There will be more waiting. Often, attorneys argue their points out of the jury’s presence.