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Woah, I got a Jury Duty Summons!

by Ryan Guina

Actually, I think this is pretty cool. I have received quite a few jury summons in the past, but this is the first time that I may actually have to serve on a jury. I was previously automatically exempted from jury duty because I was an Active Duty military member (Texas does this, but I am not sure about other states).

I’ve always thought serving on a jury would be interesting, and it’s part of my civic duty, so I don’t mind. Actually, I welcome the opportunity. My only concern is that I don’t get stuck in a 6 month long murder trial. But that idea probably comes from reading too many John Grisham books and watching too many movies like The Runaway Jury (based on a John Grisham novel), or the modern day classic Jury Duty, starring Pauly Shore.

The reality is that I may not even get past the initial jury selection. I’m sure the jury selection process will be a lot of sitting around and waiting, so I will bring a book and a notepad and be prepared for a little light entertainment while the lawyers question other prospective jurors.

Jury Duty and work

I suspect I may be in the minority here because my job gives employees excused time off with pay while employees serve jury duty. The law does not require employers to pay their employees while they are on jury duty, though they may if they wish. However, the law does require employers to allow workers time off to perform jury duty, and employers cannot fire employees simply because they miss work to serve on a jury. I’m sure there are many people out there who simply cannot afford to serve on a jury because it would cause them undue financial hardship.

Jury Duty Exemptions

There are many valid jury duty exemptions, with rules varying by state, county, parish, etc. The best course of action is to check with the court from which you receive a jury summons for more information.  In addition to exemptions from jury duty for military service (some states require military members to serve, but military commanders can overrule this if it will affect mission capability), there are many other exemptions. Common exemptions include health reasons, caregiver status, undue financial hardship, certain professions such as policemen, firefighters, and emergency workers, full-time students, convicted felons, and more. There are simply too many specific exemptions to list them all. Here is a list of federal jury duty qualifications, exemptions, and excuses.

This is only a summons – not an official notification of selection

Right now, I have only received a jury summons, which basically means, I “may” be required to serve on a jury. I need to call the courthouse the night before the date of report, at which time I will find out more information about my reporting duties. I may find out at that point that they do not need me. But I will gladly serve if called.

Beware of Jury Duty Scams

There is a jury duty scam going on where thieves pose as jury coordinators. They tell you you never showed up for a jury summons and threaten to issue a warrant for your arrest. When you protest, they request your personal info (DOB, SSN, etc), which they then use to steal your identity. NEVER give out personal information over the phone!


Published or updated February 27, 2011.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FFB

I hope if you have to go then your experience is good. Being on a case can be interesting but it’s the waiting for a case that stinks. One time on jury duty I had to wait three days in the waiting room before I was even needed on a jury selection process. That’s a long time to sit in a room!

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2 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I heard a comedian once that said, “It’s a scary thing to realize that your fate is in the hands of 12 people who weren’t even smart enough to be able to get out of jury duty.”

I think it would be an interesting experience though, so long as it doesn’t drag out for weeks. I had a good friend that was a juror on a homicide case that lasted over 3 months. Her entire life was up in the air until it was over.

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3 Ryan

FFB, I’ll be sure to bring a couple books then!

Ron, I agree, it should be interesting. I wouldn’t look forward to a 3 month case though!

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4 Frugal Dad

I had a criminal justice teacher in high school that absolutely despired jury duty, but he got summoned right and left! He walked in for jury selection and told them, “I’m an ex-Army Ranger, retired police officer and I teach Criminal Justice.” They said, “Dismissed.”

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5 Emily

I served on a jury for a homicide. It took just under 3 weeks and was a really great experience. I learned a lot and felt very good about serving. I certainly don’t feel that I wasn’t smart enough to get out of it. I wanted to serve and am proud of it, especially considering the outcome.

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6 Ryan

Frugal Dad: That will do it every time!

Emily: That seems like an interesting experience. I feel the same way – I am not going to try and get out of it. If I am selected, I will serve, if not, it’s no problem.

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7 Four Pillars

I did jury duty about 12 years ago – it was a fascinating experience. The hours were very easy and it lasted for about 2 weeks which was a nice break from work.

In the end we were sequestered overnight in a hotel because we couldn’t come to a decision (which we did the next day).

I actually wouldn’t mind doing it again.

Mike

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8 Jarhead

Have fun with that.

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9 deepali

I got a summons and the selection was for a civil personal injury. It involved a situation that I had personal experience with, so I said I couldn’t be unbiased. The second selection was for a drug trafficking case – there were about 100 of us in the room. They didn’t get to me.
And that’s my exciting jury duty story. :)

Around here you get summoned every 2 years (like clockwork). I will be out of the country next time around.

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10 Giz

I received a jury summons but havent been called yet. My work is giving me pay for the time off. So am i required to go to work if I am not called? or should I continue to wait because at any time i can be called?

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11 Ryan

Giz: You should normally be given a report date and time. In our district we are required to call the night before to check the status. If your trial has not been canceled, then show up as required and you will be given further instructions at that time. They will either select you as a juror or alternate juror and you will be required to serve on the jury, or they will tell you your services are not needed and send you on your way. The court house administration personnel should provide a note for your work. If you were dismissed from the jury, then you have no further obligations and should go back to work (and you should turn in your note to your HR Department or whoever manages your time sheet). Good luck!

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12 Htun

I got it yesterday. I had not idea befor I read this article. I am not a citizen and have been in the US for one year. I asked my teacher and she said good experience. Do I need to call them even i am not a citizenship?

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