So, I wake up this morning and I have a text from an out of state buddy. “Hey man” it starts, “I got called to jury duty and I need to be out of town on Thursday. How can I get out of it!?!?”
I get this question all the time. People HATE jury duty. Until they actually serve on a jury that is. The folks who have served on a jury tell me that it was one of the most “American” things they have ever done. Yes, I know the “hurry up and wait” process is horrible (welcome to my world) but as a juror you really get to take part in one of the things that make this country great. The “right to a jury trial” is guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Mississippi has this right embedded in our Constitution as well.
But there are legitimate ways to get of jury duty so let’s look at those:
- Will being on a jury result in a serious financial loss to you? If so, you can be excused but the Judge may require more information than just you saying this.
- Must be 21 years or older. Please don’t bring a fake I.D.
- Must be able to read and write. But since you ARE reading this I guess you don’t qualify for this exception.
- Can’t be a convicted felon. (Should have hired Coxwell & Associates!)
- Can’t be an habitual drunkard. However, non-habitual drunkards are permitted.
- Can’t be a common gambler. Uncommon gamblers are apparently ok.
- You must not have been convicted of illegally selling alcoholic beverages within the last 5 years. Obviously this law was on the books when Mississippi was a dry state.
- Can’t have a case currently pending in the court in which you are asked to serve as a jury.
- If you are over the age of 65 you can be excused automatically. Once again, no fake ID’s!
- If jury duty would cause a personal hardship to you you can be excused as well. And no, listening to boring attorneys for a week is NOT a personal hardship.
Jury duty is one of the true great rights we enjoy as citizens. Twelve (or six) people actually get to sit as the “Judges of Fact” and decide if a person is guilty or not guilty of a crime, is entitled to money for the harms and losses suffered, whether a contract is valid, and various other matters. Your vote actually matters too. If you are on a criminal case, one juror can disagree with the other 11 forcing what’s called a “mistrial”. Not too many countries allow its citizens to sit with such power.
Although there are valid and legitimate reasons to escape jury duty, you should consider how sacred this right is to United States citizens. Don’t take it lightly. There is a serious push by Insurance companies and “Big Business” to take away our “right to a jury trial”. Arbitration clauses, which I blogged about in the past, are becoming routine in consumer transactions such as mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.