Jury Duty: Can I Get Out of It? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Jury Duty: Can I Get Out of It?

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So if there is one question that I get more often than ANY other question is...

How can I get out of jury service.  And when I say I get it asked this all the time I mean by everyone---friends, colleagues, even my mom and dad.  Let me just put this out there for you all to hear—I WANT TO BE ON A JURY.  I AM DYING TO BE ON A JURY.  I want to get back there, hear jurors talk, listen to what matters—like does it matter what the lawyers or witnesses wear?  Do jurors care about objections?  Does it start with an initial vote?  Is the loudmouth the natural foreperson?

I know, I know all this sounds fine and dandy for ME to do….but you have work, kids, financial worries, hate judging other people, can't handle the waiting, and on and on.  Well before I tell you the rules I am going to lecture you just for a sec with the YOUR CIVIC DUTY SPEECH.  Well, a modified version.  Here it goes very simply:  DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SYSTEM AND THEN CHEAT AND LIE TO GET OUT OF IT.

Put another way, if you want to have juries of peers, be a peer and participate.  Seriously though, if you live in California you are more than likely going to get a jury summons…. Probably like once a year.  (And as a quick factoid ---jury summons are generated by drivers license and voting records)   As a matter of fact, you do not need any special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror. All you need is an open mind and a readiness to work with the other jurors to make decisions.

To qualify for jury duty, you must:

1. Be a citizen of the United States;

2. Be able to read and understand basic English;

3. Be a resident of the County of Los Angeles;

4. Be at least 18 years old; and

5. Not have been convicted of a felony or malfeasance in office. (If your rights have been restored by a pardon, or your record has been expunged, you may serve on a jury if you are otherwise qualified)

6. Not currently on a grand jury or on another jury trial.

No one is exempt because of his or her job, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or economic status.

Minimum and Maximum Age Requirements

You are required to be at least 18 years of age to serve as a juror. There are no maximum age limits for jury service as long as the juror feels he/she has no health issues that would prevent them from serving.I know you are thinking well, there has to be ways I can get out of it.  Like by saying, "everyone is guilty, everyone is innocent, I am racist, I don't believe in the death penalty, I  am related to a lawyer, I am friends with Robin Sax.   It's all been done.  We, lawyers (and judges too) have all heard these excuses and not only do they not work but the lawyers and judges love to punish these people and have them sit through the voir dire longer, or send them to different court rooms. Or even worse FOR you, send you to a civil panel as opposed to a criminal case.  The reality is you are more likely to get kicked for being you than trying to get off with these clearly lame excuses.

There are a few valid ways to get out of jury duty that work so long as they are true.  Be prepared to show proof but you may be ineligible to serve as a juror if:

  1. You cannot understand English
  2. You have a debilitating illness
  3. You will face extreme financial hardship

Many people comfort themselves with jury service by citing the one-day one trial rule.  While there is a one trial rule, the rule itself needs a little clarifying one day/one trial does NOT necessarily mean you only have to serve one day.  If you are asked to report for service and are not selected on any case on the day you are asked to report, your term of service is complete. But if you are selected to serve on a trial, or need to complete voir dire (process of being chosen as a juror on a trial) the term of service will be the length of that trial. And as a side, the average trial lasts 5 to 7 days.

Have a legal question for me?  Post them on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/fox11la

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