I’m a pretty patriotic guy and want to do what’s right. But there’s one thing I can’t stand. One thing that drives me up the wall. One thing that sets my skin on fire. That one thing is inefficiency. That’s why today you’ll learn how to get out of jury duty.
I somehow keep winning the civic duty lottery and keep getting summoned. I just got my third letter in the mail! Like I said before, it’s not the idea of serving on a jury that bothers me. I like the idea of contributing to society by judging others. (Kidding.)
A little jury duty backstory.
The thing is, the jury selection process is nothing like what you see on TV. It’s not a quick yes or no. It’s a week-long process of getting herded in and out of a courtroom with a couple hundred other people waiting to find out if your name is called and a lot of waiting.
I might like a little “doing nothing,” but sitting in a crowded and uncomfortable wait room with no wi-fi is not as refreshing as it might sound.
There are multiple court cases being considered, so If your name doesn’t get called for one – back to the wait room until the next one. Over and over and over again.
So during my time in purgatory, I watched which jury duty excuse could gain sympathy points from the judges, and which ones flat-out annoyed them.
I also asked some lawyer friends (that’s right, I know people) how to get out of jury duty and make them yell PASS!
My time matters to me.
The first time, I would have never asked how to get out of jury duty! The second time I was tempted. This time – I’ll be using my trusty tricks and maybe even stretch my wings to see what I can get away with.
Read more about why
Doing Nothing is the best goal for high achievers.
10 things you can do in your spare time to become ultra-successful.
Why Financial Independence is NOT about money. It’s about TIME!
But also, don’t get carried away with trying to get out. You might enjoy your time “off” a lot more if you don’t obsess over getting it over with.
So here it is. How to get out of jury duty.
11 Jury duty excuses that work.
Be a slow processor.
It’s not a jury duty excuse but this is the one that ultimately worked for me, so it’s first on the list!
Where I live, lawyers are only allowed to ask one prescribed question during jury selection. I found the wording confusing, so I had to read it over.
They didn’t like that.
When I got called again, I used the same trick but did it with a confused look on my face. Worked like a charm.
Are you Deaf? You are now!
My uncle is hard of hearing and he milked that all the way out of the courthouse. When anyone talked, he’d fiddle with his hearing aid and look around to everyone else for a reaction.
No one wants a deaf guy to determine their fate.
“Your honor, we find the defendant guilty of adding too much cilantro to his soup. What’s that? He slayed Alejandro at the zoo?! Ah well, still guilty.”
Special note, it’s not enough to just say you’re hard of hearing. You have to fully commit.
Is English a barrier for you?
People tried to use that excuse when I was in jury selection, and it didn’t fly. “You seem fine to me,” the judge said. However, if English truly is your second language, you can feign a little extra processing time to see how it pans out.
Show an automatic reaction.
This one may have come out accidentally because I wear my expressions on my face. When I walked into the room for my question, I was genuinely surprised. The prosecutor didn’t seem too keen on my reaction, so showing a bit of visual concern (or even being somewhat dismissive) may be enough to get you dismissed.
Next time I’m going in though, I’ll be trying “Ooooh!” I’ll report back with how it goes.
Mention if you know someone involved in law, law enforcement, or who is currently in the middle of a legal process.
If this is true for you, you might even be automatically dismissed.
Prove economic hardship.
If there’s just no way you can be tied up away from work right now – that might be enough to get some sympathy from the judge. You’ll likely have to prove it though, and you won’t be completely off the hook. But you never know.
On the other hand, I saw people try to use this as an excuse and it only seemed to annoy the judges. Civic duty is a civic duty.
Have an excuse letter showing you are working on something critical or that you just started a new job.
I’ve provided letters to my employees stating that they are working on something critical (which is true) and it seemed to do the job. They didn’t have to take any time off work, anyway.
As a manager, I’m very motivated to not lose my employees for extended periods of time and so is our HR, so we’re more than happy to try every trick in the book.
I write something along the lines of “this project is a matter of regional security” (which is true) and give a date when the critical period will be over. (See below.)
That said, your employer cannot penalize you for attending jury duty and trying to use work as an excuse may push the judge to make an example out of you. Yep, saw it happen.
Ask for a deferral (preferably in December.)
Asking for a deferral instead of being dismissed may do the trick. You’re not annoying the judge by trying to “get out of jury duty,” but you’re still getting out. If you ask for a deferral to December, your name might even get overlooked amidst all the holidays.
You could also come in, overstuffed with turkey and fart a lot. That’s pretty strong “non-verbal communication.”
Bring a medical note.
If you’ll be having any medical procedures in the next few weeks, or you’re sick – that can’t be overlooked. It might be a good time to fit in a few specialist appointments, heheheh.
Be prepared to show proof with a medical note though, instead of just pointing at your leg and saying Owie.
Are you a primary caregiver? Tell them.
This is state-specific. Being a parent of small kids or caring for a sick relative doesn’t always get you off the hook, but no one can blame you for expressing concern or trying to make alternative arrangements.
Are you a student?
Being a student may not automatically qualify you to get out of jury duty, but in many cases it should. The judge probably won’t want to provide an excuse letter for you to miss your midterms, labs, or lectures.
Don’t use this excuse if you’re not actually a student though.
FAQ – How to get out of jury duty.
What is the best excuse for jury duty?
There is no single excuse to get out of jury duty. Excuses like employment or economic hardships may gain a deferral from some judges but only annoy others. Appearing to be a slow processor during jury selection may be the best way to be eliminated.
Can you refuse to do jury service?
In most cases, you cannot refuse jury service as it is a civic duty. Refusing or avoiding jury duty can even be considered an offense. However, there are some exemptions that can apply, ranging from medical to economic hardships depending on what proof or excuse letter you can provide.
How do you avoid jury selection?
This is region-specific. If you are summoned for jury selection and you have a legitimate excuse why you cannot attend, you may be able to mail it in. However, in many cases you have to show up on your assigned date to ask for a deferral and provide a substantiated reason.