Legal Law

Can you get out of jury duty?

In some states, one can ask to be excused after being summoned to serve on the jury. Excuses are not accepted in other states. However, it can still be lowered, but at least one visit is needed for service. This is my personal experience with the New York Jury Duty.

I recently received a summons to serve as a jury. The New York courts no longer allow exceptions, so they can’t fire me even if I have a business. Also, only a postponement can be granted, which was of no use to me.

When summoned, one has to call every day for a week for instructions. They continue to select people from the panel of jurors throughout the week. If they don’t get to you by the end of the week, you are considered to have provided good service and they cannot call you back for six years. This may be different in your state.

As it turned out, I was instructed to appear in court on Tuesday at 9 a.m. M. I waited in the waiting room for three hours. Fortunately, they provided Wi-Fi, so I was able to provide email support to my clients through my iPad during that time.

At noon I was assigned a case, along with 30 other people. An officer led us into a courtroom.

The judge explained the case to us and said that the trial could last two weeks. The case involved a drug dealer who allegedly shot two policemen.

The judge called us to the stand, one by one, to meet with the two attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant. Any of them could refuse to accept us if they do not believe that we will decide in their favor for their respective clients. In that case, we would be fired. That is why they interview 30 people to get 12 jurors.

In my case, none of the lawyers felt threatened by me. However, the judge completed the interview by asking if I can honestly put my full attention on the case without being biased.

I responded by saying, “Two weeks away is a hardship. I have my own business and I need to be available to help my clients, otherwise I may lose my business.”

The judge asked what I do. I told him that I develop and support small business phone systems and need to be able to help clients in a timely manner when they have questions.

With that, the judge said, “I’ll send you back to the waiting room and they’ll assign you another case that won’t take two weeks.”

After waiting longer, they told me to go for lunch. I was unable to use my cell phone while in the waiting room, but during lunch I was able to return a few calls to customers.

When I returned they had not found me another case, so they fired me. They marked my record as “served” and therefore I cannot be called to serve on the Jury for another six years.

That was better than asking for a postponement. Just one day lost at work.

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