Sunday, April 10, 2011

Can I Get Out of Jury Duty?

When you receive a jury summons in the mail it is required by law that you appear at the place listed on the summons. Being summoned for jury duty does not guarantee that you will actually serve on a jury. In fact, many counties in Georgia allow you to call the weekend before to see if you even need to be present for jury duty during the date listed.

Many people have ideas about how to get out of jury duty, but there are only a few ways to legally avoid jury duty in Georgia:
1.      be seventy years old or above and sign an affidavit from the Clerk of Court’s office asking that you be removed from the jury list,
2.      be permanently mentally or physically disabled with an affidavit from your doctor,
3.      no longer be a resident of the county which summoned you to jury duty, or
4.      be a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored as the result of pardon.

You can request that the Court make a onetime deferral or postponement of your jury duty date if you are
  1. engaging in work necessary to the public health, safety, or good order during the time you have been summoned,
  2. a full-time student,
  3. the primary caregiver of a child under six years of age,
  4. a primary teacher in a home study program,
  5. on active-duty military status, or
  6. able to show “other good cause.
Even if you fit into one of the categories above, the Court does not have to grant you a onetime deferral. You need to make a formal request in writing to the Clerk of Court for the county in which you were summoned to make your deferral request. If granted, the deferral may delay your date of service, but it will not remove your responsibility to eventually fulfill this duty of citizenship.

Don’t count on a deferral! Recently, the owner of the New York Giants was unable to obtain a deferral when he told a Federal Court that he would be unavailable for jury duty because of the upcoming NFL draft. ABAJournal 4/6/11.

Some people think that appearing as a bad person will automatically get you out of jury duty, but be careful, “an incensed federal judge sentenced a racist Brooklyn woman to indefinite jury duty on Tuesday after she trashed the NYPD and minorities.” NYDailyNews 4/6/11.

The good news is that being part of jury duty allows you to see firsthand how our local judicial system works. “The jury is responsible for correctly deciding the facts which are in dispute in a given case . . . . a juror's duty is one of responsibility and importance.” Jury duty is one of the most important civic duties you can perform. Instead of trying to get out of jury duty, why not embrace your chance to participate in the protection of rights and liberties our judicial system provides!

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