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Not many people are anxious to be jurors and may look for ways to avoid jury duty. The right of living in a society that offers jury trial to anyone accused of a crime means that most people must occasionally be willing to support this right by serving on a jury. This is often a mandated part of living in a country where rights of the accused are significant. Still, there are some ways to avoid jury duty, if it is difficult to serve, and some people may be able to either postpone or be excused from performing this service. Citizens should be aware that attempting to avoid service by lying is often treated as a criminal offense.
One of the first things people might be able to do to avoid jury duty is to request a postponement. Perhaps the timing is just not right; a new baby has been born, a person is moving or other factors are occurring that would make putting off service attractive. Many courts give people the right to request a postponement for six months to a year, and people may even be able to make this request on the phone or online. They will need to remember they’re likely to receive another summons at the expiration of the postponement.
There are also some people who can, by occupation, avoid jury duty. These can include active military, rescue or police workers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and anyone providing care to someone who is either very young, or in some way dependent on the person for total care. Certain personal disabilities may make it possible to avoid jury duty too, including severe mental disorders, chronic pain conditions, and visual or hearing deficits. Anyone too ill to render jury service effectively can usually avoid service with a supporting note from a physician.
In most cases, people cannot avoid jury duty by claiming financial hardship, though they can certainly attempt this argument. Since many juries don’t provide equivalent compensation to a day’s pay, some people try to prove loss of funds threatens survival. People usually have to attend the first day of a summons to make their case, and the judge determines who to accept or dismiss based on what he hears.
Occasionally, people avoid jury duty if they are assigned to a case with which they have some kind of personal connection. They might know the accused, a witness for the prosecution, the judge, or they could be prejudiced by past personal history. When lawyers examine jurors during voir dire, they work to make certain that a juror can be impartial.
Someone with strong feelings about a subject may be excused because he or she isn’t impartial. When impartiality is discovered, the juror is excused by one of the lawyers. It must be stressed that potential jurors must give truthful answers during voir dire, and lying to get kicked off a jury is potentially criminal.
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