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Jury duty is a civic responsibility, but the court recognizes that it can be a hardship. People who need to postpone jury duty for any number of reasons can make arrangements to do so by returning the jury summons with documentation explaining why they need to postpone. It is also possible to request disqualification from jury duty, if a prospective juror meets certain requirements that would disqualify him from serving at all.
A typical jury summons will provide information about the date and time of service and the location of the court. On the back, information about options to postpone jury duty is available. If jury service on a given date would be a hardship, the juror can request that the jury service be rescheduled to a different date in the relatively near future. Depending on the court system, jury duty usually need to moved to a date within the next year.
There is a list of valid reasons on the back of the jury summons that people can use to indicate why they need to postpone jury duty. Some courts ask jurors to pick a different date, while others will simply reschedule the summons to a different date. Usually work is not considered a valid reason to postpone jury duty, but legitimate reasons can include medical issues such as a late-term pregnancy that could interfere with juror service or an inability to get to the court. This form is signed under penalty of perjury and people should not falsify information to try and postpone jury duty.
In disqualification, a juror indicates that she is not fit to serve as a juror at all. When a juror is disqualified, the jury duty will be canceled, not postponed or rescheduled. The juror form also includes a list of potential reasons for disqualification. Some typical reasons for disqualification include: age, as jury service is not required for underage people or people over a certain age; being a lawmaker with a legislature currently in session; being a judge; being a convicted felon or current prisoner; having a disability that would make jury service difficult or impossible; citizenship status, as only citizens are required to complete jury service; and prior service on a jury within a recent period of time, or upcoming jury service, since the number of times that people can be required to serve within a set period of time is limited.
There are some situations that will not be allowable for disqualification or postponement at the time the summons are sent, requiring the juror to attend court to explain to the judge why she cannot complete the jury service. It is important to respond to these summons because the judge can choose to issue warrants for people who do not comply with jury summons.
I have only been summoned to jury duty one time in my life, and I tried to postpone it by claiming my job was vitally important and no one else could replace me if I were asked to serve on a sequestered jury. They didn't believe me, so the request for postponement was denied. I heard from other people that it's nearly impossible to use employment as an excuse to postpone jury duty.
Fortunately for me, I was excused during the jury voir dire process. It was a case where the death penalty might be in play, and I told the attorneys and the judge that I could never sentence a person to death because it was morally wrong. The prosecutor excused me right away.
I recently had to ask a federal court to postpone my jury duty because I am a caretaker for an elderly person over the age of 70. That was one of the acceptable excuses printed in the jury summons letter. I don't think it will work if there are others in the area who could perform the same caretaker duties. In my particular case, I'm the only immediate relative in the area.
I had to register my juror summons online first, then fill out a request for postponement form. I put in all of the pertinent information about her medical condition and how I was the only person available to handle her medical emergencies. The next day, I logged into the court's online status website and discovered they had approved my request for postponement.
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