How to Get Out of Jury Duty

Jury Service as a Civic Duty and a Privilege

Your participation is important to Texas!

Both the Constitution of the United States and the Texas Constitution guarantee the right to a trial by jury. That right has long been considered a fundamental safeguard of each American’s civil liberties. With your participation as a Texas juror, our constitutional right to an impartial jury is protected. As noted by the Honorable Tom C. Clark, Texan and former justice of the United States Supreme Court, “The jury system improves the quality of justice and is the sole means of keeping its administration attuned to community standards.”

Jury service is a privilege that offers the average citizen an unequaled opportunity to influence and deliberate over fundamental matters of justice. As a juror, you are in a position of responsibility. You will need to be fair, impartial, and be willing to make decisions that are not based on your personal feelings and biases.

“The men and women who are called upon to serve on juries in both our federal and state courts have maintained a standard of fairness and excellence throughout the history of our country. They have demonstrated a vision and a will toward the administration of justice that is a wellspring of inspiration.”

-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1962)

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More Ways to Get Excused From Jury Duty

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

You Can Be Excused from Jury Duty for a Valid Reason

While it is called jury duty, that duty is not absolute. In other words, service is not required no matter what.

There are times when you are excused from jury duty. However, there must be a valid reason for it.

You cannot go to the judge with the jury duty equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” excuse and expect to not have to serve.

The key is in how you present your reasoning to the court. You are not expected to serve on a jury when it will cause you undue hardship.

How Much Money Do People Typically Earn From Serving on a Jury?

The good news is that if you are selected to serve, you will be compensated for your time on both a petit jury and a grand jury. Both typically pay a base rate of $40 a day. For a petit jury, the day rate increases to $50 daily once the trial has exceeded 10 days in length.

As for a grand jury, the day rate increases from $40 a day to $50 a day after serving 45 days on trial. All transportation, room and board fees (if jurors are serving out of state/county), meals, and parking are also covered during this time. You will receive your payment within 4 to 6 weeks. The pay rate for jurors can vary by state.

Payment policies vary among employers and states of residence, but many employees will still be paid their normal salary for an allotted amount of days while they serve as part of a jury. All federal employees are entitled to their full salary regardless.

The Jury Act was created to ensure that employers cannot wrongfully fire, harass, or intimidate an employee while they participate in jury duty; however, there is no law stating they must compensate you for your participation.

The Factors for Selection of Jurors in Illinois

Illinois makes a list of jurors every year in September based on a scan of the following:

  • Illinois driver’s licenses
  • Illinois state identification cards
  • Identification cards of people with disabilities
  • People who have claimed unemployment benefits

There will be a master list from each county. Every tenth person will be selected and placed on the list. From that date forward, until the next September, they can possibly be called for jury duty.

When selecting potential jurors to be summoned, the county clerk will be blindfolded. They will have box of names in front of them, and the box will be shaked.

They will literally pull names out of the box and those people will receive a jury summons.

Ask to be excused if you cant make it to court

In very rare cases, if it would be an extreme hardship for you to come to the courthouse at all to ask to be excused, you can submit a written request to be excused under OJC Regulation 9. Common difficulties such as inconvenience, no childcare, or business obligations don’t qualify. The regulation applies to cases such as:

  • People living in religious orders that restrict outside travel 
  • People with rare medical conditions that prevent them from leaving their homes

If you believe you qualify for an extreme hardship disqualification, you must explain your circumstances in writing, sign it, and send it to:

Operations Manager Office of Jury Commissioner 560 Harrison Avenue, Suite 600 Boston, MA 02118

You should submit your request at least 30 days before your date of service to allow time for review, action, and notification of decision.

How expensive are the fines?

Courts can fine jurors who miss their court date. They are more likely to fine jurors who miss their first and second summons, rather than just their first.

California law caps the fines at:

  • $250 for a first violation,
  • $750 for a second violation, and
  • $1,500 for a third or subsequent violation.

These fines cannot be imposed more than once every juror pool cycle.2

Are there penalties for missing a second jury duty date?

Missing the date listed on the second summons is more severe. It can lead to

  • fines or even
  • criminal contempt of court.

The issuing court can send a missing juror a failure to appear notice. This notice demands the juror appear in court. If no response is made to the notice, the court can impose a fine. It will also issue an order to show cause. This order demands that the juror explain why they missed their court date. A hearing can be scheduled.

Missing this hearing can be considered contempt of court.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this web site is not intended to take the place of the instructions given by the judge or the court concerning any aspect of jury service. In the event of any conflicts, the instructions and procedures given to you by the judge or the court should be followed.

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