Jury duty is something that most people dread. Many people simply throw away the jury duty summons they receive in the mail, while others show up to court doing everything in their power to avoid serving.
Government jobs and other large employers continue to pay employees serving on juries, while small businesses generally do not. Those that are self-employed also get no real compensation. Some people have dependents or individuals they care for who cannot be alone all day while the caretaker serves.
First, it is never ok to lie to a jury commissioner or to a judge in order to get out of jury duty. The consequences for lying can result in heavy fines or in criminal contempt charges, with jail time as a possibility.
Also always be sure to be excused from jury duty by a judge or jury commissioner. Never fail to show or leave early because you assume that your reasoning would have been valid. Requests to be excused are reviewed by the courts on a case by case basis.
All that being said, there are legal and legitimate ways to avoid serving on a jury.
#1 Way to Get Out of Jury Duty – If You Can't Be Fair, Say So
If you believe that all insurance companies are pure evil and the facts of a specific case don't matter, a trial involving a claim of a "bad faith" insurance policy denial is not for you. If you believe someone arrested is automatically guilty and the evidence cannot change your mind, you have a bias that will not allow you to serve in a criminal case.
Attorneys who see a potential ally will do and say almost anything to rehabilitate a prospective juror who says he or she can't be fair. Don't blindly agree with leading and rehabilitative questions if you honestly believe you aren't capable of rendering a fair verdict based on the evidence and nothing else.
#2 Way to Get Out of Jury Duty – You Don't Currently Live in the County That Issued the Summons
This seems relatively simple. Surprisingly, however, summonses are regularly issued for out of county residents. People who live near county lines often move to a neighboring county. If your residence is outside of the area where you are being asked to serve, you're in luck.
#3 Way to Get Out of Jury Duty – Financial, Medial or Other Extreme Hardship
While every hardship excuse is considered on a case by case basis, judges understand the complexities of life and are generally sympathetic. If you are the sole provider for your family and won't be able to pay the rent if you are not at work, speak up. If you are the sole caretaker for another person (such as an elderly parent or disabled child) and cannot afford to pay another person to help, make sure the court knows.
#4 Way to Get Out of Jury Duty - Reschedule For a Better Time
Most counties in California allow for the postponement of jury duty to a later time for no reason. If a postponement has already been requested, another can certainly be granted by a judge. For example, if you are a student you may have only been allowed one short, automatic postponement, while a judge may allow another so that you can serve while not during finals or while on summer or winter break.
#5 Way to Get Out of Jury Duty – You've Served on a Jury in the Last 12 Months
California only requires service once a year. This excuse is an automatic waiver – just make sure to be officially excused. The Jury Commissioner or judge will not know you've served recently unless you tell them.