Five Tips on How to Get Out of Jury Duty

Charges Against U.S. Air Force staff Sgt. Timothy Woodland in Okinawa

Jury nullification

Every juror is asked the question in some way, shape, or form: “Do you believe that you can judge the case solely on the basis of the facts and the law, and not on your opinion of whether or not the law is right or just?” And this is where you show your bias and disagree with the law  in some way. (For example, if it’s something drug-related, you could say that you believe that all drugs should be legalized in the United States.) It’s pretty easy to find something that you argue against when it comes to most cases.

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Chris is a graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and FIlm. He has been writing for TVOvermind and Uncoached for two years and has written about numerous different television shows and pop culture topics. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13).
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  • David

    Using Jury Nullification is a bit trickier than this. The Judge and Attorneys will ask you follow up questions when you announce your views on Jury Nullification. You do not need to say anything pertinent to the case to use it. You just need to say you can not take the oath they give you because of your firm belief in Jury Nullification and it’s historic use in this nation’s legal history. They will ask how it deals with the case and you just respond that you have no way of knowing until deliberations.

    They may ask about it’s historic context. It was used in Revolutionary times to prevent sending citizens to jail for what was perceived as unjust laws and was also used in the Jim Crow south to prevent sending peoples responsible of hate crimes to jail. It has both its good and bad issues.

    In the end the Judge will ask you to explain more. Simply put, ask him if he would have convicted Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubmen. They both broke the law, but the laws were unjust. A savvy judge may ask you one question further if he doubts your views on the subject. He may say the law is the law, to which you reply that that was not an acceptable defense for Nazis tried for War Crimes.

    If you read up and study Jury Nullification(It takes maybe 1-2 hours) you will have everything you need to know about it. Also, you will wholeheartedly believe in it and that makes using it that much easier.

    • Chris King

      Thanks for the comment, David! That’s some great info that I’ll definitely be sure to look up myself.

  • changocoy2

    Or you could just tear up the jury summons and ignore it. They don’t have the resources to actually go after you, and you could deny ever receiving it. Saves you from having to take the one day off work to use any of the excuses in this article.

    • aerial_assault_tc

      I’ve moved a lot in the last eight years so I’m certain I’ve missed a couple summons due to them being sent to the wrong address, yet no one’s come to arrest me yet.

  • changocoy2

    As for Jury Nullification, that is the main reason the justice system is so screwed up, because they no longer allow it. How many jurors would actually convict someone for breaking the law by not wearing a seat belt for example? I am sure many would, but freedom loving Americans sure as hell wouldn’t, and it would most likely result in so many hung jury’s they would be forced to repeal the law due to losing so much money trying people for such a stupid law.

  • Good citizen

    Or you could do your civic duty as a citizen that has grown up in your city, state, and country and benefited from the public services that were provided to you. Not to mention your safety. I hope you never run for office Chris.

    • brent

      I don’t owe anyone anything. I pay my taxes for those services. And benefited from my parents and grandparents also paying those taxes for over 100 years. If anything, they owe us.

  • Darin John Hocking

    Regarding # 3 I actually have been robbed at gunpoint so it would not even be a lie

    • aerial_assault_tc

      Same here. Well, I was held up, the robber didn’t get any money from the till, but it was still scary as hell.

  • Joshua Thirteen

    Here’s a thought. Do your duty as a citizen. Don’t get out of it unless you genuinely have a good reason.

  • B3stet

    These excuses all seem fine in context, and probably work most of the time in most places in the United States. Don’t try these in Los Angeles County in CA. (and expect them to work more often than not) There are stiff penalties such as bench warrant for refusing to respond to a jury summons. Your employer also is not required to pay you your wages while you serve on a jury…yet you cannot use that as an excuse (financial hardship) to get out of jury duty here hardly ever. In this economy, this is tragic, you lose wages to serve on a jury, then when you return to work, you get the pink slip for not being able to work because you were serving on a jury or had to at least “report” for jury duty. Jury Nullification rarely works for the majority of the population…if most of Los Angeles County had to be polled on the views, lets just say…nobody would get a fair trial. Some potential jurors don’t even know what nullification is, and many would not even be able to spell it for that matter. The medical excuse will sometimes “buy” you some time, but only 12 months before they will send another summons usually. The pool of potential jurors is getting smaller because there are more citizens who have criminal histories, this will get you either excused, or not even summoned in the first place.

    Most attorneys know the tricks, especially in Los Angeles, and they already really really have ideas in mind for the kind of people they want on a jury…maybe your attempt at Jury Nullification will make them salivate to have you on a jury rather than want to send you on your way. Just a few observations in the Jury Summons game at least here in a large metropolitan city.

  • Chris K

    Here’s what I do, it has worked 2/2 times so far, when you get your first appointment go up to the judge in the courtroom and say you recently had surgery on your ankle and need to keep your foot up or it gets swollen and hurts a lot. I have a scar on my ankle but the judge never asks to see it and lets me leave in less than a minute after I arrive. I’ve only done this twice but it worked both times

  • Kyle Nmn Untertzuder

    Sadly, I have one of the most effective “Get Out Of Jury Duty” cards possible. My brother-in-law was wrongly convicted of a crime, based partially on exonerating evidence withheld by the State investigative agency and crime lab, and served 17 years in prison before being completely exonerated, released, and (partially) compensated. Absolutely no attorney would allow me to serve on a jury.

  • Mark M

    It’s my civic duty to never convict someone against a fascist government. Put me on a jury all you want, I don’t care the facts of the case. My vote is not guilty and nothing will sway me otherwise. Unless it’s a cop on trial, and then it’s automatically guilty no matter what.

  • Rick Shultz

    The court system in this country has not dispensed real justice in over 120 years. Poor people who cannot afford expensive attorneys to defend them wind up going to prison whether they actually committed a crime or not, and rich jerks who are guilty as sin get a pass because they can afford some ferret-faced shyster who can get them off. It’s a complete gigantic cluster-phuk and I don’t care if they hold me in contempt of court, I will have nothing whatsoever to do with it, and I’ll tell them that to their faces.