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Many people consider it their civic duty to show up and serve when called for jury duty. There are some cases, however, in which a person may have a situation or condition that makes it difficult for him to serve on a jury. In such a case, a person may seek to be excused from service. It’s important to understand, however, that lying in order to be excused from jury duty is against the law in most places. Ignoring a juror summons is usually illegal as well.
An individual's chances of being excused from serving on a jury may depend on the jurisdiction in which he is called to serve. Usually, a person has a chance of being excused if he can demonstrate that serving would create undue hardship for him. For example, if an individual has an illness, disease, or condition that makes it difficult or impossible to serve, a court may excuse him from jury duty. In many places, however, a person would have to present a doctor's note confirming the illness or condition in order to be excused.
In some places, a person may be excused from jury duty because he has to care for small children and has no one to take his place. Likewise, this excuse may be accepted if a person is caring for a dependent relative who cannot be left alone. Accepting such an excuse is often up to the discretion of a judge. In fact, some jurisdictions provide child care for jurors, eliminating lack of child care arrangements as a viable excuse.
Sometimes people ask to be excused from being a jury member because of financial hardship. For example, a person may state that he cannot afford to lose time at work. While jurors may receive a small stipend, this amount is typically very low and not enough to compensate a worker for a day away from work. In some jurisdictions, courts are unlikely to accept financial hardship as an excuse while others may make exceptions for those who can show proof of serious financial issues that would be aggravated by time away from work.
An individual may ask to be relieved from jury duty because he believes he will be fired for missing work. In most places, however, laws protect employees from being dismissed because they miss work to serve on a jury. On the other hand, students may be excused from jury duty in many jurisdictions. They may have to provide proof that they are enrolled in school, however, and state that jury duty would interfere with their studies.
If a person has a legitimate engagement, problem, or event that would make it hard for him to serve on a jury on a particular date, he may be excused from jury duty temporarily. For example, if a person will be away on his honeymoon, he can request a deferral until a later date. He will usually be expected to serve when his deferral period is over, however.
Since jurors are expected to be impartial, a person may also be excused from jury duty if he claims to be unable to make a fair or unbiased decision. It's important to keep in mind that many prospective jurors use this as an excuse, however. As such, courts may be skeptical when hearing it again.