Jury duty, though a civil obligation, can be unduly burdensome at times. This is especially true for individuals who work on an hourly basis or for an employer that does not pay employees for days they are serving on a jury. Courts are sympathetic to these situations, and can grant exceptions or deferments to individuals who request to get out of jury service. Before making your request, ensure that your situation actually qualifies you for a financial hardship exception.
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Read your jury summons for an explanation of how to request an exception or deferment. The collection of forms you received in the mail to notify you of your jury duty should include a sheet of instructions or a form for exception requests.
Find a box on the exception request form that says "financial hardship" or "undue hardship." If this box does not exist, find one that most closely matches your circumstances. If a form was not included, look for instructions regarding requesting a hardship exception or deferment. Some jurisdictions require that you submit a letter, while others require that you call the courthouse.
Include any supporting information required by the courthouse. These items will be explained on the form, in the instructions or over the phone. Most jurisdictions require a letter from your employer stating that you will be required to take a vacation day or will not be paid for any days that you miss as a result of jury duty. If you are self-employed, draft a list of projects on which you must work on the days of jury duty. If you are unemployed, supply a list of interviews or job applications you have on the days of jury duty.
Send the form or letter to the courthouse via the address supplied on the form or instructions. If no form or instructions are included, call the courthouse for information about how to send your request letter and any supporting documentation.
Tips and warnings
- Contact information for the courthouse will always be included on the summons. If you are confused about the process or unsure about how to request a hardship exception or deferment, contact the court. Every court is accustomed to requests of this type and will know how to assist you.
- Some jurisdictions will not grant outright exceptions, but will merely defer your jury duty to a later date. Your request must be approved every time you are sent a summons, so do not expect to be able to continually defer jury duty unless you have a valid reason.
- A jury summons is a court order to appear in court at the date specified on the summons. Do not simply ignore the order, even if you have a valid reason. You may be held in contempt of court and be required to pay fines or serve jail time if you fail to respond or appear.
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