For some, getting a jury summons is a chance to perform an important civic responsibility, but for others it may feel like little more than punishment for a crime never committed. While every U.S. citizen, including the President of the United States, can be called to serve, you have the right to appeal for jury excusal from the court. You may write a simple letter citing any special circumstances or valid reasons that might prevent you from serving. Remember though, the list of valid excuses is few and far between. The following guide may help you either temporarily postpone or be excused from jury service.
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Check online for your state's applicable laws for a list of legitimate jury excuses. Keep in mind that all states do not follow the same statues or laws. For example, California exempts breastfeeding mothers from serving up to one year, whereas many other states do not. Some valid reasons for jury excusal include being the primary caregiver to a young child, a change of address outside of your court's jurisdiction or a medical emergency.
Call the courthouse phone number listed on your summons. It is a good idea to discuss your circumstances with the clerk first, as he may be able to save you some time by telling you if your excuse is valid or not.
Begin typing or neatly handwriting your letter in business letter format. Include the date, your mailing return address and your juror number. Your letter can be informal, but should begin with a declaration of your inability to serve as a juror. For example you may write something as simple as, "I am requesting deferral/excusal from jury service because ..."
Explain in detail the reasoning or circumstances that prevent you from serving. If your excuse is only temporary, provide another time in which you would be available to fulfil your jury duty.
Include any documentation or proof that validates your excuse along with your letter. Check with the court clerk or your summons for any possible required materials. For example, when citing a change of address, you must provide a personal utility bill, a property tax bill or a copy of your driver's license, which contains the new address.
Make a copy of the letter for your own records.
Seal your letter in a stamped envelope and mail it the court address provided on your summons.
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