How to get out of jury duty

Happy Labor Day!

What if you’ve been called to jury duty and want to labor instead, like a friend’s busy MD/PhD wife? The husband’s advice: “Told her to wear a Trump shirt there.”

Is that permissible? The rules:

Is there a dress code for jury duty? Performing jury duty is a serious obligation, and people reporting for jury duty should dress in a manner that indicates respect for the court and the people who are relying on the jury to resolve their disputes. While there is no specific dress code, in general you should avoid clothing that is excessively casual, revealing, or in bad condition when you report for jury service. If you are impaneled on a case, the judge may give you additional guidance on appropriate dress for a sitting juror.

Readers: Would it work? And Happy Labor Day! If you do have jury duty next week, I hope that it is an interesting case.


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Proving Major Financial Hardship

When you first receive a jury duty summons, read the fine print carefully. Each jurisdiction has different rules about your eligibility for an exemption from jury duty, and the letter that you receive should outline the process for appealing your selection.

The jury duty laws in most locations include a clause allowing people to remove themselves from the jury pool if serving as a juror would cause major financial hardship. In the state of New York, for example, potential jurors can petition to be excused from jury duty for a period of two years if it would cause them “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience.”

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Many people feel that they suffer hardship or inconvenience by serving jury duty, so you’ll need to show that you’re a special case. In order to prove that you would suffer financial hardship by being on a jury, gather as much supporting documentation as you can. If you’re a one- or two-person shop, for example, you could raise that as a potential issue. Or if you have business loans that have strict repayment schedules and you just can’t take a few weeks off work, that’s also good for a judge to know. The impact of missing payments because of jury duty could wreck your business credit scores, costing you thousands down the road in increased finance costs or lost business opportunities. (You can see where your business credit stands for free on

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When making your case, you’ll need to argue that your income will be seriously harmed by having to be away from your business for an extended period of time. For example, if you run a donut shop and you’re the only one who knows the secret recipe, serving as a juror means that you’ll have to close the shop during the trial, which will have a major impact on your revenue and cash flow.

Whatever happens, the worst thing that you can do is ignore the summons. Depending on your location, you might face fines or even jail time if you don’t show up on the appointed date.

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Reasons to write a jury duty excuse letter

Generally, the court makes its decision on a case-by-case basis, so there isn’t a standard letter to get out of jury duty. And, federal and state courts have different rules for accepting a getting out of jury duty letter. If you have a special circumstance that makes serving jury duty difficult at the time of the request, you must be honest when appealing to the court.

Before writing a letter to be excused from jury duty, understand some of these general reasons the courts may excuse you or your employees.

Federal courts

According to the United States Courts, the following groups might be excused from jury duty service:

  • People over 70 years old
  • People who have served on a federal jury within the past two years
  • People who serve as volunteer firefighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew
  • People experiencing “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience”

If you fall under any of these categories, you can write a letter to the clerk of court. If you claim that you are experiencing undue hardship or extreme inconvenience, you need to explain what it is. For example, if serving jury duty would result in financial hardship, detail it in your letter.Jury duty excuse letter

In addition, federal courts do not allow members of the armed forces who are on active duty, members of fire and police departments, and public officers of federal, state, or local governments to serve on juries.

State or local courts

Like federal jury duty, state and local jury duty excuses vary. And, each court also has different rules. Generally, you should detail financial, medical, work-related, and family issues if these will hinder your jury duty services.

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Let’s take a look at Ohio jury duty laws. If you are called to serve on a jury in Ohio, you can be excused if your attendance will materially injure the public, a relative is dangerously ill or has recently died, you are a cloistered member of a religious organization, you would experience extreme physical or financial hardship, you are over 75 years old, or if you are a member of a recognized Amish sect.

You will need to check with your state to learn more about reasons why jurors may be excused.

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