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#191 Requesting a Jury Duty excuse

mp3 #191 How may you be excused from Jury Service (mp3 file)

Anyone who does not have legal residence in the state of California is exempt from jury duty. If you are a legal resident of another state, you are not required to serve on a jury in California, even if you have a California driver's license. Everybody else must serve on jury duty, unless they can prove that jury duty would be a hardship for them.

You may be excused; if serving on a jury would cause undue hardship on you or on the public you serve. Each court, through its rules, spells out its requirements for undue hardship. Some examples of undue hardship are: having to travel a long distance to the court where you are to serve, or having no transportation readily available to get to the courthouse. If you live more than a specified distance, from the courthouse, you may be excused. Another example of undue hardship is extreme financial burden, or risk of economic loss. In some counties, for example, you may be excused when you own or operate a business which you have to close in order to serve on a jury. Another example is where you are the sole support of your family, and you work for an employer who pays you only for the time you work, and does not reimburse you for lost wages due to jury service.

If you claim that you cannot serve because of physical or mental incapacity or disability, you are required to get a letter from your physician, describing, among other things, the nature and extent of your incapacity or disability and how long it will last.

If you have a personal obligation to provide necessary care for another person, and it is not feasible to make other arrangements for that person's care, you may be excused on the basis of undue hardship. Here again, it will be necessary for you to furnish proof to the jury commissioner indicating that the person being cared for is in need of your daily regular and personal care. An example of this is a situation where a parent cannot arrange for the care of his or her infant or pre-school children. Still another situation is if you are responsible for the daily care of a sick relative.

A final category of undue hardship is if you have appeared for jury service during the past 12 months in any local or federal court. The jury commissioner will require written proof of your previous jury service.

Peace officers may now be excused from service in any type of case with clearance from the jury clerk.

If you want to be excused from jury duty for any reason, you must apply to the jury commissioner's office in your county in writing, and show that your reason is important enough to justify your release from jury duty. The policies regarding undue hardship vary widely from county to county. Most counties prefer to reschedule you to a convenient date, when appropriate arrangements can be made, rather than releasing you from service.

Jury service is your obligation as a citizen.

You may not be excused from jury duty merely because it is inconvenient for you or your employer. The California labor code states that your employer may not fire you or take disciplinary action against you for taking time off to serve on a jury, as long as you give your employer reasonable notice that you have been called for jury service.

If you fail to report for a jury service as previously ordered, the court may determine that you are in contempt of court, and may impose a fine on you or place you in jail, or both. If you have a reasonable excuse for failing to report for jury service, you should call the jury assembly room as soon as you can to arrange for a new date, to avoid the possibility of being found in contempt of court.

If in doubt about your situation, please feel free to contact the jury assembly room in your county, for more complete information.

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