Certified Criminal Law Specialist in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ

How do I get out of jury duty?


So you received your summons to appear for jury duty.  You want out.  You have better things to do with your time.  You cannot miss work.  You have children to take care of.  You have restless leg syndrome and cannot sit still for any period of time.  How do you get out of service?

Our Constitution guarantees us the right to trial by our fellow citizen sitting in judgment of our conduct.  Jury duty is therefore one of the most important duties we have as a citizen of this Country.  Without qualified jurors the system would come to a complete stop.

However, there are certain requirements.  You must be a citizen of the United States. You must be a resident in the jurisdiction summoned to serve.  You must not have a felony conviction and not had your civil rights restored.  You must not be adjudicated mentally incompetent or insane.  A.R.S. Section 21-201.

If you meet the requirements, you may be excused under certain situations.  If you have a mental or physical condition that makes you incapable of jury service.  But you must have a doctor’s statement and this statement must be in writing and provided to the court ahead of time.  Your service would materially affect the public interest or welfare in an adverse manner. You are not capable of understanding English.  Jury service would cause you undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.  A.R.S. Section 21-202.  What all the legal jargon means is that it is really difficult to get out of service without a really good reason.  Judges hear excuses every day and have little patience for bogus reasons why you cannot be a juror.

If you “willfully and without reasonable excuse” fail to attend service, the judge may issue what is called a “body attachment” and have you picked up by a deputy sheriff.  You may be fined up to five hundred dollars and be required to serve another day. A.R.S. Section 21-223.  I do not think you want this to happen to you.  But more importantly, you should be honored to do your duty and serve as a juror.

There may come a time when you, a friend, or a loved one are facing criminal charges and claim to be innocent.  There may come a time that you are involved in a serious traffic accident and are suing for your injuries.  There may come a time that someone posts a defamatory lie or picture on Facebook and you wish to sue for the pain this caused you.  I would guess that you would want intelligent and caring citizens to listen to your case and make a sound decision.  You want justice.  Therefore, next time you get that summons, consider yourself fortunate to be able to perform a critical function in our system of justice.

[Robert J. Campos is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a criminal law specialist.  His analysis of the law is based on Arizona law and the United States Constitution.  This article is for general information only.]

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