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From what I have heard of the selection process for jury duty it seems as if anyone who makes an argument for why they can't or shouldn't be a juror is excused by the judge, no matter how flimsy the argument. I assume the reason judges are so lenient with exceptions is because they don't want to risk a juror being resentful of their position, as it could bias them against one side or keep them from putting in a proper good faith effort to fulfill their responsibility as a juror.

I'm wondering how far a judge would take that mindset. Are they willing to let a juror go just to avoid resentment if the juror otherwise has no excuse to not be a juror?

So hypothetically Lets say that I am called for Jury duty tomorrow and I don't want to be a juror. There are plenty of ways I'm sure I could get myself dismissed; From the obviously like constantly shouting "hang them all" to the more 'subtle' like giving a dissertation on why I think jury nullification is such a swell idea. However, lets say I am unwilling to do anything remotely unethical and admit I don't have any valid reason I should be dismissed as a juror. However, I tell the judge despite this fact I really don't want to be a juror because I think it would be boring and I prefer to sleep in on the mornings.

What are the odds the judge would let me go anyways, just to avoid having an unwilling juror?

  • I served jury duty recently. I suspect it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from day to day. However, my experience was: I showed up. They paid me some money. I waited in an uncomfortable room. I drank tea. No one asked me any questions. After a while, they told me I could go home and gave me a letter excusing me from jury duty for the next 3 years. I did not see any judges. – emory Mar 18 at 22:05
  • @emory That is my experience as well, and In reality I actually would prefer to serve on a jury. It would be a novel experience, I think I'm well suited to making an informed but impartial decision, and I'd even make some minimal income in addition to my usual salary for the day that my company would still pay. But I'm still curious what would happen if someone tried the blatant approach to getting out of jury duty. – dsollen Mar 18 at 22:09
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    This varies widely, and there is no way for anyone on this site to predict a specific case. But I have been present (waiting to possibly be selected myself) when several people presented reasons why they should be excused. The judge questioned them on the merits of their excuses, and only excused one of four. The judge also said at the start that anyone who lied about an excuse, would be found in contempt and would spend a day or two in jail. It may have been a bluff. – David Siegel Mar 18 at 22:20
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    @emory That article is a misrepresentation of the case. Reading the NY Supreme Court opinion on the appeal will make clear the reality of the matter. Not only did they hold that he needlessly used insulting language, but that the totality of his behavior, including his subsequent behavior and refusal to follow court orders, was the basis for contempt. I don't see anything about anyone claiming the juror was attempting to avoid jury duty, either. – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 at 15:52
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    @mkennedy This will depend on the case at hand. A case he anticipates it being easy to seat a jury for gives him the liberty of being generous in who he dismisses. Tougher cases that are likely to burn through prospective jurors due to counsel striking them or because of more legitimate and pervasive concerns ("tainted jury pool" being a common one you hear these days, from people hearing too much hype about a case before the court even gets started) means they can't dismiss jurors that easily. And "I have patients that need me" is way different from "I'd rather be sleeping right now". – zibadawa timmy Mar 20 at 2:09
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Nobody wants to be a juror.

Well ... almost nobody. The pay is awful, the responsibilities are huge, the work is boring, and everybody else is telling where to go, when to go there and how long to stay. Plus you get the bonus of being in close quarters with 11 strangers with whom you (probably) have nothing in common.

Judges know this.

They don't let you off just because you don't want to be there.

There are actually criteria that they apply (assuming it gets to the judge, most jurors who will be are excused before they get to the courthouse by administrative staff). For example, in NSW:

In terms of the Jury Amendment Act 2010, you may have 'good cause' to be excused if:

  • jury service would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you or your family you have a disability that makes you unsuitable or incapable of effectively serving as a juror, without reasonable accommodation

  • there is a conflict of interest or some other knowledge, acquaintance, or friendship that you have, which may result in your being perceived as lacking impartiality as a juror

  • you have a permanent mental or physical impairment that makes you incapable of doing jury service, or that would injure your health if you were to do jury service.

The sheriff may also consider excusing you in other circumstances, including if you:

  • are a sole trader or contractor

  • have care of school aged children and are unable to make other care arrangements

  • are in an advanced stage of pregnancy and/or are having medical difficulties during your pregnancy

  • have a medical condition which would make Jury service onerous

  • are an emergency service operational employee

  • are enrolled in education and need to attend lectures or exams, or you're living outside your jury district to undertake your studies

  • have a mental or physical impairment

  • are absent from New South Wales

  • have transport difficulties, such as unsuitable or unavailable public transport

  • are unable to read and understand English.

If you don't meet the criteria, you won't be excused.

Getting yourself "dismissed"

There are plenty of ways I'm sure I could get myself dismissed; From the obviously like constantly shouting "hang them all" to the more 'subtle' like giving a dissertation on why I think jury nullification is such a swell idea.

No. Those things will get you jailed for contempt of court until you agree to do your jury duty and not act like a dick.

I tell the judge despite this fact I really don't want to be a juror because I think it would be boring and I prefer to sleep in on the mornings.

So does the judge - if she has to be there, she's going to make damn sure you are too.

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    If anyone gets to the part about being absent from "New South Wales" and are confused: this is all specific to the New South Wales area of Australia. You might have noticed that from the link, but if you were confused later on you probably didn't. I don't think there is a major difference in how a judge in the US would handle this, especially OP's more ridiculous suggestions, but it's technically for a different region than specified in OP's tags. – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 at 5:05
  • I would love to be a juror, but, I am of perverse mind, that is for sure. – dsolimano Mar 19 at 12:15
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So before you serve on a jury in the US, you go through a process called voir dire. The judge will ask some questions, mostly of the "do you know X" or "have you been in situation Y" variety. If you have something to answer, you'll stand up or raise your hand and the judge will call you to the bench with the lawyers for each side and you'll give a statement why that question applies to you. The judge will normally ask if your answer means you cannot be an impartial juror. If you try a "I hate the defendant's race" or similar outburst, expect more probing questions about whether your belief is real. At the end, the judge will dismiss some for cause, the lawyers will use their strikes and the judge will announce the selected jurors.

Answering a question in the affirmative does not automatically disqualify you, I've seen jurors selected even though they answered several questions, or was the type you would think would get dismissed. Both the judge and lawyers don't particularly care if you want to be a juror, they mostly want jurors who will be favorable to their side (the lawyers) or impartial (the judge).

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