How to Defer Jury Duty

By Legal Editor - Updated June 16, 2017
The federal judiciary of the United States

How to Defer Jury Duty. It's virtually impossible to "get out" of jury duty, but if you have a good excuse, you can sometimes defer service until a later date.

Check the date you are to report for jury duty as soon as your jury summons arrives.

Refer to your calendar to see if there is a reason you might not be able to serve on that date. Are you getting married, having a baby or taking a non-refundable expensive vacation?

Consider other situations that may be reasonable excuses for deferring jury duty. Would serving be a financial hardship? Are you the primary caretaker for someone at home? Or, you may have recently served jury duty and think the summons is a mistake.

Call the court (the number should be on the summons) and give your reason. Be sure to have an alternate date of availability when you call. If you're not excused over the phone, you must appear on the date specified on your summons.

Appear in court as directed. Again state your reason for wanting a deferral when the opportunity arises for jurors to make such a request.

Be cooperative and polite no matter what happens. Being demanding or acting outraged will not help - and may hurt - your cause.

If you are excused, expect to receive another jury summons when your stated availability date comes up.


Courts are notorious for turning down requests to be excused. What you think is a good reason may not be good enough in the eyes of the judge, so be realistic. Unless your excuse is found to be valid, chances are your request will be turned down. There are a few legitimate reasons for being disqualified completely from jury duty. Check with your county or state court system for a list of these.


States and counties have individual laws regarding penalties for not appearing in court if you have been sent a jury summons. If you are thinking of ignoring your summons, be aware of the consequences.

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