For some, getting a jury summons is a chance to perform an important civic responsibility, but for others it may feel more like a punishment for a crime never committed. Regardless of your feelings towards jury duty, if you receive a summons, the law demands that you report as directed. That said, there are a few reasons you can be excused or postpone your jury duty.
Check Your State and Federal Exemptions
Before filing for an excuse or postponement, check with the federal or state laws (depending on what type of court you’ve been summoned to) for a list of legitimate jury excuses. For instance, you might be excused from federal court jury duty if you are an active military member, employed as a police officer or fire fighter, or a public official. Exemptions for state courts will vary by state, but some common exemptions include medical, financial and family issues.
Letter Writing Tips
Since every jury excuse request is considered on an individual basis, there is no one correct way to write a jury excuse letter. When you sit down to write your jury excuse letter, start by including the date, your mailing return address and your juror number. Your letter can be informal, but should begin with a declaration of your inability to serve as a juror. For example you may write something as simple as, "I am requesting deferral/excusal from jury service because ..."
You should also detail your reasons for requesting an excuse from jury duty. Include reasons why being on a jury may disrupt your life. For example, if your workplace’s policy indicates that the employer won't pay for days lost because of jury duty or that doing so will count against your vacation or personal days, include that in your letter. Back up your excuse with documentation. If you are unsure of what to include, check with the court clerk or your summons for any possible required materials.
If you are just requesting your jury service to be delayed, then you should also be sure to suggest a new date that's convenient for you.
When you’ve finished proofing your letter, make a copy for your own records, seal the letter and mail or fax it to your court. Wait to hear back from the courthouse on their decision to officially release you from jury duty. If the jury administrator does not reply, follow up with the court clerk.
Before writing a jury duty excuse letter, you should call the courthouse phone number listed on your summons. It is a good idea to discuss your circumstances with the clerk first, as he or she may be able to save you some time by telling you if your excuse is valid or not.