Jury duty is an important civil obligation, and those called to serve in North Carolina may find few acceptable excuses available to them. The public policy of this state, set out in the statute, is that jury service is the solemn obligation of all who are qualified.
Jury Duty in North Carolina
The jury pool in North Carolina is refreshed frequently. Under the law, every two years a three-person jury commission for each county must compile a master jury list of licensed drivers and registered voters. The jury commission blends the lists and, when jurors are required, names of jurors are selected at random from the master jury list. Once the names are drawn, the court prints a jury summons and issues it by mail to jurors.
The state requires that jurors be at least 18 years old. And any juror called to serve who is over 72 can opt out of serving. This is the North Carolina jury duty age limit, although senior citizens can serve if they wish to.
North Carolina Jury Duty Exemptions
In North Carolina, jurors must meet several criteria to be qualified to serve. If they do not meet any one of the requirements, they cannot serve as jurors and are essentially exempt. Jurors in North Carolina must be:
- Citizens of the United States.
- Residents of the county where the summons was issued.
- 18 years old or older.
- Physically competent.
- Mentally competent.
- Able to understand English.
Other categories of people who are exempt are anyone who served as a juror during the past 24 months, anyone who served a full term as a grand juror in the last six years, and anyone who has been convicted of a felony, unless her citizenship rights have been restored.
North Carolina Jury Duty Excuses
Nobody should underestimate the importance of a jury summons. Even though a summons arrives by mail carrier in North Carolina, it is an official court summons. Anyone who fails to appear can be found guilty of contempt of court. The judge can impose a $50 fine for each and every time a person fails to show up.
North Carolina courts have a reputation for preventing jurors from getting out of service. The way a prospective juror asks for an excuse or deferral are not uniform around the state. Each county determines its own rules. The jury duty summons notifies the prospective juror of how to proceed.
Usually, when someone is called and wants to be excused or deferred, she must contact the Clerk of Superior Court office. Only compelling excuses will excuse a juror from appearing on the assigned date. Several excuses that are accepted include:
- Full-time student at an out-of-state university.
- Being an elected official.
- A breastfeeding mother.
- Police officer or a firefighter.
- Having a disability that makes service difficult.
- Being over 72 years old.
- Having a documented medical reason that prevents service.
Other North Carolina Laws About Jury Duty
A person may or may not be paid by their employer while serving as a juror. North Carolina law forbids an employer from taking any detrimental action against an employee who serves on a jury, but it does not require that the employer pay the employee in full while on the jury.
A juror does get paid for serving on a jury, but not very much. In North Carolina, jurors get $12 for the first day of service and $20 a day after that. Anyone who serves more than five days gets $40 per day. Those serving as grand jurors receive $20 per day.
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