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Missing Jury Duty: What Happens?

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. | Last updated on

An Oregon man found out that being "extremely bored" doesn't make skipping jury duty okay. Grant Faber, 25, "just couldn't take it" anymore so he decided not to come back to jury service from a lunch break. The judge, understandably displeased, put out an arrest warrant for Faber based on contempt of court. Now Faber's situation was pretty extreme, considering he did actually show up and just decided to leave in front of the court's face. But what happens in the run-of-the mill case where someone accidentally, or due to unforeseen circumstances, missed jury duty?

The rules and penalties on missing jury duty vary depending on where a person lives, but jury duty is mandatory everywhere. Facing jail time for missing jury duty, however, is not common and a lame excuse and/or an angry judge might be prerequisites. Judges would probably prefer not to add more of a burden to the system by throwing someone in jail, after all. Penalties for skipping jury duty can be either civil or criminal, but often take the form of monetary fines. Furthermore, it might not achieve much to skip jury duty, as states and judges will still require that the jury service be served.

These days many states have laws and procedures that try to make it easier for citizens to fulfill their civic duty to serve on a jury. For example, most states have a flat-out requirement that employers let their employees take time off for jury duty, and some employers take this a step further by voluntarily offering a certain amount of paid time off for it (only a few states actually require that). Employers are usually prohibited from retaliating against employees that take time off for jury duty too. Lastly, many states are creating much shorter terms for jury service, termed "one day-one trial". This requires jurors to serve for either the length of "one day" or the length of "one trial", which decreases the practical burdens on both employers and employees.

As for Grant Faber, although he could face jail time for his behavior, another ironic option available would be to sentence him to jury duty.

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