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Legal How-To: Claiming a Hardship for Jury Duty

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

How do you claim a hardship for jury duty?

Most of us don't look forward to appearing for jury duty, but skipping out on it can lead to some serious consequences. However, regardless of which court has summoned you, you can always ask to be excused.

Not many potential jurors will have a legitimate enough reason for not serving on a jury that they'll be excused from jury duty entirely, but if you think you have a good reason, it might be worth a shot. If you want to attempt to claim a hardship for jury duty, here are some general steps you might be able to take:

  1. Check with the court. Each court has its own jury procedures and policies regarding jury service excuses. So while every court may have the option to allow hardship claims, it may work differently depending on your jurisdiction.
  2. Check your jury summons. You should also take a close look at your jury summons. The summons you receive in the mail will usually give you instructions on how to defer or claim a hardship. This may require filling out a form and mailing it in, or going to the courthouse in person to make that request. Don't delay, as there are likely deadlines to do so via mail or electronically.
  3. Call the court clerk. If your jury summons does not include any details as to how to claim a hardship, you can always call the court clerk for more information. He or she will likely be able to explain how to claim a hardship, if available.
  4. Show up for jury duty. If none of the above steps lead you to any answers, then you'll have to show up for jury duty on the first day. If the court allows for a hardship claim to be made, you'll likely find out then. If no mention of it is made by the judge, then you may have to abide by your civic duty and serve (and try to avoid being a bad juror).
  5. Fill out a hardship form. If hardship claims are accepted, fill out the form that the court clerk will pass around to all potential jurors. Make sure that you bring all necessary documents that prove your hardship. For example, if you're disabled, bring a doctor's note. If you're claiming a financial hardship, bring your pay stubs, etc. The judge will then either approve or deny your claim.

Lastly, don't forget -- if hardship claims are not accepted where you are, there's always the possibility of being weeded out of the jury during voir dire.

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