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9-Year-Old Gets Jury Duty Summons: 'What's a Jury Duty?'

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

Boy, does Jacob Clark have a good excuse for getting out of jury duty: He's only 9.

But that didn't stop the Massachusetts court system from sending young Jacob a summons to serve on a jury in his local Orleans District Court. "I was like, 'What's a jury duty?'" the third-grader told the Cape Cod Times.

Jacob's grandmother helpfully explained that jury duty meant he could skip a day of school. But when she added that jury duty also meant he could face people accused of doing some very bad things, the boy's smile turned upside-down.

"He said, 'I don't want to go! I don't want to go!'" Jacob Clark's grandmother told the Times.

Nine-year-old Jacob is not alone. Countless Americans who receive a jury-duty summons try to find some way to get out of it. Legitimate excuses generally assert an undue hardship or inconvenience for the summoned potential juror. In some jurisdictions, elderly potential jurors can also be excused.

Massachusetts' court system lists 10 potential disqualifications for jurors. They include being a primary caregiver for a disabled person, prior jury service in the past three years, a lack of English proficiency, and being under 18 years of age.

The "under 18" provision obviously disqualifies Jacob Clark from jury duty. His father called the court, which blamed the erroneous jury summons on a typo: Someone had entered 1982 as Jacob's birth year instead of 2002.

Because Jacob's father acted quickly, the situation was cleared up over the phone. But if parents ignore multiple jury-duty summonses for an underage child, they may eventually have to prove their child's age -- or face possible legal consequences, the Times reports.

Nine-year-old Jacob Clark also isn't alone in receiving an underage jury-duty summons. Such mistakes happen about once or twice a year, a Massachusetts jury commissioner told the Times.

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