Five Ways to Escape Jury Duty

Last week I had the privilege of participating in the jury selection process. As a romantic suspense author, I was probably one of only a handful in the room who weren’t dreading the possibility of being picked.

There were a hundred and fifty of us sandwiched onto padded benches (and I use the term ‘padded’ loosely). After several hours sitting on those uncomfortable seats, I had serious doubts that I could survive sitting on a jury for three weeks with my back.

Thankfully, it didn’t come down to that.

The court clerk pulled close to a hundred numbers out of a barrel to pick the 12 required jurors and 2 alternates, but my number never got picked.

For those of you who may face this prospect in your future and want an out, here are the top five ways to win a by…

1) Plan an out of town vacation for the following week with flights that can’t be cancelled. The judge is very understanding and will excuse you, but…be warned that you may be recalled six months from now for another jury selection.

2) Get to know as many lawyers and judges and police officers in your town as you can before the big day. Because…if you know any of the lawyers, investigating officers or the judge trying the case, you’ll be excused.

3) Dredge up your dark secrets. If you used to have a drug problem and the defendant is being charged with cocaine possession, admit your problem, chances are the judge will excuse you. Alternatively, start hanging out with criminals. If you know the one on trial, you’re out.

4) Become your family’s sole bread winner. Better yet, have your own business, which can’t run without you. Even better have lots of employees who will be out of work until you return. Or…bring a note from your employer that says you’re indispensable.

5) I don’t recommend this one, but if you’re really desperate to avoid jury duty. Have an accident and schedule all your physiotherapy and medical appointments in the coming weeks.

Now…if you your number is called and you have no excuse the judge is going to buy, scowl at the defendant, raise an eyebrow, or otherwise look like you’ve already condemned him. Chances are good one or the other lawyer will contest you. 

Of course…if you have the time and can afford the parking or transportation costs and can handle sitting all day for days at a time…you’d probably find the experience fascinating.

At least that’s what the judge assured us.

Your Turn: If you had to serve on a jury, what kind of charges would you like to rule on? What kind of trial would you absolutely never want to serve on?