Anybody in this country can be selected for jury duty. This can be for a regular jewellery or for a grand jury. Men and women across the country, in each and every district, can find a letter through the door saying that they have been chosen. Last June, it was Adam M Smith’s turn to try it. Once he got to the jury selection stage, he was quite shocked at the number of reasons and excuses people came up with to be excused. Here, he looks at some of the excuses that are actually legitimate.
Legitimate Reasons to Avoid Jury Duty According to Adam M Smith
There are numerous valid reasons as to why somebody should not be on a jury. The main one is that somebody has a health condition. This could be anything from something that stops them from being of sound mind and judgement, to something that prevents them from being comfortable in a jury seat. For this excuse to be accepted, a doctor’s note has to be provided together with a letter requesting excuse from jury duty.
Another valid reason is an inability to physically appear. For instance someone may be in Military service or abroad for studies. When someone is selected for jury duty, this is based on the electoral roll, not on whether or not they are actually in the country. It is quite common therefore for someone who is deployed or otherwise abroad to be called for duty. To be excused, proof has to be provided as well as a letter.
Another valid excuse is having to be a caregiver for someone else. Anyone who looks after an elderly or disabled person can be granted relief. However, this is not necessarily a given. Rather, it is decided based on the individual case. Again, proof is required.
Then, there are those who are financially unable to attend the jury or who would lose too much wages. Typically, the financial compensation received for sitting on a jury is very small, and it is quite normal for people to be unable to afford to take such a cut in wages. For this reason to be accepted, a prospective jury member has to prove that they will end up in financial hardship should they be required to sit on the jury.
There are also a number of people who are automatically in eligible to sit on a jury. Does include police officers, judges, and magistrates. Others may be excused, which includes teachers and people over the age of 65. Anyone who has been convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of five years or more or who has a felony conviction against their name is also in eligible to sit on a jury.
Ultimately, it is the court who will decide whether or not somebody can be excused from jury duty. If you have a valid reason not to attend, you must provide evidence of this as well as a supporting letter, and it is likely that the court will agree to dismiss you from this jury duty. That does not mean however, that you won’t be called up again.