Is it Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty?
August 14, 2022 | J.L. King
Most adults in Georgia are eligible for jury duty and must serve when called. However, there are some exceptions. If you meet specific exemptions, you can get out of jury duty if you desire.
How Are Jurors Selected for Tifton Personal Injury Trials?
Jurors are chosen to serve on Georgia state courts from a master jury list. The court creates a list of all potential jurors living within the court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, if a car accident case is being heard in Tift County, the jurors would need to be residents of Tift County to serve on the jury.
To be eligible to serve as a juror in Georgia, you must:
- Be a United States citizen
- Be 18 years old or older
- Be a resident in the county for the court that sent you a jury summons
- Have not served on a jury in the past year
- Be proficient in the English language so you can understand and discuss the case
- Not be under a conservatorship
- Not be currently serving on another trial jury or a grand jury
- Have had your civil rights restored after a felony conviction or a conviction of malfeasance while holding public office
If you are selected as a juror, you receive a jury summons from the court. The summons instructs you to appear to serve on a jury panel. It does not mean you will be selected for a jury, but it does mean you are required to show up for jury duty.
Are There Exemptions to Jury Duty in Georgia?
Some people can choose not to serve on a jury. Exemptions from jury duty are listed in the Code of Georgia Annotated §15-12-1.1. Individuals who may be excused from serving jury duty include:
- Full-time students
- Primary caregivers of a child who is six years old or younger
- Primary teachers in a home study program
- Workers who are necessary to the public safety or health
- The primary caregiver of someone over the age of six years old who cannot be left alone because they have physical or cognitive limitations that make them unable to care for themselves
- A person who is 70 years old or older
- A service member on ordered military duty or their spouse
You may be excused from jury duty if you are physically or mentally disabled. However, the judge might require a statement from your physician confirming the disability.
In addition to excuses from jury duty, you might be able to get out of jury duty by asking for a deferment. The judge might postpone your jury duty to another court session if you have a valid reason.
What Happens if I Do Not Attend Jury Duty?
Unless the court exempts, excuses, or defers your jury duty, you must appear in person on the date and at the time listed on the jury summons. If you have a valid reason for not serving on jury duty, follow the instructions in the jury summons.
The court could issue contempt charges if you do not show up for jury duty or you fail to respond to a jury summons. A judge may issue a court order requiring you to appear before the court. After hearing your reasons for ignoring a jury summons, the judge could sentence you to jail time, fines, or both for contempt of court.
What Happens When I am Summoned To Jury Duty?
Being summoned to jury duty does not mean you will serve on a jury. First, the clerk of court randomly draws jurors from the jury pool. Therefore, your name might not be “picked” for a jury.
Even if you are chosen for a jury, one of the attorneys might “strike” you from the jury. “Striking” a juror for no cause means the party does not want the person to serve on the jury. The party does not need to disclose why they do not want the person to serve on the jury.
For example, a case involving a drunk driving accident is on the document. Suppose you are a member of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and your name is chosen. The defense may strike you because it believes you might not be impartial.
There are a limited number of strikes for no cause. However, the parties have unlimited strikes for cause. A strike for cause means there is a valid reason the juror should not serve on the jury.
Suppose a drunk driver killed your spouse. The defense may request the court strike you for cause because it argues it is impossible for you to be an impartial juror in a DUI accident case.
Contact the Clerk of Court if You Have Questions
It is best to contact the clerk of court as early as possible if you want to get out of jury duty. There must be a certain number of people in a jury pool. Therefore, excuses might be granted on a “first come, first serve” basis.
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