Who doesn't love jury duty? It's the ultimate American rite of passage -- right up there with voting, renewing your driver's license, and tailgating at the Super Bowl. But for a lot of people, it may seem like a contract signed in blood with Uncle Sam. For this bunch, we're here to break that contract.
Before we begin, here's what you need to know. You'll be summoned for at least two days from 9am to 5pm. You'll start with an invigorating stay in the main holding room. Like American Idol contestants, you and your compatriots will be randomly selected to cases. Just because you're dismissed from one case doesn't mean you're free. By the end of the second day, you'll cross your fingers that you're not picked for a new case. But in the event that you are, we have you covered. Here are the 9 most legit excuses to get you out of jury duty. Case closed.
1. Just say, "uhhhh…"
Being indecisive isn't always a bad thing. You'll be less likely to pass your interview if you're unsure about your ability to make a fair and just decision. Tell the interviewer that you'd have to know more details about the case to see if it conflicts with your personal beliefs.
2. Use your connections
Find a connection to a member of law enforcement. Don't have one? Think again. It doesn't matter how distant the connection is. For example: "My sister's brother's ex-boyfriend's late uncle was a cop, and I don't think I can evaluate law enforcement the same way as a regular citizen can." The key here is to be specific and truthful. (They will check the names you give and where your "connections" serve.)
3. Get mugged
But not really. We don't mean lie, per se, but if you tell your interviewer that you were mugged, never reported it, and no one was arrested, nothing will come up in their system when they fact-check you. Just remember, don't lie.
4. Be the victim
If the mugging excuse doesn't work (after everyone else in the room is using it), try to think of a time when you were the victim of a related crime. For example, if you're dealing with a group violence case, say you were the target of group bullying as a kid growing up in Oklahoma, or Colorado, or something.
5. Have an emotional family issue
Again, not really. Just like any good novel, appeal to the emotions. For example, say, "My grandma just checked into the hospital and may not have very long to live, so if I'm sitting on this case, I might miss my last moments with her." (Try not to blubber up because this may blow your cover.)
6. Lose a friend
Again again, not really. Sympathetic judges and attorneys will most likely let you go. You can say, "I just found out my friend passed away. I believe I can be fair and just in the case, but I wanted to bring it up because I don't know when the funeral is." (But please, don't jinx anything.)
7. Know your stuff
If you have prior knowledge of a case, there's no way you can be a fair and just juror. Say you've read about the case or watched it on TV.
8. Be In the crime scene
Not in the actual crime scene, but near it -- say you live in or have a friend that lives in the area in which the crime was committed, so you're biased.
9. Join the bandwagon
In this case, being a copycat is a good thing. If you hear a judge verbally dismiss a juror candidate on the spot for an excuse, now's your time to strike. Raise your hand and repeat what the juror before you said. The key is to do this quickly and early on. Judges are well aware of these bandwagon techniques, so you'll want to be the first to go before they convene with council and shut it down.
And just in case you were wondering, here are some excuses you should NEVER try…
Nope. You may run your own business, but that doesn't mean you're exempt from your civic obligations.
"I can't abide by the governing laws that apply to this case."
Judge: "Language, no matter how foul, does not ever constitute a physical attack."
You: "I don't agree with that law and can't follow that instruction."
In this case, you will be excused, but only for that case. They'll say you failed to serve your jury duty time. This means you will have wasted the time you've already spent, and may be called back to start the process all over again. Save yourself the trouble.
"Uh, I was in the bathroom."
Being late or absent when they call out names does not mean you'll be forgotten. They'll skip over your name momentarily, but near the end of the selection process, you will be hunted down by a court officer. If not found, you'll be fined $1,000 and definitely called back.
When it comes to jury duty, the sides are divided. We've got friends that love jury duty and hope they get picked. Some see it as an important part of their civic duty, a way to support the justice system, and to get a sneak peek into the life of the law.
But this is for the rest of us. If you're praying you don't get picked, use this guide to help you along. When exercising (or avoiding) your civic duties, be smart. Tell the truth, people. With these jury duty do's and don't's in mind, you'll always come out on the winning side.