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Advice about Jury Duty

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I Missed Jury Duty, Now What?

Sept 2009

I received a summons for jury duty, which I promptly misplaced and forgot about. I just came across it, and I was supposed to call in last week to find out if I needed to report. Now what should I do? Should I call to find out if I'm in trouble, or should I not report myself and wait to see if there is any fallout? The summons was from the Superior Court of Alameda County in Hayward. - Disorganized and Worried


I did the same thing about 20 years ago in Sonoma County, and still remember vividly the notice that a warrant was about to be issued for my arrest. Plus a fine. Yikes.

Why not save them the annoyance and expense of tracking you down and serving a warrant? Plus extending your own anxiety. It's really simple to just let them know what happened; they'll put you on the list to appear again and once you actually do your time, all will likely be forgiven.

The bummer with my own case was that I was on a really interesting criminal trial and the suspect was guilty as sin, but the judge had to declare a mistrial because two of the jurors were friends and discussed the case improperly ... and one of them was a LEGAL SECRETARY. doh! So it was sort of a waste of my unpaid time, but at least I did my civic duty. warrant ya glad ya asked?


Report yourself. I forgot about mine and reported myself. They checked and it turns out that my group wasn't called after all. Better to report yourself than have them come looking for you. MH
last time I was called for jury duty, a couple of people did not respond to the roll call, and the judge isssue a bench warrant for their arrest. A cop doesn't come out looking for you, but if you are stopped for something like a traffic violation or an expired registration or whatever, they can arrest you. Doesn't sound like fun to me. OTOH, I think if you call and explain what happened, they will fix it in the computer.
This response is totally not stand up or responsible, but here goes anyway: ignore it. Pretend you never got the letter and hope for the best. I did that once, it worked, but I'm sure i can never get away with that again. You'll get a letter if your trial wasn't canceled and you were a no show. If you get no letter, you got lucky and it was canceled, which apparently happens alot. Anyway, that's my unethical but ass saving advice. way anon
I regularly miss jury duty in Alameda County. I just got so sick and tried of changing my schedule around and then not getting on the jury. I have ignored about the last 5 summons and there has been no problem. So I advise you to not sweat it. Remember, there is no ''jury police''. tiffany
Call and see if you were one of the groups that was excused. If not they can reschedule you vs waiting for that bench warrant for your arrest. Not too late.
You should contact the court. A judge can have a bench warrant issued for someone who does not respond to a jury summons. If you are stopped by an officer for a traffic violation and there is a bench warrant for you, you will be arrested. This could happen and if I were you, I would call the jury adminstrator at the court, explain what happened and make sure that no bench warrant has issued. avoid trouble
I'm so glad this is anonymous becaue I know some of my own friends would think I'm awful BUT I've been a single parent, self-employed and I simply have never been able to go to jury duty ever. Their form used to allow for that kind of answer and you could just mail it in. Once or twice when I thought my schedule could allow it, I've called in on the automated system and was excused. Even that would have been hard to do so I was glad not to go. When it got more strict and I would have had to take off a day just to go in to tell a judge why I can't take off a day, I couldn't do that so I just ignored them. Nothing ever happened. (I really feel that humans aren't capable of administering justice, but I'd have to take a day off to tell a judge that.)

I think they're too strict because now my daughter is 18 and going to school on the east coast and SHE got a summons. There's an excuse for that - not living in the state - on their form and she had a college picture ID with the college name on it, she was going to mail me a copy. But I called and that wasn't good enough. She had to have a picture ID with out of state address on it, which she didn't have. So we ignored that one too. I don't know why they make it so hard. Anon


Dear d and w, just call. what will happen is that they'll look up your number and see if you were one of the jurors called. Many people sit around and then after a while are let go. This exact thing happened to me, and I was told ''oh, honey, you're in luck. your number wasn't called.'' It can happen to anyone, and if they do want you to come back, I think they'll just give you another date. It's also good for them to know you are at the address they have on file, because they get their names from voter reg. and DMV records. call, and then relax! -been there
Don't worry! I once totally forgot about a jury summons and realized it a few days later. At the advice of my lawyer husband, I called the clerk's office, explained my mistake, and apologized. The clerk seemed genuinely shocked that I had bothered to call and very kindly looked up the information for the day and found out that all jurors in my group had been excused. I'm sure if that had not been the case she would have helped me make alternative arrangements. Good luck! Forgiven
I missed jury duty about six months ago - I just called the number on the summons and told them I had been ill and needed to reschedule. They gave me a date for a month later, no hassles. brandy
Hi! Same thing happened to me a few months back. I was a worried wreck thinking about what the consequences would be for me since I never called in. Well I found the notice/and remembered about a month later. I sucked it up and called and was PLEASANTLY surprised about how nice they were about the whole thing. I told them my excuse which was that I wanted to postpone to another date and they granted it and will be sending me out a new notice later on in the year. I say just call and fess up. I was happily surprised. missed jury duty too
I did something similar once, but in San Francisco. I don't know if the two counties treat this the same, but in my case I went to the courthouse and explained what happened. They didn't seem at all surprised, and immediately assigned me to another jury pool. There was no penalty of any sort. forgetful citizen
Do not worry, absolutely nothing will happen. Sadly, lots of people ignore jury notices, and there is no enforcement mechanism. I have always responded when called, but like you I forgot one time, and I never heard anything about it. I'm sure we will get called again and will be able to make up for our lapses.

Ready to stop ignoring jury summons - penalty?

Sept 2007

There's been a lot of useful advice regarding Jury Duty in previous posts, so I'm hoping someone could answer my specific question. My ''technique'' for avoiding jury duty was to simply throw the summons into the paper shredder. Yes, I know this is wrong... and I'm ready to do the right thing next time - but by responding to the next one - will that implicate me for ignoring the others? ''Ah! We see she DID receive this one, sent to the same address as all the others... we must punish her!'' Does one get fined, reprimanded, assigned to the worst possible court case, marked for life in any way?? Thanks! Ready to Do it Right


The worst that will happen is a judge will issue a warrant for your arrest, you'll be stopped for a traffic violation, and the police officer will arrest and put you in jail. If it's a Friday night or a holiday weekend you might spend 3-4 days in jail. As my fried the attoreny says, "At all times you need to be carrying a clean pair of underwear. No telling when this might happen." The warrant never goes away. So it could be 2 days, or 15 years. Since you've ignored the notices their might be a warrant out for your arrest right now. I've been on phone stand-by and gotten out of it every single time. (Much easier solution in my opinion.) Anon
Forgetaboutit. I've ignored some and attended some. One had nothing to do with the other. If you want to avoid the jury duty, ask for a postponement. You get to name the date(s) you will be available within the next six months. Choose either the days just before/after Labor Day or Christmas or Memorial Day. Lawyers and Judges usually take vacation and court activity is pretty low, as I see it. I've never had to attend when I've requested that kind of postponement. sim
The previous times you shredded the summons, you were probably in the group that was not called in at 5pm the previous day. I've gotten a jury summons just about every year since I registered to vote in Alameda County seven years ago, and I have never needed to go in when I called at 5pm the day before (knock on wood!!). The system that you call into is an automated message and I don't even think they keep track of who calls it. But I if I remember correctly from this past time, you do have to put in your summons #, so maybe they do. I don't know . . . but one year I forgot to call in until several weeks later and was panic-stricken about it. I called in and got to a person who looked up my summons # and said my group had not been called so I didn't need to worry about it. If I were you, I'd just call in at 5pm the day before and then you don't have to worry about ever being held in contempt of court if you by any chance do get in a group that is called in and you're not there. --Summoned, yet not called in
Yes, you ARE marked for life! No, just kidding. Keep this in mind - they don't send summons via certified mail, so there's no proof you even received them. Yours theoretically could have been lost in transit every single time. They'll just be glad you showed up

My non-English speaking parents keep getting called for jury duty

Sept 2006

Does anyone know how to permanently get out of jury duty? About 10 years ago, I convinced my parents to apply for US citizenship. Little did I know that they would be called *every* year for jury duty! They own a small shop (my parents operate it together, no employees) and for one of them to go to the courthouse, they have to close the shop. This leads to income loss and many upset customers. Moreover, although they speak English well enough to get by in everyday life, they don't understand enough court-speak to serve as a juror. My parents have me calling the hotline to see if their group has been called so it's a huge hassle for me too. A few times, they have been called to the courthouse (and I took time off work last minute to cover for them at their shop) and they get dismissed because of their lack of English skills. There's a check box for financial hardship and insufficent English but the courts have ignored the former and make people come in for the latter taking care of my parents


It is frustrating to read this. Unfortunately, so many people try to get out of jury duty and it is actually both interesting and important. Perhaps your parents should have considered it when they applied for citizenship. The likelihood that you get called to come in or that you will actually serve is pretty small. It does come around one/year for all people in Alameda County. Your parents may want to consider hiring back-up personnel for their business when called. It is important that there are a diversity of views represented for a jury to work at all. anonymous
I agree with the person who responded, dismayed about the original post. It is distressing and like throwing blood in front of anti-immigration sharks to become a naturalized citizen and then complain about jury duty because of language difficulties! But the responder was not correct in saying that everyone in Alameda county gets called for jury duty once a year. As many of us know, for some strange reason, some people get called a lot and some people never do. Never gets jury duty!

Jury Duty for Nanny

March 2006

My full-time live-in nanny has been called for jury duty. I would love to know how other families with one child-care provider have handled this situation. Does she still get paid? How does one deal with the unpredictable tenure of jury service? anonymous


If your nanny does not want to do jury duty she can probably get out of it by saying she is paid on an hourly basis and is not paid for jury duty and therefore it would be a financial hardship. You may have to write a letter to back that up. Good Luck! anon
I am a nanny who has had jury duty twice since taking my present position. Your nanny can ask for a postponement - she needs to let them know that she is the primary career for your child(ren). They may refuse, but mostly they don't. What is your ''plan B'' incase your nanny is ill or injured? Are you then taking time off work? You might have to do the same thing for jury duty. You might also think if drop in day care if your child is old enough and could handle the abrupt change in routine. Always have a ''plan B''

Jury Duty for Stay-at-home mom?

Feb 2006

I just received another jury duty notice (in the past I've deferred, then deferred again and am about out of deferments). The problem is that I'm a stay at home mom with no babysitting contacts or arrangements at all. We never even go out on weekends. My husband is working in a start-up, no salary job (very long hours as one of the couple employees there and he will not agree to stay home, nor do I think he should, so I'm not even going to ask). I don't have family nearby and no-one can watch my child for the whole day. What have people done in the past? Want to help, but feel burdened by the request


I too am a SAH mom who keeps getting jury notices. You don't have to defer -- you don't have to serve. You are responsible for taking care of a dependent, and as long as you are, you have a legitimate excuse. (Read the back of the notice). The easiest way to deal with these is thru the website they mention on the notice; you just go to the site, type in your number and a little more info, request to be excused, and provide the name (s) and age(s) of the child(ren) you are caring for. I've had to do this about 6 times now, and it's a small hassle, but has never been a problem. SR
Write a letter, as explained in the summons, explaining your situation (2 dependent children with no babysitting options - be specific about this) and they should let you out of your obligation. Liz O.
Just keep returning the papers, saying you're the sole caregiver of a baby. I've had several summons in the past several years, (I'm a stay-home mom of 3), and like you, I have no regular babysitter, no relatives nearby, and no daycare. I've sent the papers back, listing whatever info they ask for (names & ages of kids...), and have never heard back--meaning I'm excused. Heidi
I don't think you are out of deferments. I would check the box for ''undue financial hardship'' and write a brief explanation of your childcare and financial situation (i.e. no ability to procure and pay for long term full time childcare should you be selected.) Chris
i am a stay at home mom w/out any regular childcare, and when i was called for jury duty in january, i went and took my son with me. when i got there w/two year old in tow, i was directed to the jury services office where i was able to be excused by writing that i'm a SAHM and the sole caregiver (during the days) for my child. the women working there were very nice. you might try calling jury services beforehand and see if you can do this without having to go in person. i'm in el cerrito so this is contra costa county courts (in martinez). not sure if this is a policy for every county. another sahm
I'm not sure if it's guaranteed, but so far I have been able to get out of jury duty twice by pointing out that I am the sole daytime caregiver for my young children. The one time I had to actually go to the courthouse and sit through the selection process, there were enough volunteers before they got to me that the rest of us could go home, but the judge was going through and asking each person if serving would create a hardship, and those who said they had to take care of their kids were excused. So I think they will try to accomodate you, especially if you ask politely and don't act entitled to anything. JP
On the Alameda County jury duty notice there are a list of boxes with standard reasons you are excused. One is ''you are the full time care provider for another person'' or something to that effect. I check that box every year, and send it in. No sweat. I don't send a letter, much less any documentation. Carolyn Street CarolynStreet@netzero.net
I had the same situation when my kids were young. Each time I got a jury duty notice, I just responded requesting to be excused--not deferred--for the very reasons you mentioned in your post. The first time I did it I called to see if they had accepted it and was told that if I didn't hear back, I was excused. So, I did that each year for a few years and it always worked. anon
This happened to me last month. I called the phone number on the back, and they said, no problem. They even told me how to fill out the form and what to write to be excused, something like ''I am responsible for taking care of my children and do not have alternate care for them. They are both under the age of 18 and depend on me. Their names are xxx and xxx.'' You just need to send it in 21 days before the jury duty date. Good luck! fellow mom
I'm not sure why you deferred when being the primary care-taker of young children is an acceptable reason to be excused from service? My husband is the stay-at-home parent, and he just sends back the card asking to be excused. They always excuse him anon
Courts do NOT have child care for potential jurors (although they may provide it for others with court business) and do not allow children to be in the jury assembly room. Some counties state that child care is NOT an excuse from jury duty. Other counties suggest that you return your summons with a request to be excused because of your child-care duties. I suggest completing the summons questionarie and attaching a letter stating your situation. Be honest and explain the details as you have in your posting. You will most probably be excused. best wishes, an officer of the court
You didn't mention the age of your little one, but if you're still nursing there's no way you can be away from your baby. I was in my last month of pregnancy with my last baby when I got a ticket and had to arrange for traffic school, but didn't actually go until he was weaned - the court was very generous about when I came in to satisfy the ticket. Being without childcare should be reason enough for being excused from jury duty. They can't just demand that you leave your child with just anyone because they need a juror. There are plenty of people in the pot to pick from. Don't waste your time feeling guilty over your ''civic duty'' - too many other things that demand your time and attention. Some ''sort-of'' related advice: get out of the house; take a picnic basket to Lake Temescal; cultivate some relationships outside your immediate threesome - the world will feel bigger, the air will feel fresher. brenda
I know this is un-ethical but I have been in the same situation in the past and I simply threw the notice away - I figured they could never prove I received it. Then my husband read an article that said no one has ever been prosecuted for not responding to jury duty notices, even though it is against the law. I would actually love to be able to serve jury duty but I can't afford to miss what could potentially be weeks of work. After throwing away that notice I have never received another! Guilty
A few people suggested just ignoring the jury summons, since the court doesn't know if you moved and/or never received it in the first place. I would not recommend this. I had an unpleasant experience with this with Alameda County. I did not ignore the notice - I had moved and never received it. So imagine my shock when I received a warrant in the mail due to my 'failure to appear in court'!! I took off work to take care of it. The clerk told me that jury notices were not forwarded when you put in a change of address. I had to show some papers with my old and new addreses and they cleared the warrant (and put my name back in the pool for jury duty!). This was several years ago so maybe they do forward the notices now. At any rate, I would not take the chance if I were you. Respond as several others suggested, that you are a full-time caregiver - it sounds like that is one of the allowable excuses. Anon

How can I stop getting called every year!

July 2003

Can anyone tell me how to ''unregister'' to vote? I seem to get called for jury duty every year, and am a full-time mom to a 1 1/2- year-old and a three-year-old. We have no childcare, no local relatives, and are not sending our kids to preschool. I have been excused in the past because I was breastfeeding, but now I just have to plead my case each time, and I'd rather just give up the right to vote for the next 4 years. Any advice on how to do so?
Mommy Stressed About Jury Duty


The courts use several sources, not just voter roles, to select jurors. So this method would not only deprive us of your important point of view in upcoming elections (I hope by now we see how important it is to vote!), but it might not get you out of jury duty. I believe that small children and no childcare is a standard check off on the jury duty form. This may vary by court, and I know the way it is written is a bit confusing, but you should be able to apply for excusal easily, without having to go to the court at all. You do not want a ''deferment,'' you want to be excused. Look for the area where you can ask for that on the first notice you get. Please vote--for your kid's sake.
Served Recently
You didn't mention what county you're in but Alameda County excuses persons caring for a preschool child full-time. You certainly more than qualify. I don't think being registered to vote makes any difference - I've been called every year for the past 5 and I'm not a registered voter. - anon
As the full-time provider of care to a child, you have an automatic excuse. It is called ''Person Care'' on the checklist, or you can just write them a short letter explaining that you provide care to children, and you will be automatically excused. Please don't ''unregister'' to vote! Especially these days, it is very important to vote.
I'm in the same position and I just write in every year. It's odd that my husband has never been called for jury duty, yet I get a notice every year. Go figure. Compared to the relative annoyance of writing to the County of Alameda once/year, abandoning your right to vote seems pretty extreme! Don't stress about it -- you have a great excuse and you'll be excused even if you have to show up for a few hours.
Laurel
I believe I am called for jury duty from the DMV records because of the name I have on my license vs. the name I have used for registering to vote. So that plan of yours likely won't work. eve
I believe that the court system gets their list of potential jurors from the DMV, not voter registration, so unless you want to give up your driver's license, you will be stuck with jury duty. I have been called by two different courts in the past several months, and I believe that the forms I filled out for both had a place where they would consider an excuse if someone relies on you as their primary care giver. Susan
I have not done jury duty in over 9 years, since I started having kids. I just tell them I don't have a sitter, and they don't bother me. If they really try to make me show up, I plan to bring my kids along, and I am sure that will work. I will gladly do my duty when my kids are old enough. I think you can continue to vote and not have to go while you have little kids. Trudi
In addition to explaining the specifics of your situation, it would not hurt to call the county and make sure that your name is only listed one time in their records. I was being called every three to four months. It turned out that my name was listed four times. I am noot sure why, but one listing included my middle name, one my middle initial, one without. The list does not consider these names duplicates, even though they are at the same address. At least this would minimize the number of times that you are called! Deirdre
My husband was called for jury duty before he became a US citizen (and therefore not registered to vote), so we assumed they ''found'' him via his driver's license info. Not registering to vote is NOT a good idea, and not the solution anyway. One can avoid jury duty two ways - the ''bad'' way is to simply ignore the request when you receive it. I've never known any instance of people being tracked down - where are the resources for that?

The ''good'' way is to do your duty - if you have to go in, tell the truth and take your chances. Alas, the way the system works, it encourages ''bad'' behavior. Voter to make difference


I'm not sure how to unregister to vote, but as far as being excused, I just stated that I do not have childcare for my child from 8-5 (which is true, and does not depend on breastfeeding). So far this has worked, but I live in San Francisco, so maybe other counties are different. Ellen
Unfortunately, ''unregistering'' to vote won't solve your problem of being called for jury duty. I am a British citizen and get called on fairly frequently, either because I own property in Oakland or because of DMV records. In order to get out of jury duty, I have to send the court a copy of my green card to prove that I am not a U.S. citizen, and I am then excused. Charlotte
I am horrified that someone would decide not to vote for the next 4 years. Please stay registered, and when you've run out of legitimate excuses for jury duty, call in sick the day you're supposed to show up. anon.
I can sympathize with your desire to avoid being called for jury duty. However, ''de-registering'' to vote, even if it is possible, will not prevent your being called. The State of California uses the DMV database in addition to the voter registration list (see the item ''Source list'' at the URL http//www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury/glossary.htm#source%20list); so unless you want to give up your driver's license or ID card and then move from your current residence, you cannot remove yourself from the pool of potential jurors. I was able to postpone jury duty as a new mother, but cannot offer any helpful suggestions because I was in New York City where the rules are less strict. Good luck! Anne
My eighteen year old, high school senior was called for jury duty, despite not yet having registered to vote. It seems as if you do not need to give up your vote, they'll get you no matter what! Good luck. Paula
It's my understanding that the courts get names for jury duty from the DMV as well as the voter regstration rolls, so ''unregistering'' to vote won't help you if you own a car or have a driver's license or California state ID card.

If your kids aren't in school, you can check the excuse box that says you are responsible for the care of another M-F from 9 to 5. This gives you an automatic excuse. I live in Alameda County; I get summoned every six months; I check the box, write that I care for my kids full-time (including the ages of my kids), send it in and that's that. I've never heard any thing from the court except another summons six months later.

You don't mention what county you live in, but I think it's a state law that you are excused from juty duty under those circumstances.

It's irritating, but my advice would be to fill out the form and stop stressing, That's what I do. Good luck! Karen


Please don't give up voting! You can still claim exemption from jury duty if you are the sole care giver to someone young or old. There is a spot on the jury duty form that you need to send back where you state the names and ages of who you are caring for. I filled this out just a few months ago and my daughter is 4 years old, it was not a problem. Voter registration is not the only list they can get your name from for jury duty. Drivers license is another one. Please go on voting! an avid voter
I would like to add to the discussion that if you CAN serve on Jury Duty, that should also be considered a part of responsible parenting. If everyone was ''too busy'' to serve, what kind of a justice system would we have? And what kind of a society would your kids be growing up in? Further, what sort of lesson are you teaching your kids about civic responsibility? Admittedly the Justice system is pretty messed up as is, but one thing that is good about it, is the participation of you and me. Just to be clear I do think childcare is a perfectly reasonable reason not to serve, and I believe it is widely accepted as an excuse.
Served Recently
I'm also an at-home mom (with 3 kids 4 and under) and can empathize with your dilemna! With that said, I think there are two issues here 1) is the jury duty system interested in your plight before you are selected? (probably not) 2) what kind of back-up care do you have for situations like this and emergencies?

I feel very strongly about our personal responsibility to vote-- as a politics major, former public servant and a military reservist I believe we are throwing away our freedoms when we don't educate ourselves and take the time to cast our ballot. Not many countries share the same freedoms we do and to preserve our democratic values we have to vote. With that said, I don't know if it's possible to ''de-register.'' So you may continue to come up annually for jury duty as long as you drive a car (one way our info is captured for voting purposes). I've also used the nursing justification to get out of jury duty. I don't have full or part-time help. I usually rely on close friends, my babysitting coop, my husband taking a day off work (or my mother-in-law if I'm really desperate). If you are called up, in most cases you never have to show or sit on a jury (this has been my husband's experience three times in seven years). If you do show, I would immediately tell them this is an economic hardship because of the childcare issue (and your husband missing work--I'm assuming this is what you would say). In that case, I'm sure they would consider removing you from that jury or assigning you to a shorter trial. Your kids won't be this young for long! I hope this helps. Mom of 3


Unregistering to vote won't solve your jury duty problem -- most counties get names from multiple sources, including DMV records, etc. I realize that jury duty is a chore, but it's also a responsibility of citizenship. Imagine that you were accused of a crime -- or the victim of a crime. Wouldn't you want the best and brightest deciding the case? Okay, off my soapbox. Just wanted to remind everyone that jury service wasn't invented to be annoying, it's central to our democracy. And if it's really a hardship in terms of income or childcare, it's quite easy to be excused (usually all you have to do is write a letter.) nelly
You cannot ''unregister'' from voting, and in any case, it wouldn't do any good because they get lists of jurors from a variety of sources, not just voter rolls. What you can do, though, is move to Alameda county where they have the ''one day/one jury'' rule, that means that at most you'll have to spend one day a year on jury duty (unless you are chosen to be in a jury, but you can make sure you are not). Half the time, you don't even have to go that day either. I've also wonder what would happen if you just showed up in court with your kids - I mean, if you don't have anywhere to leave them, you don't have anywhere to leave them, right? anon
An alternatve to trying to be excused from jury duty In Alameda County, your notice will tell you to call the night before to find out if you are needed. If you are not (and this is often the case), you have fulfilled your jury duty for at least a year. If you are called and can't go, you have a week to send in a note to explain why, and you could then inform the court that you were unable to find childcare/did not want to leave a nursing baby, whatever. That would give you, at the least, a postponement and when called again you can inform the court that you are still not available for the same reason. This way, you don't have to lie but you still don't have to serve. anon

Jury Duty for stay-at-home mom

May 2002

I have recently been summoned for jury duty for the 5th time in 5.5 years of Alameda County residency and have two questions: 1. I submitted a request for excusal because I am full-time mother to a 24-month old and do not have childcare arrangements in place. In others' experience, does this qualify for excusal? Is there a way to define it in compelling terms so it does qualify? 2. Is anyone aware of quality childcare that can be procured for 1-week or so only and then, on an on-call basis? Or resources for finding such?

I can't imagine finding ''on-call'' childcare on the fly when I have none in place, so to fulfill my civic responsibility would entail $700 a week out of pocket to current p/t sitter (who may not be available) or that my spouse take paid vacation. I'm happy with neither option, especially since I'm called every year. Thanks for any thoughts.


There is a standard excusal which is when you are responsible for caring for another person, including a child. You shouldn't have any problem getting out of jury duty isabel
When I was near the end of my pregnancy I got a notice for jury duty and my OB wrote me a note which excused me. During that time we also talked about other circumstances which would excuse one from jury duty. He suggested if I ever received a notice again and was caring for my young child that I show up the first day with kid in tow and that would get me taken out of the jury pool almost instantly. So being the primary caregiver to a young child does excuse you. Good luck. CJC
in the event that you are a breastfeeding mother, you are exempt from jury duty in the state of california. simply write in ''breastfeeding'' under ''other exemptions''. if you are breastfeeding, i hope this is helpful information for you.
I was recently summoned for jury duty, and had the same questions, because the notice makes it sound like it is not ok to be excused because of childcare concerns. After much debating, I wrote a letter asking to be excused because I am the sole daytime caregiver for small children with no practical possibility of childcare. I never heard from them again, which I am assuming means that I am excused. janet
I have had to be excused from jury duty twice because I take care of my two kids every morning and late afternoon. I wrote a letter explaining this, and it was no problem being excused -- if I remember right there is a box on the form to check that says ''I am responsible for the care of another between the hours of 8 and 5,'' or something like that. I did want to figure out a way to juggle extra child care and do jury duty, but without an on-call babysitter already available for those times it seemed like too much to pull it all together (especially considering you might agree to do jury duty and then not be called at all). Catha
I live in San Francisco and know that here, if you are breastfeeding full-time, you can defer your duty for nine months. However, when you defer, you actually schedule your appearance. My date is in August and if I am actually chosen to go into the courthouse, I'll simply take my son with me and explain that I could not arrange childcare. I'll try to think of it as an adventure for my son and it will be interesting to see what they do with us. Good Luck
I've been called to jury duty in Alameda and Contra Costa counties since my daughter was born 2 years ago. In both counties I wrote in that I took care of my child (in my case, part-time) and had no full-time childcare. Alameda County granted my requests for a leave with no problem; Contra Costa actually called me ''to confirm.'' When I explained that I had no full-time childcare, they agreed to delay my jury duty. You should not have a problem. Christine
When my son was about 7 months old I was called for jury duty. I also had a 4.5 year old. I wrote a letter that started with ''I am requesting to be excused from Jury Duty since I am the primary care giver for two children under five years old. I have limited childcare for the two of them, thus serving on a jury would be impossible at this time.'' I also mentioned the nursing schedule of my little one and the part-time preschool of the older one. I was given an extension (although I have yet to be called and that was 2.5 years ago). I think you should write the letter and explain the financial and logistical hardship of finding care for your child. I figure there will be some day when I can do it. Good luck. Jen
I've been called for jury duty pretty much every year since my now 3-year was born. In fact, no joke, I was called to appear on my due date! And did in fact give birth that day, thankfully not in the courtroom in downtown Oakland! The next year I clearly had a good excuse, and that was that I had a small child with whom I was breastfeeding. When he was two it got a little more difficult because they note on the forms that breastfeeding is not considered an excuse after one year of age. That year my response stated that the World Health Organization's statistics on the average age of weaning world wide was 4 years of age, and that I felt that they should update their archaic system a bit by at least changing it to two years of age. This year and last when he was two and three I also had to include the fact that I had no close relatives in the area, nor had my son been separated from me for more than 6 to 8 hours, and only on a few occasions. For this reason it would not be possible for me to leave him in a daycare situation, nor could I afford to pay for daycare with the miniscule wages that they offer. What is it, about $11.00 a day or something like that? They've got to be kidding!

Footnote: Since my father was a New York police officer for 20 years and quite frequently a police officer is involved with the case, invariably both lawyers think that I am biased either one way or the other. So it is usually a waste of time for me to sit there for a couple of days until my name is called, only to be excused after the first question. I have to admit though, that watching how the lawyers and judge go about the process of elimination is very interesting, and I do hope to be able to observe that process again.


My experience has been that you can be excused if you have a dependent. I believe it is one of the choices that is listed in the section that gives you accepted reasons to be excused. Read it carefully, fill out the form as required and send it in ASAP (if you miss the deadline you can only postpone jury duty). Follow up with a phone call to an actual person (there are phone numbers on the mailing you got, don't just leave a message with voicemail, persist until you speak to someone!). I work fulltime and have childcare, but it doesn't cover the hours of jury duty, and I was still able to be excused. Good luck!
In my experience, they have a box to check on the jury summons card if you are the sole caregiver of a dependent (child or otherwise). They ask you give a detailed explanation in a note below the check box, which worked twice for me. I told them I was a nursing mother and let them imagine both of us showing up for duty. Good luck.
I am a stay at home mom of an 18 month and I also get called to jury duty frequently (in Alameda County). Since having my daughter, I have been called twice. On both occasions I have written a note stating that I care of a young child full time and that having to pay a sitter would be an economic hardship. There was no response from the court after I wrote these notes so I assumed that the excuse was valid.
Financial hardship is a valid excuse for getting out of jury duty.
Regarding jury duty, my wife has been called every year for the past 8 years. We have two kids, she is a stay-at-home mom (we homeschool too, which may not be relevant to your case). An 'excuse' is better than a 'postponement' because they won't bother you again for a year. She writes a letter and attaches it to the notice, stating that she takes care of two young children during weekdays, so she needs to be excused from jury duty. So far she has not been bothered- if you don't hear back from them after sending in your response, everything is ok. Nils
As I understand it, if you are the sole caregiver for someone, you are excused from jury duty. I have been called twice since having my first child 2 years ago. Both times I checked the box stating so, and wrote an explanation in the space provided that I am a full-time, stay-at-home mom of a baby (now 2 babies) and that seemed to be all the information they needed. Heidi
I have been summoned twice in the past few years and have gotten excused both times by writing a letter. The exact language I use is "I have a six-month old baby and a three-year old daughter for whom I care on those two days per week when I am not working (I have a part-time job). Serving on a jury would prevent me from fulfilling my personal obligation to provide care for my daughters. Furthermore, it would require me to locate care for them on days when they are not already in day care, at substantial cost. This would create an extreme financial burden on me." You are welcome to use this language, as it has worked for me.

By the way, you just send in the letter. I have never received a response, so I assume this is enough, as I also have never been cited for jury negligence or whatever it would be. - Jody


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