Advice about Jury Duty
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Advice about Jury Duty
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
Better to report yourself than have them come looking for you.
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
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.
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''.
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.
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
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.
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
call, and then relax!
Don't worry! I once totally forgot about a jury summons and realized it a
later. At the advice of my lawyer husband, I called the clerk's office,
mistake, and apologized. The clerk seemed genuinely shocked that I had
call and very kindly looked up the information for the day and found out that
in my group had been excused. I'm sure if that had not been the case she
helped me make alternative arrangements.
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.
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.
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.
There's been a lot of useful advice regarding Jury Duty in
previous posts, so I'm hoping someone could answer my specific
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??
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.)
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.
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
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
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!
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?
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.
I am a nanny who has had jury duty twice since taking my present
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''
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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
It's irritating, but my advice would be to fill out the form and
stop stressing, That's what I do.
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
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.
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
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.)
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
this page was last updated: Oct 17, 2011
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network