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Jury duty question

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Myname posted 6/8/2014 08:43 AM

I haven't gotten called for it but it's been a concern. There is no way I could go. I would freak out. Going to court would be a MAJOR trigger for me. It's part of the reason I haven't sued some of my clients for not paying and part of the reason I'm not D.

About a year and a half ago I was ready to go through with the D process and just the thought of having to go to court put me in a full on panic attack complete with breaking things in my house and some very bad cutting.

Just to say I now know that in my situation it would be very unlikely that I would have to go to court to get D.

So if I were to get called is there any legal way to get out of it?

Lonelygirl10 posted 6/8/2014 09:12 AM

In my state, you usually have to show up for court in order to give the judge your excuse for wanting out of it. There's a possibility you could get a doctor's note, and call someone in advance for it. I imagine that if you can find a doctor who will say that you will have a panic attack by going to court, then they will probably not force you to go.

Usually when you get excused though, they put you back on the list to be called the next time.

Red Sox Nation posted 6/8/2014 09:13 AM

There isn't, unless you have a doctor who will write a letter indicating there's a disability that prevents your service. Which sounds like the case here, if the anxiety a court appearance provokes results in you hurting yourself.

If you feel you're on the verge of another panic attack, please see a professional and discuss these feelings. Ask for this letter if the session doesn't help resolve these feelings.

As far as your county or city is concerned, jury duty is a duty and there's a real risk you will get in legal trouble for ignoring a call. But if you have a letter from a professional specifically indicating jury duty wouldn't be possible for you, they are happy to comply. For them, every call is just paperwork, and the letter wraps that up nicely.

TrustedHer posted 6/8/2014 09:53 AM

Is it the official "court" that's the problem, or the courthouse itself?

Usually, the mundane jury paperwork is handled by the clerk of the court, who runs normal business hours in the courthouse. If you get the letter described above, you could present it personally. That's not "court", it's business in the courthouse.

If that's a problem for you, then maybe you could handle it all over the phone, snail mail, or fax.

Also, if you get that letter, you could consult an attorney to see if you could sue your deadbeat clients without appearing in court yourself. Perhaps via depositions that happen in your lawyer's office. More expensive than pro se and small claims court, but an option.

Stillstings posted 6/8/2014 11:11 AM

The last time I got called for jury duty I was 1 week into a brand new job that I needed after being unemployed for months. In our state employers are not obligated to pay you while serving.

My boss wrote a note saying I'd suffer economic hardship and my absence would be detrimental to the department and it was true. I needed the money and nobody else could perform my job. I was excused.

Can you do something similar?

Chrysalis123 posted 6/8/2014 11:40 AM

I have been called to serve many times over the years, because I live in a small county.

All of the notices require a call the day before for the potential jurors to see if the trial is still on the docket. Most times all of the trials have been cancelled.

In my state a work conflict can be used for an excuse once. I did that last time, and it was done by mail.

I did serve on a 7 day trial once.

In the unlikely event you did get called so will 100's of other people that will be boiled down to 14 or less.

First thing was a survey. Lots of people excused from that alone. You would explain your issue and would 99% be excused on the spot.

However, all people were allowed to speak with the judge and lawyers privately to explain why they would not be a "good" aka impartial juror for that case. The lawyers want the best jurors possible and they excused lots of people for all kinds of reasons.

The people in the court were all very professional, nice, and considerate of all of us jurors, and the experience was very interesting....not scary at all.

Myname, please try to not not borrow trouble. This hasn't happened to you and in all likelihood won't, so try not to worry.

[This message edited by Chrysalis123 at 11:42 AM, June 8th (Sunday)]

Myname posted 6/8/2014 12:08 PM

I hadn't thought of the dr note.


I own a landscaping company and only have one truck for my company which would be needed for me to get to court. If I had to serve for a week I would lose my business. Since I'm the owner I couldn't write a note for myself.


It's desks especially large dark colored wooden ones that really trigger me bad. That's what I picture a courtroom to look like. I don't go to new places because of the social anxiety. If I go somewhere new I need to know as many details as possible and be in complete control of the situation.

Honestly, the whole thought of this makes me very anxious. I haven't even gotten a letter for jury duty and yet just talking about this makes my heart race and makes me feel nauseous.

I just hope I never have to deal with this.

heartbroken_kk posted 6/8/2014 12:35 PM

Myname, I have never ever ever ever heard of ANYONE getting into trouble for not showing up for jury duty. The clerk has WAY too much to do, to try to chase down no-shows. They use intimidating notices but I've never heard of any repercussions for not showing up.

I wouldn't worry about it. Seriously. Should it ever come to pass that you get a summons, you can easily be excused as a small business owner who cannot be away from work, and you can make your request by mail. You do not have to show up in court.

clralb posted 6/8/2014 13:55 PM

Do not worry about something that hasn't happened yet.

In my state, financial hardship is not taken into consideration.

I strongly suggest that if you are ever called for jury duty, get a note from your doctor explaining your anxiety and it would make it absolutely impossible to listen to evidence and make a decision.

I have a bit of social anxiety myself. If you were called up to the jury box and questioned by the attorneys and Court to see if they want you to be on the jury, you have to speak in front of a courtroom full of people. That would give me anxiety.

Get a doctor's note.

little turtle posted 6/8/2014 15:12 PM

Have you ever been inside of a courtroom? I've been inside 2 and neither had those big desks like you see on TV. I was disappointed.

But anyway, I've never been called to jury duty. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get out of it. Either with a doctor's note or proof of your business that can't run without you present.

purplejacket4 posted 6/8/2014 18:19 PM

Get a letter from your doctor. This won't assure you'd get out if it but the judge would probably let you go. Someone having a huge attack could cause a mistrial and they do NOT want that.

Knowing just a bit about you from your posts if I was your PCP I'd write one for you no problem.

Stillstings posted 6/8/2014 18:38 PM

Depending on where you live, being your own source of income on a contractor basis really could be enough to get you off.

The anxiety issue would be enough to be dismissed and rightfully so, it isn't in your best interest or that of the plaintiff to have someone in a jury be under such stress.

I believe we all have an obligation to provide our civic duties and it may sound selfish but if my own health or survival were threatened, I'd try to bow out respectfully. I reserve my judgment for those who feel jury duty is beneath them.

Jeaniegirl posted 6/8/2014 19:22 PM

Heartbroken, I don't know where you live but in a couple of states where I am licensed to practice law, when the names of potential jurors are called and there are 'no shows' ... the judge issues a summons on the spot for their arrest. Deputies DO go find them and they can face serious legal consequences for not showing up. On the other hand, jury duty is fairly easy to get out of. In the case of panic attacks, one could probably be excused through working with the court ahead of time, through communications ... and possibly be excused and not have to report.

tryingagain74 posted 6/8/2014 20:33 PM

I have had to turn down jury duty twice after the first time I served because I have been caring for minors. On the advice of my father (retired police officer), I sent them a letter indicating that I was the sole caregiver of these children and that I did not have the financial means to put them in some sort of daycare situation. I sent along copies of their birth certificates (not helpful to you, but I think that the doctor's note would be an excellent idea-- remember, they might call you again once your busy season is over, so I'm not sure that using your business is your best option), and I never heard from them. That's my plan when the next jury summons finds me until my children are much older and can be left home by themselves after school!

SwimminNotSinkin posted 6/8/2014 22:12 PM

I own a veterinary clinic although I am not a veterinarian. Twice in the past 2 years, I have had my veterinarian called for jury duty. I simply wrote a letter asking that she be excused and explaining why. Basically, the business couldn't function without her presence (which would be the same in your case). She was excused both times. I would think your situation would be the same. So, if it happens, especially during your busy season, just fill out the form you will get in the mail and attach a letter explaining your circumstances.

Kajem posted 6/9/2014 14:59 PM


You are self employed, if your business is registered you may not get a jury duty summons. The court clerk in my county has HS interns cross reference data bases like this to avoid having too many jurors absent at a time.

Breathe. You're self employed, you will be excused.

EvenKeel posted 6/11/2014 08:05 AM

In my state, I got a questionaire first that asked questions like "Do you have any conditions that would inhibit your ability to perform jury duty?" (or something like that). Anxiety attacks are a condition.

I think you have a few "outs" between work and your anxieties.

If for some reason, you do have to appear, previous poster is right...they only select a few folks and there are all sorts of questions they ask ahead of time that eliminate folks right off the bat. They are not going to want someone on the jury that has such panic in them that they are not able to even think/here the testimonies.

Since this is really weighing on your mind, have you ever considered just visiting a courtroom? Most cases are open to the could just go and sit in the back for a few minutes to see how you really feel once you get in there, etc.

tushnurse posted 6/11/2014 08:12 AM

I own a landscaping company and only have one truck for my company which would be needed for me to get to court. If I had to serve for a week I would lose my business. Since I'm the owner I couldn't write a note for myself.

So if you were called it would be a financial hardship on you to not be out earning your income. That right there will get you excused.

And PJ is right, if your anxiety is that bad, a Dr's note will work too.

I get called up more than any other person I know, seriously like once every other year at a minimum. Each time I have been excused as it would create a hardship for my employer to have me out for an unknown or extended period of time, having a special skill set that others cannot perform.

I also just got another call up last week!!! So when I saw your topic, I had to peek.

doggiediva posted 6/11/2014 08:43 AM

I used to get called every other year too..I would have to drive 25 miles from where I live to reach the downtown courthouse district. I live in one of the 4 largest metro areas in the country..So for me it was the thoughts of DRIVING to the courthouse that put me on edge...
As a juror, I usually got eliminated, I was usually free to go before noon, lol..
It has been four or five years since my having to go down town for JD...My most recent jury duties (two) lasted just long enough for me to go to my local courthouse (who summoned me), be told that case got settled, be given my jury duty certificate for work, and be on my merry way..I think there is a new trend beginning in our area, that of summoning jurors from the same town in which the courthouse is located..
I know that severe anxiety is a disability ..Most summons have an area of questions which you can answer regarding disability and being unable to serve, you complete this portion and send the summons back by snail mail..

UndecidedinMA posted 6/11/2014 12:30 PM

Myname, I have never ever ever ever heard of ANYONE getting into trouble for not showing up for jury duty. The clerk has WAY too much to do, to try to chase down no-shows. They use intimidating notices but I've never heard of any repercussions for not showing up.

There is a movement in many states because it has gotten hard to get a jury pool to punish no shows. Here in MA a warrant will be issued if you no show & no contact the pool office. So either way you end up in court, on eenot so pleasant.

If you get a summons there will most likely be a number you can call. They can explain exactly how to get dismissed.

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