Can you be excused from jury duty for anxiety?

In this blog we will discuss if you can be excused from jury duty for anxiety. 

We will also discuss what jury duty is, what can be done to apply for excusal, and what are the consequences if you skip  jury duty.

Can you be excused from jury duty for anxiety?

Yes, it is possible that you can be excused from jury duty for anxiety if your anxiety is disability or if you believe that the symptoms of your anxiety- such as inability to focus, panic attacks, etc, can lead to a mistrial.

In most cases, you will need to apply for an exemption by calling into the appointed office and letting them know about your condition. You will be required to send across information related to yoru diagnosis and treatment through a doctor’s note. 

Usually, sending across the information within seven days of the summons should be done; however , if you are chosen for the jury pool, you can either mail or fax the documents to the office or specify your condition during the interview with the judge and lawyers during the Voir Dire process. 

Make sure that in either cases, you specify whether your condition is temporary or permanent and whether you will need a postponement or an expedition entirely. 

How to apply to be excused for jury duty?

Once you have been summoned by the counts for jury duty once you have become a legal adult, you can do a few things to be excused from jury duty.

In case of medical disability

For any individual who has a medical condition that can be categorised as a disability, you can be exempted from jury duty indefinitely. 

However, you must provide proof of disability to the court or the office. You can do this through a phone call and a mail where you submit documents that prove your situation. 

For individuals with medical conditions- mental and physical- that affect yo9ur ability to perform your duty as a jury, it is most possible that you will be exempted.

In case of medical illness

It has to be mentioned that the courts will go to significant lengths to accommodate individuals who have medical illnesses without it being diabiliting so that they jurors can attend. 

For example, the count will allow breaks for someone who is diabetic or someone who has issues related to toilet use.

In the case that your medical condition does not allow you to attend to your duties, you can send across proof of your condition to the summoning office, including a doctor’s note for your condition. 

When you have been summoned as part of the juror poop, you will be given the chance to be questioned and have a conversation with the judge and the lawyers during a process called Voir Dire. 

It is during this process that an individual will have mental illnesses such as anxiety take the opportunity for concerns about one’s conditions to make it known to them. 

You can mention that you fear that you might have a panic attack in court, or severe social anxiety as a juror, or that you are unable to to focus- all of which can lead to a mistrial.

This can either have to be dismissed from the juror pool or  accommodations to be made. If you believe that your mental illness is diabily , there is a possibility that you can be exempted indefinitely if you submit proof to the summoning office, including a doctor’s note for your condition. 

 For prior commitments

If you have a prior commitment, you can apply for your appointed date and time to be postponed. 

In some cases, one can apply for a delay or postponement only one time and only up to six months from the date you have been summoned. 

The post postponed date cannot be further postponed and cannot be excused. It is also very important to know that even if you apply for postponements, you cannot confirm that the count will grant it. 

Meaninging that even after you apply, you might be required to attend the hearing and the court will expect you to serve on that date

It is also important to mention that one can request an exemption from jury duty for an indefinite time because of various reasons such as medical reasons, financial hardships, because you are a student or caregiver etc.

To apply for exemptions, you must submit proof of your situation and while you do apply, it is not guaranteed that exemptions applications will be accepted. 

Other reasons

Other reasons why one can get excused for jury duty include:

  • Currently a full time student; you will need to send in admissions or class schedules to the office.
  • You have had jury duty in the past year, you will send it to the attendance sheet.
  • You have military duty, send in information from superior to verify
  • You are a minor
  • You are not a citizen
  • You no longer live in the state
  • You do not speak the language of the state or country
  • You have a conviction
  • Employment conflict, you will need to send in a letter from your supervision or company head
  • The individual is deceased, you will have to update information through the office
  • Financial hardship, you will have to send in a letter that mentioned that since the jury duty is not compensated, it will be a financial hardship for you.
  • Emergency and first responders should also send in information related to their work through their offices.

What is jury duty?

Jury duty is a civic duty in most countries where an adult citizen of a state or country must serve as a juror within a court trial or proceeding. 

Any citizen who is an adult, and who has not served a prior sentence can be called for jury duty and this is part of one’s civic duty to ensure the defendant or the accused the right to a trial and jury. 

As a citizen, you will be asked to serve for both civil and criminal cases and you must appear for the summons or else you will be held liable or risk being penalised by the court. 

How does Jury duty work?

The jury duty process is as follows:

You will be summoned for jury duty once you are a legal adult. The summons will be via mail or phone call that gives you details of a particular time, date, and place.

Once you arrive at the court assigned to you, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and you will go through the jury selection process where the jury is selected out of a jury pool.

Once you have been selected, you will have to be present for the trail at the mentioned date. 

In the case that you can’t be present for that particular date and time, you will have to call in and request for a delay or postponement for another time, you must provide an alternate time or date as to when you can work. 

The rules for requesting a postponement will vary from one jurisdiction to the next. In some cases, one can apply for a delay or postponement only one time and only up to six months from the date you have been summoned. 

The post postponed date cannot be further postponed and cannot be excused. It is also very important to know that even if you apply for postponements, you cannot confirm that the count will grant it. 

Meaninging that even after you apply, you might be required to attend the hearing and the court will expect you to serve on that date

It is also important to mention that one can request an exemption from jury duty for an indefinite time because of various reasons such as medical reasons, financial hardships, because you are a student or caregiver etc.

To apply for exemptions, you must submit proof of your situation and while you do apply, it is not guaranteed that exemptions applications will be accepted. 

How is the Jury selected?

The jury selection process is as follows:

  • In each district, the court randomly selects names of the citizens from the list of registered voters as well as registered driving licences. Each individual is part of the district and lives within that district.
  • The individuals who have been selected are then summoned and asked to complete a questionnaire that explores their ability to serve on a jury. The responses are then randomly selected to appear for jury duty on a specific date and time. 
  • This random selection is done so that the jury represents populations across communities, race, gender, natiaan origin, age, and political views. 
  • Once you have been summoned, it does not mean that you will be serving. The jury members who qualify will be taken into the courtroom and the judge and attorneys will ask the potential jurors various questions to determine their suitability. 
  • Now the questions that will be asked and this entire process is called “Voir Dire” where the judge and attorney will determine which of the potential juros do not qualify in the sense that they will not be able to decide the case fairly because of various issues. For example, a potential juror has had similar experiences of the trial case or they know people within the case, they have strong prejudices related to race and gender etc. 
  • During this particular process, the laurels of both sides are allowed to question and interview the potential jury member, and if they find that there is a reason to be dismissed, the individual is removed from the jury pool.
  • Another reason why a jury member is dismissed could simply be because the jury seats are full and the individual will have to return back to their lives- work, family etc. 
  • Now, when the potential jury is selected, they will have to understand that the trial can go for a few hours to a few months and they might also be separated from their normal life until the verdict is reached by the court. 
  • In cases where jury duty impacts an individual professional life, the company’s or the employer’s woollies related to jury duty should cover both the interest of the employee as well the employers- where the employee must be treated fairly.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed if you can be excused from jury duty for anxiety. 

We have also discussed what jury duty is, what can be done to apply for excusal, and what are the consequences if you skip  jury duty.

What are the types of Cases Heard by Juries?

The usually types of cases that are heard by juries include:

  • Criminal trials
  • Civil trials

What is a criminal trial?

Criminal trial where an indidvdiaul is accused of commiting a crime against society as a whole for example, murder cases. In these types of hearing, the jury is made up for 12 people and a unanimous decision must be made by the jurors for the defendant to be found guilty,

What is a civil trial?

Civil cases where the issues surrounding  private wrongs such as assault, battery, fraud, negligence etc and the jury is made up of six people at the least. Similar to criminal trials, the jury must come to a unanimous decision or at the least the proof should be “more true than not”.

What Happens if You Skip Jury Duty?

If you skip jury duty without informing the office about why you can’t attend to the jury summons, it is possible that you will be subjected to a legal recourse and you will be fined a penalty. 

The penalty that you will be subjected to for skippy jury duty differs according to state laws or laws of the country, however, in most cases it will be a small fine. 

How to appeal for a postponement for jury?

Usually, when the summons have been sent by the government or by the Jury summoning bureau it is important that you respond to the letter and the notification within seven days in the case that you plan to not serve the dates that you have been summoned for. 

You might have to enclose a doctor’s notes with your response to the letter, in the case of a medical reason, or any other official documents that clearly state why you cannot attend- be it because you are a full time student, or because you have military duty etc. 

What happens after jury pool?

If you have been chosen from the jury pool, and you are a serving jury member, you have to make sure that you do attend the court dates, if not you will be subjected to fine and penalty. 

References

Can You Be Excused From Jury Duty for Anxiety? Don’t panic, Do this. Retrieved on 12 feb 2022. https://dontpanicdothis.com/can-you-be-excused-from-jury-duty-for-anxiety/

Howell.D. Failure to Attend Jury Service. Courtroom Advice. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. http://www.courtroomadvice.co.uk/failure-attend-jury-service.html

Reasons for Being Excused from Jury Service. PierceCountry. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://www.piercecountywa.gov/2381/Reasons-for-Being-Excused-from-Jury-Serv

Learn About Jury Service. UnitedStatesCourts. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service/learn-about-jury-service

Heathfield.S. What Is Jury Duty? The Balance Careers. Retrieved on 12 Feb 2022. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-jury-duty-1917981#toc-what-is-jury-duty

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