There is nothing necessarily glamorous about jury duty. Countless movie and television dramatizations aside, it is a simple, yet necessary component of our judicial system and process. It means nothing without your participation though.
Nobody really looks forward to receiving a summons in the mail that demands their time and full attention. A jury summons knows not of individual schedules or inconveniences that it might cause someone. Despite the demanding nature, you must address the summons if you receive one. DO NOT discard or ignore the jury summons. Failing to report, if you have not been granted and excusal or postponement, could result in contempt charges.
The court understands not everyone can perform their duty as requested. There is a list of circumstances that are cause for potential excusal. For the Florida judicial system, those include:
- Expectant mothers
- A parent, who is not employed full time, and has custody of a child under 6 years of age
- Was summoned and reported as a prospective juror in this county within the past 12 months
- Is 70 years of age or older
- Responsible for the care of another who because of mental or physical incapacity is incapable of caring for himself/herself
- Is a full-time federal, state or local law enforcement officer
- Is a full-time student between 18 and 21 years of age attending high school, college, or career center
- Is deaf or hearing-impaired
- Is a convicted felon whose civil rights are not restored
- Is currently under prosecution for a crime
- No longer resides in the county requesting Because of significant hardship, extreme inconvenience, physical infirmity, or public necessity (Explanation would be needed for this one)
These exemptions are listed in the summons. If you need to request excusal, it can be done either by mail, email, or in person. This needs to be done by the time limit listed.
On the other hand, if you are willing and able to do your duty, just follow the directions on the summons. Reporting times and locations will be included, too.
The Office of the State Courts Administrator sums it up nicely: “Trial by jury is a concept central to American democracy. When you serve as a juror, you are making our democracy stronger.”
Thank you for helping make our justice system work.