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Jury Duty: What you Need to Know

Jury Duty: What you Need to Know

On the Buttafuoco & Associates blog, we’ve frequently discussed the intricacies of personal injury cases and how qualified personal injury attorneys can assist you in the event of an injury. But we often get questions from former and current clients about the ins and outs of jury duty. What is expected? How long will it take? Are there ways to avoid it? Today, I’ll try to answer the top questions we hear at the firm.

What do I Wear to Jury Duty?

The particulars of how to dress for court is dependent on the court system; for example, is it a Local, State, or Federal Court? While most courts have no formal dress code, the following guidelines are safe for most situations:

  • Count on business casual. While you can dress more formally for jury duty, most advice recommends business casual clothing. Your attire and appearance will show that you are taking the important role of juror seriously. The Eastern District of New York Federal Court explicitly requests “business attire” or “business casual.” Avoid jeans and sneakers.
  • Dress comfortably. Even while avoiding casual clothing, you’ll want to make sure you’ll be comfortable sitting for long hours. Selection can be an extensive process, so you’ll want to wear something comfy for the selection process. And of course, if you are selected, this is even more important as days in court can be incredibly long.
  • Avoid excess jewelry or other metal. In most courthouses, you will be asked to go through a metal detector on your way into the building. Not wearing jewelry or other metal will make the process of entering less cumbersome.

The New Jersey state court system states that jurors should dress “appropriate[ly] for an appearance in court,” and prohibit t-shirts, shorts, uniforms, and offensive graphics or text. New York specifically asks jurors to “not wear shorts, cutoffs, tank tops, jeans, sandals or halter tops.” Federal courts also tend to have more formal guidelines.

How Long Does Jury Duty Take?

The duration of jury duty can vary. Many individuals who are summoned for jury duty are never selected and are dismissed after a few days. The selection process itself can be extensive, and if chosen, you might spend long hours in court. The exact time commitment depends on the case’s complexity. In some cases, it may be appropriate to ask the trial judge as to the anticipated length of a case so you can make arrangements.

How do I Get Out of Jury Duty?

While jury duty is a civic responsibility, and without juries we would not have a fair and equitable court system, certain exemptions or deferrals may apply based on your circumstances. Each jurisdiction has specific rules, but legitimate reasons might include medical issues, family emergencies, or other hardships. Check with your local court to understand the process for seeking an exemption or deferral.

In New York, the court requires that requests for deferral or exemption be made prior to your date of service, and you will need to supply proof. Common examples include:

  • Medical Exemption: This requires a statement by a physician that you have a condition that would interfere with your ability to serve on a jury.
  • Caregiver Exemption: If you are a caregiver for children under 16 or other individuals, such as an ill family member, you may need birth certificates or a doctor’s diagnosis, along with a statement explaining the situation.
  • Financial Exemption: If you’re undergoing severe financial hardship, you may be able to be exempt from jury duty, if the commitment will make you unable to provide for your family. A statement describing the situation along with appropriate documentation will be expected.
  • Student Exemption: Full-time students may be exempt from jury duty and will be expected to supply a student ID or current course schedule.

New Jersey has slightly different rules for who may be excused from jury duty. In New Jersey, you may be exempt if you…

  • Are 75 years or older.
  • Have a medical condition.
  • Will suffer severe financial hardship.
  • Served on a jury within the last three years.
  • Care for a minor or a sick or infirm individual without alternative care.
  • Provide specialized medical care.
  • Are a healthcare worker involved in caring for an individual with a disability.
  • Are a member of volunteer fire department.
  • Are an active member of the military.
  • Are a full-time teacher.

At Buttafuoco & Associates, we know that receiving a jury summons can seem intrusive or intimidating, but jury duty plays a crucial role in upholding the justice system. Understanding what to wear, anticipating the potential time commitment, and knowing the legitimate reasons for exemption or deferral can make the experience significantly more manageable.


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