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Can I Get Out of Jury Duty?

Carolyn Woodruff
Dear Carolyn,

I got this paper in the mail called Summons. It is for jury service. I just got a new job, and I’m afraid my employer will fire me. How do I get out of this jury service?

– Don’t want to be a juror

Dear “Don’t Want to Be a Juror,”

This answer assumes a summons for State court jury service. You have to honor a jury summons, and failure to appear as directed by a jury summons could land you in jail. Concerning your employer, it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for service as a juror. The employer cannot demote you or fire you because of jury service. The employer does not have to pay you for missed work for jury service, and the fee to be a juror from the State is $12 for the first day and $20 for the next four days. After five days, you are paid $40 per day.

The juror summons has an address you can write and ask that your jury duty is put on some later date. Given you are in new employment, you might ask via a letter for a later date, and you might even suggest a date a few months out. Medical reasons and prior vacation plans are good reasons for deferral.

There are several reasons that you can be excused altogether from jury service. You must be a citizen and resident of the County to which you are summoned. You can be excused if you have served as a juror in the last two years. You can be excused if your English is weak. You cannot serve if you are a convicted felon unless your citizenship has been restored. If you are age 72 or older, you can opt out in your discretion. By the way, at age 72 you can ask to be permanently exempted from further jury service.

The jury system is the hallmark of our justice system, so take the day of jury service as a privilege and learning experience. There is often a lot of waiting for something to happen in the jury pool room at a courthouse. I would take something to read or do. Take a book, game, or your yoga mat. Electronic device policies vary from courthouse to courthouse. Wear comfortable layered clothing that is business casual or business. Take your summons with you as it likely contains scannable information that can speed your access through lines at the courthouse. Enjoy this day of celebration of your citizenship.

Have a family law question? Ask Carolyn!

Send your questions to Ask Carolyn through social media, by email at, or mail them to P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions.

Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your unique case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn.”

This blog is revised from a previous Ask Carolyn published in the Rhino Times. 

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