Has anyone been called for US District Court jury service?

MarinaGalMay 17, 2014

I am called for jury duty constantly (10 times in 25 years - they often call me within the three year grace period). I have only served one jury, but yesterday I got called for Federal Court in Boston. I have to be on call and/or go in for 15 days and possibly serve on a long trial. I have two kids 6 and 10 who aren't in school or camp for two of these three weeks, plus my husband travels out of state (or country) for at least two days almost every week of the year. I am at home mom and we have no family in the area at all. So - it seems like that should be a consideration but on the form I have to return the only excuse for child care is if you have a child whose health or safety would be in jeopardy if you serve. I wouldn't mind serving, but all the local camps are full already, I have no regular sitter, and I am the person who stays home when my kids are sick, when there is an emergency, etc - this is making me very anxious and I wonder whether anyone here has been in a similar situation, and how the Federal Courts handle these kinds of situations. Ugh....

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Of course you apply for and receive the exemption! I'm surprised you would even question why you wouldn't be excused.

Your children are 6 and 10. You are the primary caregiver. OF COURSE you can't leave them home alone. That would put their safety in jeopardy!

The court cannot compel you to hire a babysitter or stick them in a day camp. Nor would they try.

Just fill in the form, claim the exemption, and send it in.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Yes, they can compel you to hire a sitter and they will provide the cost. However, they most likely will not do that. When I was called for Federal Jury Duty and young woman who worked as a nanny for a couple who are a doctor and lawyer was excused because there was no one else to watch the kids.

If you are called in as apart of the group who they will choose the jury from, be sure to raise your hand and say why you cannot serve. I think everyone who had an excuse was not called.

I, of course, had no excuse, and served on a jury for two weeks. It was the trial of a woman who embezzled from her company's credit union. It was totally fascinating and I would do it again.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 3:37PM
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In ct we can be called for state court every three court years and fed. Court every 2 yrs, I believe, but when I served state I still had to appear for Federal court one month after, serving one only keeps you from not being called for that court it does not excuse you from the other...

With federal you may postpone for up to ten months I believe and list three better dates usually. SAH's can call a number that will let you be excused for one year, the number is on the summons, I have often done that with hopes
that I will not be called again but alas with me that is never the case, I have served 18 times in 27 years. A "court year" is not always a full 12 months, it depends on when you served:(.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 7:09PM
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I enjoyed serving on a federal jury. My kids were in school at the time, though. The only bad thing was that the case was soooo interesting, and we had hostile witnesses, etc. and then the case settled just before we would have diliberated.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:57PM
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When I was called to Federal Jury duty over a decade ago, I was the SAHM who took three children to three schools. I wasn't excused.

I was randomly selected (by computer) for a Grand Jury two years ago. It was extremely eye-opening, fascinating, and oh yes, disturbing. I have never been selected for a Federal or Civil jury, and would love to. But the Judge told us since we had served on a Grand Jury, we would most likely be struck forever more.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:08AM
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Hmm, here in CT the "taking three children to three schools" worked for me.

I served on a murder trial involving gangs once. It was fascinating. My gut feel was that the guy was guilty, but I did not feel that the state proved it's case within the standards required. I felt it was more important to follow the letter of the law and give the defendant their due process, then to follow my instincts. But it doesn't feel very good.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:48AM
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I received a summons to serve in Fed Dist Court about 2 weeks after my husband died very unexpectedly - so I was a mess. Then near the one year anniversary of his death, I received another summons. I had already planned to be out of town to relieve some of the stress, with plane tix paid for, plans made, etc. and they wouldn't excuse me. I talked to a very sympathetic clerk who told me to go ahead & go, call in at the appointed time, & hope I wasn't told to show up. She said if I was & didn't show up, I wouldn't be arrested or anything; they give you a pass one time. But I should never avoid going again if I was ever summoned again. I wasn't called & have never been summoned again. I would love to serve on a jury and never have.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:26AM
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I think that's the jury I was summoned for a few years ago. I get summoned for jury duty every year! For that particular jury, the call was for two weeks of primary call and then two weeks of secondary call. I could reschedule once (so, essentially, life on hold for a month- this is in SF bay area). I asked for the first reschedule, said that I could do it any time except starting one particular day as I was returning from a trip that day, and they scheduled my start day that day! I called and, thankfully, someone had recorded that piece of information, so I was excused. I haven't been called again. It is a big commitment.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 3:03AM
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I served a few months ago. I have served a few times but have not been picked for a trial since I'm an attorney and many trial lawyers don't want other lawyers on their juries. This time I was picked. I did notice, though, that almost everyone who raised their hands before the voir dire and voiced a valid reason to be excused was let go.

At first I was pretty annoyed to be picked, but ended up enjoying the experience. It was a criminal case and I thought it was fascinating. At the end I felt proud to be part of the process. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I do realize that being on a jury can be a big imposition when you have young kids and this comment is not directed at mothers. But in general, I think people (me included) spend more energy trying to get out of jury duty than it warrants. It dawned on me during the process that if I were on trial for something, I would hope that all the intelligent people in the world had not received exemptions and that there were actually some left to hear my case.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:22AM
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I was thinking about this this morning, and remembering, as SAS said, that a lot of people got out of serving during the "voir dire" phase. It's to no one's benefit to have a distracted or peeved juror.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 8:41AM
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Thanks for all of your insightful and constructive comments. I have processed this and relaxed a little. I also found some accounts from jurors who have served on Federal trials on line and it sounds like an amazing experience. So - while my circumstances wouldn't make me ideal for a super long trial while my kids are still young, I decided that on my form I will outline my situation and then request at a minimum a postponement to a date during the school year when I would have some reliable certain child care during the day.

I think what upset me most is that I am called so often and a lot of people my age have never been called. I know I am not the only person who is called frequently by a long shot, but shouldn't there be a way to spread this service out more evenly? Next I am certain it will a grand jury summons....

sas95 - I do understand what you are saying. I truly enjoyed my experience as a juror on the one trial I served on. I was impressed by how thorough and thoughtful we were as jurors. At the time I had no child care concerns so it was very easy to manage. I keep saying to my husband, I would be thrilled to get a summons like this when our kids are older - just not now!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:21PM
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From the Federal Judicial Center web site:

How often can a person be required to serve on a federal jury?

In a two-year period, a person cannot be required to serve as a petit juror for a total of more than thirty days, unless it takes more than thirty days to complete service in a particular case;
serve on more than one grand jury; or
serve as both a grand juror and a petit juror.

However, a person may fulfill the federal jury service requirement and still be called for state jury duty during the same two-year period.

Here is a link that might be useful: Federal Judicial Center

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 2:45PM
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So.... I ended up requesting simply a postponement to dates during the school year - but I was excused instead. My service would have started tomorrow - and I just read that juror selection begins tomorrow for the trial of one of the friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I definitely am feeling some regret - what an amazing case that would have been! On the other hand, my husband just left for an international business trip and will be gone all week and my girls have no camp this week, so serving would not have been easy, but still......

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 3:08PM
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MarinaGal, that would have been one heck of a trial! I also don't understand why some people are called often to serve, but others like myself have never been called.

My late MIL served on a jury about every 3 years. She loved it!

In fact, she served so often (in a large city) that during one voir dire she was asked if she knew any of the attorneys. She said, "Yes." They asked her who, and she said, "My son." LOL. DH wasn't there during the voir dire, someone else was, but that was hilarious!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 7:16PM
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