Jill Kolodner | April 17, 2023 | Maryland Law
One of the most sacred obligations placed upon American citizens is serving on a jury. Juries are essential to the resolution of civil disputes (such as those based on medical malpractice or wrongful death) and criminal cases. In either case, they depend on citizens willingly responding to the call to serve.
While serving on a jury may be a patriotic duty, it can also be inconvenient at best and a significant hardship at worst. As a result, it is not uncommon for people to try to get out of serving on a jury.
As tempting as it may be to simply not show up for jury duty, doing so can lead to unpleasant consequences. If you have a legitimate reason for not serving on a jury, there is a way to make this known and get out of jury duty.
How Are People Selected for Jury Duty?
Some people live their whole lives without ever being summoned for jury duty, while others may be called to serve several times over a few years.
Potential jurors are chosen at random from a list consisting of licensed motorists, registered voters, and people with Maryland identification cards. This pool of potential jurors is then dipped into every time a jury is needed, and an appropriate number of people from the pool are summoned to appear.
Reasons You May Be Excused From Jury Service
The jury summons is a court order to appear. Disregarding the summons or not appearing as directed is considered disobeying a court’s order, which can be punished by the court with its contempt powers. In extreme cases, this can include a jail sentence or fines.
Rather than simply not showing up, consider whether you have a legitimate reason for being excused from serving on a jury. If so, contact the number listed on your summons and explain your situation. Some of the reasons you may be excused by the court include:
You Are Not Legally Eligible To Serve
If you are no longer a resident of Baltimore, or if you have been convicted of a felony, you may not be eligible to serve on a Baltimore jury. You are also not legally able to serve on a jury if you have a matter that is presently pending before the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
You Have a Physical Impairment, Language Limitation, or Other Condition
Jury service can involve sitting and listening to evidence for long periods of time. If you cannot physically accomplish this because of a documented medical issue, you may be excused from service.
Poor eyesight or poor hearing may also be grounds to excuse you from service since you need to be able to see and hear witnesses. Persons over the age of 70 are also not required to serve on jury duty in Baltimore.
Finally, you may also be excused if your understanding of English is limited.
You Have Other Extenuating Circumstances
The court also has the discretion to excuse you from service for other unique circumstances, such as a long-planned vacation or a necessary surgery that you cannot reschedule. These circumstances might include:
- You are the sole caregiver for an at-risk adult or young child
- You are the only operator of your small business, and shuttering your business to serve on a jury would be financially ruinous
- You are a first responder or doctor, and your absence would put others’ lives or property at risk
These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. If excused, the court may require you to return for service on a different jury pool at a later date.
Being Excused From Jury Service in Baltimore, Maryland
No matter the reason you believe you should not have to serve on a jury, you should communicate with the Jury Commissioner as soon as possible. Failing to appear for jury duty without being excused by the Commissioner can result in up to 60 days of imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines.
Contact the Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Law Firm Today For Help
For more information contact the personal injury law firm of WGK Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.
WGK Personal Injury Lawyers
14 W Madison St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States