“There were eleven votes for ‘guilty.’ It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.” – Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men
Jury service is a civil duty. Our system would collapse without the diligent individuals who respond and serve, but the law does provide exemptions and exceptions which may be utilized to be excused. Part 2 of this blog will explore those circumstances.
Louisiana provides two general exemptions from jury service.
1 – Age. Persons seventy years of age or older shall be exempt from jury service and may decline to serve as jurors. La. Const. Ann. art. V, § 33. However, they are free to serve if otherwise qualified.
2 – Prior Service. The second, all “persons who have served as grand or petit jurors in criminal cases or as trial jurors in civil cases or in a central jury pool during a period of two years immediately preceding their selection for jury service.” La. Sup. Ct. R. 25.
No exemption is automatic. A prospective juror qualifying for one of the above exemptions must assert the exemption by contacting the appropriate jury commission.
In criminal cases, a juror may be excused when such service “would result in undue hardship or extreme inconvenience.” C.Cr.P. art. 783
In civil cases, a juror may be excused when service would result in “undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.” However, these circumstances are limited to circumstances in which an individual would:
1. Be required to abandon a person under his or her personal care or supervision due to the impossibility of obtaining an appropriate substitute care giver during the period of participation in the jury pool or on the jury; or
2. Incur costs that would have a substantial adverse impact on the payment of the individual’s necessary daily living expenses or on those for whom he or she provides the principal means of support; or
3. Suffer physical hardship due to an existing illness or disease. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3042
With respect to both criminal and civil service, a request for excusal can be mailed to the issuing court and should include an explanation of circumstances. In most cases, the letter must also include supporting documentation, such as, “state income tax returns, medical statements from licensed physicians, proof of dependency or guardianship, and similar documents, which the judge finds to clearly support the request to be excused.” “Failure to provide documentation shall result in a denial of the request for a waiver.” La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3042
You should serve if you can but, if you need to be excused, questions regarding exemptions, excusals, and/or qualifications should be directed to the appropriate jury commissioner’s office.