Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | December 26, 2020 | Personal Injury
Though many people might not like it, jury duty is one of the most important civic duties a citizen of the United States has. A robust judiciary literally could not function without juries made up of ordinary citizens.
Both criminal and civil courts rely on juries. Every case from felony murder all the way to a car accident lawsuit has the potential to be decided by a jury of one’s peers.
In New York, however, not everyone is required or eligible to serve on a jury.
In order to be summoned to jury duty, a person needs to:
- Be a United States citizen
- Live in the county in which they have been summoned to jury duty
- Be at least 18 years of age or older
- Be able to communicate in English
- Never have been convicted of a felony
If you have completed jury duty recently, you might not be required to do so again for a number of years. The length of time between serving depends on the court but can range anywhere from two to eight years.
Postponing Jury Service in New York
The New York Unified Court System allows individuals to postpone their jury service one time. In order to request a postponement, all you have to do is fill out the online form or call 800-449-2819. You will need to know your jury index number. When requesting a postponement you will also need to choose another date of service sometime in the next two to six months.
Finally, make sure you request your postponement at least one week before your jury service is set to begin. In rare circumstances, you can seek an excusal. In order to do so, you need to request one directly from the commissioner of jurors in your county.
How Much Do Jurors Get Paid?
Some people want to skip out on jury service because they feel they can’t miss work. While you won’t get rich serving on a jury, jurors do receive a daily stipend for their service paid either by the state or the individual’s employer if that employer is large enough.
The daily stipend is $40, though it can be higher for trials that last more than 30 days. If money is not your concern but you are worried about missing work and/or losing your job, note that an employer is required by law to let you fulfill your jury service and cannot fire you for doing so.
What If You Skip Jury Duty?
Skipping jury duty is not something you want to do. For one, it hurts the state’s courts when individuals don’t show up and take jury duty seriously. However, there are also penalties you could face if you do decide to skip your jury duty.
If you skip jury duty, a judge could hold you in contempt of court. This can come with a fine of up to $250. On top of that, you would still be ordered to serve your jury at another time. It is far easier to request a postponement if necessary, choose a new date, and in the end, complete your jury service.
Completing Your Jury Duty
The many benefits and rights of being a U.S. citizen come with relatively few civic responsibilities. Of course, voting is one, but there is no punishment for those who choose not to cast a ballot. Jury duty on the other hand is a requirement and comes with penalties if you fail to complete it.
However, even though many might gripe about it, the overwhelming majority of citizens fulfill their civic duty and take their jury duty seriously. For that, judges and lawyers are grateful.