What do you do with a Jury Duty Summons when you know you’ll be out of town?
I’ve been called for both Federal and County jury duty multiple times. Each time I receive a date that I’m to report for jury duty, I already have travel plans for my business. I don’t mind serving as long as I’m in the state at the time requested. Since I travel more than 45 weeks each year, chances are I’ll be booked on a flight already.
If you’re served a Jury Summons and will be out of town, here are some actions to take:
Ask for a new date when you will be available. You may be granted a reprieve for a few months, so plan ahead to a time when you may not be traveling. For me, I asked for Thanksgiving week as my new date since that’s a rare business travel week. You will most likely not be granted a permanent reprieve, but this will buy you time to arrange your schedule.
When you receive your summons or notice there should be a website or phone number to call to request a change of date. There may be an online form to complete. I received a follow-up phone call from my county telling me that I would not be permanently excused, but we were able to arrive at an alternative date.
Be Prepared with Your Travel Information. I haven’t yet had to prove my travel plans were in place, but I could if I needed to. An itinerary, non-refundable airplane ticket, hotel confirmation, meeting or convention info, a letter from your employer, etc… whatever you have that can show you will be out of town (or had been out of town, in the event you didn’t report for jury duty as summoned).
Ask About Your Local Requirements. Each state and local court has their own guidelines for acceptable reasons for being excused, either temporarily or permanently, from jury duty. For example, being a single parent of school age children or in an extreme financial situation may be valid reasons for a longer-term or permanent excusal.
Be Agreeable to Serve in the Future. Explain that you’ll be happy to serve as a juror upon your return in the event you need a postponement.
Serve When Requested. If possible, serve the first time you receive the summons. After that, you will most likely be put on the list of people who have served and thus less likely to be called again in the near future.
Avoid These Travel Excuses and Demands:
“If I serve on jury duty, I’ll not get my airline miles and hotel points for that time.”
“I’ll only serve if I can sit in the first class row of the juror box.”
“If I get sequestered, I’ll only stay at a Marriott, Hilton, etc. with executive lounge service.”
“You’ll have to reimburse me for my flight change fee.”
Government courts do not care about your change fees or non-refundable tickets. So contact your court as soon as you receive the summons and you should be ok to select a new date. This will usually work the first time you need to postpone, and maybe the second. It will, however, not work forever. I’ve been told by the Federal Court that I’ve used up all my excuses and when they call me again, I serve.
And now you’ll know what I’ll be doing on the Monday of Thanksgiving Week – reporting for jury duty.
To receive a free copy of our ebook, 70 Secrets to Safe Travel — Because Your Life Can Change in a Heartbeat, and for more travel savvy info to help you travel smarter, safer and with more enjoyment, visit SmartWomenTravelers.com and PearlsofTravelWisdom.com. Watch for Carol’s new book, Business Travel Success … How to Reduce Stress, Be More Productive and Travel with Confidence, being published by Morgan James in 2011.
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