There are many reasons why a Judge may excuse a potential juror from serving on a jury. Some are legitimate, others not, however, there are legal excuses that can be used to be excused from juror duty, here are the top 5 grounds for being excused and they all revolve around the legal category of “Undue Hardship”. In fact, according to the California Judge’s Benchguide, a Torrance Judge may may excuse a prospective juror from jury service on the ground of undue hardship for any of the following reasons:
1. No transportation. The prospective juror has no reasonably available means of public or private transportation to the court.
2. Excessive distance. The prospective juror must travel an excessive distance. Unless otherwise established by statute or local rule, an excessive distance is reasonable travel time exceeding one and one-half hours from the juror’s home to the court.
3. Extreme financial burden. The prospective juror will bear an extreme financial burden. In determining whether a Judge should excuse a juror on this ground, they should consider all sources of the juror’s household income, the availability and extent of income reimbursement, the expected length of jury service, and whether that service can reasonably be expected to compromise the juror’s ability to support himself or herself or his or her dependents or will so disrupt the juror’s economic stability as to be against the interests of justice. Some reduction in income is not a valid hardship excuse. In short trials, the fact that the juror’s employer does not pay employees who serve is seldom a valid hardship excuse. Courts should excuse a prospective juror only “when the financial embarrassment is such as to impose a real burden and hardship. Some civil trials can take weeks to be tried, criminal cases often are much quicker, however, a death penalty case could take months, therefore this is a valid concern form many prospective jurors.
4. Care of others. The prospective juror has a personal obligation to provide actual and necessary care to another, including sick, aged, or infirm dependents, or a child who requires the juror’s personal care and attention, and no comparable substitute care is available or practical without imposing an undue economic hardship on the juror or the person for whom care is needed. If the request to be excused is based on care provided to a sick, disabled, or infirm person, the Judge may require the juror to furnish verification that the person being cared for is in need of regular and personal care. The Court must excuse a mother who is breast-feeding a child for up to one year at her request and may extend the period on request.
5. Undue risk of physical or mental harm. The prospective juror has a physical or mental disability or impairment, not affecting his or her competence to act as a juror, that would expose the juror to undue risk of mental or physical harm. Many Judges may require a juror under the age of 70 to furnish verification of the disability or impairment, its probable duration, and the particular reasons for his or her inability to serve as a juror.