Juror Duty Summons Postponement?

I’m from NYC and currently in another country for several months. Thus I won’t be back in NYC until sometime next year most likely. I am a digital nomad basically but a struggling one where I barely get by. I found out that I received a jury summons in the mail… this was sent to my NYC mailing address and that person sent me pictures of the summons and it says I have to be there this month.

I do see in the juror duty summons letter, there is an option to postpone it the first time. It does say in the letter, you can postpone it 2-6 months after the date you are suppose to be there.

  1. You can only postpone it one time correct? Is there a way to confirm one has never postposted juror duty before? I have never postponed jury duty but my concern is if say I had jury duty summons but never received it etc. I travel outside the US a lot. Is there a way to find out if you can postpone it?

  2. It does say you can postpone it 2-6 months after the date you are suppose to be there. Now do most people call the phone number on the juror summons letter or go to the website to do this? Most importantly if you do this, is it 100% you will get that date you choose? For example say you choose April 1st, is it 100% you will receive a juror summons a few weeks before that day and that juror duty summons will show April 1st that you have to appear? I ask this because I will travel again after jury duty. I travel abroad a lot and not in the US much. Thus when I come back to the US for a few weeks, I want to make sure I do the juror duty before I leave the country if I’m back in the US. Now what would happen if you want to postpone it a second time? That wouldn’t work then? What I want to make sure though is whatever date I choose, if that is for sure the date 100% as I’m not in the US that much.

  3. Has anyone here ignored a juror duty summons and if so, what happens? What happens if you never received it in the mail or you travel a lot and had no idea you had a summons letter because say your mail just goes to a P.O. Box? What about people that travel all the time abroad and rarely in the US? Thus like how some Americans travel to South America and Europe and rarely in the US? They have to go back for jury duty eventually? Is there a way for me to not do jury duty? Because I would have to plan when exactly I am going back to the US because of this. Thing was I was considering to go to Europe after this but now I can’t?


I once got a notice from the county court system that I had failed to show up for jury duty. I had never received the summons. I contacted the relevant department and explained this, and they were nice about rescheduling me, even though I had additional problems relating to needing to take care of my husband while he was recovering from an injury. Within a few months, DH had to request a couple of reschedules due to his medical situation. At least in my area, they seem willing to accommodate people who are communicating and doing their best to find a time they CAN serve.

This happened to my step daughter except she is not from NYC. She had not been in the county the court was in for at least 6 months. She said she was no longer a citizen of the county. The summons was dismissed.

Relevant laws for New York.

Looks like a 250 dollar fine if they decide to bring proceedings against you and an order to appear for jury duty. Since that’s a court order, failing to respond at that point could get you in trouble, but I don’t know how often the state bothers to do that.

You can get hardship exemptions, but otherwise no. That’s by design. Trial by jury is a cornerstone of our legal system, and it only works if people participate. I expect rich folks who travel all the time just eat the court fees and never appear.

1 - NY’er here though thankfully not the city. You can postpone 1 time per ‘initial’ summons, it’s not a once in a life. You are safe to postpone this initial one. Once you serve or your number does not come up (meaning you were ready to serve but you called the night before to check and they said they don’t need you) you have about 7 years before they can call you (and again you get the auto-postponement). So in theory you may have to serve as soon as 7.5 years after the last time you served.

2 - The postponement just means you go back in the shuffle on that date. It does not mean you will be called, though you might have priority IDK.

3 From personal experience with travel when these little gem letters come in, if you don’t respond to them 2x then the 3rd one is a nastygram. This may vary per jurisdiction however. They come about 1/month.

I would in your situation sent it back via mail with the closest check box that fits your situation and hand write ‘living abroad’ and send a letter with it explaining your situation including any compromise you would like to offer, like you plan to be home during a certain date range and can serve then.

I don’t know about NY, but I’ve postponed a couple of times before. When I was in cancer treatment, they didn’t even reschedule me.

I dis a month of grand jury service. I’ve also been removed during voir dire, and I requested removal from what was to be a multi-day trial when I had oncology imaging in the middle of it.

Contact them directly by email, explain your situation, and ask for their advice / forebearance. Every jurisdiction has different laws, rules, and bureacratic policies / habits. Heck, even within NYC I bet there’s more than one office with more than one set of de facto unwritten rules.

I’m not NYC, but earlier this year I had to postpone the same jury service twice. They were very easy to deal with. Probably because I was up-front with them and made sure to make it sound like I wasn’t trying to weasel out. Which was easy for me since I wasn’t actually trying to weasel out.

As people say, lots of variation. Here in Middlesex, Massachusetts you can postpone any jury duty for up to a year for any or no reason, at least once, using the postcard that’s part of the summons. You also put down what date you want to change to.

According to a lawyer friend, if you really want to lessen your chances of having to serve – especially on a looong trial, select any Thursday or Friday, or any date that’s the day before a holiday. Nobody wants to start their opening arguments and then have the jury head off to a Fourth of July picnic or weekend, and forget everything they already heard. At worst you’ll probably get some pretty simple matter that wraps up in one day.

I’ve used this method three times. Once I was told I didn’t have to come in at all when I called the night before, once I had to come in, but didn’t get sent for the questioning possible jurors part by noon, when they told everyone still sitting in the pool they needn’t come back after lunch, and the final time I did make it to sitting in the jury room while panelists were questioned for a couple hours, but they got their jury picked before it was my turn, back to the pool, and then sent hour a couple hours later.

I think the answer for those people is that they aren’t a resident of any county in the US. I don’t know your exact situation but there’s a difference between a NY resident who is traveling for a month or two after which they will return to their NY residence and someone who no longer lives in New York but goes back to visit family ( at the address they use as a mailing address) for a few weeks a year. If you are no longer a resident of the county, they may ask you to provide proof.

When I received a jury duty summons, I contacted the phone number and explained that I operated a business and could not afford to pay my employees if I wasn’t there generating income. I was asked what I did when I was sick. I told her I worked when ill, and luckily had never been sick enough to not show up.

I was excused. A few years later I was excused again for the same reason. That said, I’d love to serve on a jury.

I am not in NY.

I served on a jury once. Various people tried various excuses to get out of serving. One woman claimed to have poor English skills (but another woman who did serve on the jury noted that the woman’s English seemed perfectly fine when my fellow juror talked to her in the ladies’ room). Others said that they wouldn’t be paid by their employer while serving (and in these cases, the judge noted the employers’ names, perhaps to verify that later or perhaps to suggest that those employers should pay for jury duty). One woman said she couldn’t serve because she spent her days taking care of her grandchildren but the judge said the children’s care was the responsibility of her son and he’d have to make other arrangements, so that she was not excused.

Whoa! In my part of California it is a year. You do get one postponement for free. When I was on a jury the judge told us that we were pretty much guaranteed to get called all the time, since we showed that we were responsible. Looks like he was right.
After my last postponement I was on a Zoom jury selection process. I didn’t get picked, but I got a call six months later. I was able to send in my jury number and the date, and I was excused. It looks like they lost my service.

I just went to jury selection last week here in Canada.

150 people we called to fill two 12-person juries. 44 did not show up. We were told that they would all be called for the next jury selection, and if they didn’t show up again it was a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Anyway, the rest of us were called up six at a time, and at that point you were allowed to say if you needed an exemption. Lots of people asked for one. Some of the reasons:

  • Lots of people (maybe 10-15) said they had work commitments they couldn’t tet out of. After explaining them to the judge privately, they were allowed to leave.
  • One person was excused because she was going on vacation and had already purchased airline tickets.
  • Several people were excused because the trials were sexual assault cases and they said it would be too traumatic to sit in the jury.
  • Several people were excused because of ‘potential bias’ after a private talk woth the presiding judge. I assume they were sexual assault victims in the past.
  • One person was excused for potential bias because she said she didn’t trust a male judge to preside fairly over a sexual assult case. That one surprised me,

In the end, we went through about 75 people to find 24 jury members. I was not one of the ones picked.

In college, I received a jury summons at my dorm address while I was out on Christmas break. The deadline passed and I received a nastygram with a small fine at the same address.

On finally discovering this, I went to the courthouse and told them the situation. They could not reschedule me at the time but gave me a goldenrod form indicating that I indeed showed up on a certain date.

Some time passes and I get another letter indicating that I’m subject to a multi-thousand dollar fine and that I’d better explain myself to a judge.

I show up, goldenrod form in hand. When it’s my turn, I explain what I did, hand the form to the bailiff, and the judge barely glances at the color of the form before declaring that he will reverse the fines and that I am off the hook. Never got another summons at that address.

The moral is, don’t ignore this stuff. But if you make a best effort to explain yourself and demonstrate that you made a reasonable effort to contact them, they’re likely to be lenient.

Whatever you do, keep a record of it. Email is good in that it allows you to prove that you did in fact contact them about your situation. Calling a general office number, and speaking to a random person, does not guarantee that when it comes down to it much later, they will have a record of you trying to resolve the situation in a timely manner. Keep records of any resolution. Do not rely on faceless bureaucracy to remember you were excused. If you talk to someone, get their name. (Also have proof of your remote residence, I suppose). it would suck if they brought up your case a year or two from now when you are back in NYC and decided you were at fault.

I’ve been called for jury duty once. The day I was supposed to be there was right before everything started shutting down for covid; I completely forgot about it until a few weeks later, and haven’t heard anything about it since.

I’m surprised by this. The Supreme Court has held that the reason for a judge to excuse a potential juror is part of the trial and must be public; failing to do so means a mistrial.

This is going to be entirely up to the jurisdiction in question; every US state (and even cities and counties within a state) may treat it differently.

Given your current situation, I’d advise that you call the phone number, or send an email to the email address, on the jury summons, and talk to the court officers there. Explain to them that, while you maintain an address in New York, you have been out of the country for an extended period of time, and do not, at this time, have a firm schedule for when you’re returning to the U.S., and to New York. As others have noted, if you try to work with them to find a mutually-agreeable time for your jury duty, they are likely to be amenable (as opposed to the people who try to blow it off).

The judge would just saying “Juror 6 is excused for a potential issue of bias”. "Or, “Juror 3 has a work commitment, and after describing the issue to me, I am granting an exception.” We in the udience weren’t given setails, but maybe it was recorded during the discussion or something.

Here in Canada, I’ve only been told I have a jury summons, once, maybe 20 years ago; and my wife had a similar notice about 10 years ago. In both cases, it was particularly annoying because there was no definite date for the court case, just a warning it could be several weeks at some indefinite time in the future; and in both cases, after disrupting any travel planning for one or two months, then the entire thing was cancelled a few weeks before the summons date. A lawyer friend mentioned they thought it was the defense playing chicken with the prosecution or vice versa - “unless you offer us a better deal, we’ll take it to trial and take our chances.”