Self-employed, only wage earner-- exempt from jury duty?

Hi all! (waves)

Okay, so my brother just got a notice that he was called up for jury duty. He CAN’T DO THIS. He’s self-employed and totally responsible for earning money for the household because his wife doesn’t work. Oregon pays $10 a day for people on jury duty!@!!! Even taking a day to go in and explain the problem would be a financial hardship. And obviously, he doesn’t have an employer to pay him a salary while he’d be stuck making that big $10/day. He and his wife are just barely getting by financially as it is. There has to be a way out of this. There just has to be. Yes, I know; I need to join Co-Dependents Anonymous again, but in the meantime, I promised him that I’d do everything I possibly could to research this. Does anyone have any ideas?


I don’t know how it works there but I’ve been selected twice and each time wrote a letter saying that I was a single dad and had the only income and could I please be excused? I never heard anything back so I guess it worked.

Every jury notice I have recieved has a place to explain if you can be on a jury. Mail that back in.

Simple. During voir dire, just tell him to say, “I’m going to give the guilty son-of-a-bitch a fair trial then hang his sorry ass,” and he won’t be going on any jury.

I’ve served on a jury here in Illinois; I didn’t get much more. AFAICT, jury payments really aren’t meant to be a replacement for missed income for days served; they’re just a token payment.

If your brother were working for a company, they’d probably have a policy which allowed for at least a couple of days off for jury duty with pay. As he’s self-employed, he may well be able to plead hardship and be excused.

That said, talking to us is just going to give you (and, him) wild-ass guesses. He really should contact the court in question sooner, rather than later. I’d be willing to bet that there is either a phone number or an e-mail address on his jury summons which he can use to do this before the date of his duty. (Oh, and he absolutely should be courteous and deferential; that can do nothing but help his case.)

Advice regarding legal matters is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Contact the court in question–the county courts where I live are quite willing to reschedule you for a more convenient month of the year, but not so keen on “I can’t do it ever”. Other places may have different rules.

Incidentally, I know someone who is an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. When he was called for Jury Duty, he tried to get out if it on the basis that in order to serve, he’d have to close his office, and several people would not get paid for the day.

In the end, they “compromised” on him taking a week’s vacation, and agreeing to show up every day in case he was needed (normal service in this county is for a month, but you call the night before and are mostly told you aren’t needed).

So I’m not sure that just being self-employed and sole wage earner would get different treatment.

But, you probably don’t live where I do, so things may be different.

In Florida one of the standard reasons you can give for declining Jury duty is “Sole Proprietor.” As a self employed person myself, I’d always check that box on the form and never had to serve.

On-call jury duty for a MONTH? Yikes! In California, state-wide, it’s just for one day (if you don’t actually get on a case). If you do get on a case, it’s for however long that case takes. (Ask the O. J. Simpson jurors!)

ETA: And even for that one day, you call the night before and are usually told you’re unwanted.

Usually you will be given an exemption. Once in New York I was called shortly after an uproar about VIPs not serving on juries, so I was sent in as part of a jury pool, then rejected by the attorneys because of a conflict of interest.

In Massachusetts or Washington, he would be sitting on that jury. No sympathy for sole proprietors - you’re supposed to pay yourself enough that you can afford to miss a week.

That said, maybe he can write a letter explaining that if he foregoes that many days of work, he will have to miss his rent payment. Or at least reschedule it so he can plan around it.

Although I would like to say this as well, I would be careful using this approach. I have heard of judges not seeing the humor in such tactics. Never ever piss a judge off.

Either that or you’ve now got two outstanding warrants for contempt of court.

You can definitely get out of it forever if you’ve got the right excuse. My grandmother understands very little English and her children sent a letter to the court explaining this. That was nearly two decades ago and she’s never been called since.

Read the OP.

This is from the Clackamas County site about jury duty:

The exemptions are recent jury duty, over 70, verified medical condition, breastfeeding or the sole caregiver to a young child and unable to afford day care, or a full time student (who can only defer to non-school time).

I am self-employed, too, and had no trouble getting excused.

In my state, they made a big deal (the 3 times I’ve been called, by the way) that financial hardship is not a valid excuse to be exempt, and your company (presumably even your own) cannot tell you you cannot serve or otherwise dissuade you from your civil duty.

You might be able to get a deferral. Best thing is to look at the documentation he received – there should be instructions for requesting exemption/deferral and what the criteria area.

I agree that the OP’s brother should contact the court instead of us about this. Here is some information from Polk County, Oregon regarding valid excuses. Note the bit in all caps about contacting the court within five days.