What really happens if you skip jury duty?
July 31, 2009 11:30 AM   Subscribe

What really happens if you skip jury duty?

I got a summons for jury duty, Chicago Illinois, for Aug 6th. I'm not going because we are being audited that week. I don't have any problem going to jury duty. I've done it before, but because of the audit, I can't go this time. I was just going to ignore it, but this is my second notice. I got the first one in May. But it was standby and I forgot to call to see if I was supposed to go. So, I don't know if it was a skip or not. Should I call someone to tell them I'm can't come? Will they let me off for an audit? The Cook County website says they fine you for not showing up. Is that true? Is it likely?

Also, is there anyway I can get switched to the Daley Center from 26th and California?
posted by nooneyouknow to Law & Government (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should I call someone to tell them I'm can't come?

Definitely. It can't hurt.

When you say audit do you mean a tax audit by the IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue?
posted by jedicus at 11:39 AM on July 31, 2009

(312) 603-JURY. Tell them you would like to delay your summons. They will accommodate you.

Yes, they will fine you.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2009

Call whatever number is listed on the summons and ask the staff at that office. I got a summons after I'd moved out of state and had to call in to find out what documentation they needed. The woman I spoke with was very helpful and never asked for my specific information (in case you're concerned about identifying yourself).
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2009

They can fine you. They can issue a bench warrant. They can do nothing.

But getting pulled over for a moving violation and then instead of getting a ticket, you get arrested on the bench warrant, doesn't sound like a thing I'd want to risk. Call the court and talk to them about your options.
posted by rtha at 11:45 AM on July 31, 2009

I've pulled jury duty 3 times, 3 different places. Every one would allow you to postpone at least once - generally twice - for up to 60 days each time, i think. One court actually sends a sheriff to pick you up if you don't show up. Call. They're pretty understanding if you do, and not at all if you don't.
posted by clarkstonian at 11:49 AM on July 31, 2009

It depends on the state, but in my experience, they will grant one postponement no questions asked. However if you've already skipped, this may not apply to you.

YMMV, but when I showed up to my postponed date with a doctor's note stating that I had a throat infection and conjunctivitis, they still wouldn't dismiss me. They have really closed all the loopholes. So much so that they would rather let you sit around with a highly contagious infection in an enclosed room full of people.

I had to wait there for at least 6 hours or so until a fellow member of the pool asked a guard to get a medic because apparently I wasn't looking so great (I was feverish, in pain, and crying from all of it at that moment) and afterward, they finally dismissed me.

I don't think you'll get off for an audit. Reschedule the audit.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2009

I'm not sure what you mean by "audit" (are you an accountant and referring to the company you work for, or is it a personal IRS audit, or what), but definitely write a paper letter and send it via certified snail mail to the attention of the court clerk at the address listed on your jury summons. Explain in the letter about the audit and why you are physically unable to report for jury duty on the appointed date. Mail that letter today or tomorrow, but when you call the 603-JURY number, tell them that it's already in the mail. Then explain your situation to the person on the phone. It's important to start a paper trail, though, because otherwise you're at the mercy of the Person on the Phone, and they do make mistakes. Messages get lost, voicemails get accidentally deleted, etc. A bench warrant will eventually be issued if you simply don't show up for jury duty.

I've been summoned for jury duty several times (served twice), and in recent years have been unable to serve due to health reasons. Even after calling the phone number listed on the summons, I was instructed to send a letter (not email) to the court clerk with reasons for requesting to be excused. I had to provide (in the letter) my doctor's name and contact information.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2009

In my experience, they'll (very likely) totally postpone it for you. They might give you some hassle, but they'd rather have you show up later than to shirk it off entirely. There might be a special form you have to fill out. They get phone calls all the time with excuses about how people can't do it, so a phone call for a postponement is usually kind of a relief.

I don't know if they'll let you switch courthouses, though; that's based on your current home address.

But this is in SoCal, so ymmv.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2009

The other Cook County jury admin contact information is: fax: (312) 603-5460 and Juryadm@cookcountygov.com. They start answering the phones at 8:30 and leave by 4:30. Don't call from 11:00-2:00 cause all the experienced folks will be on lunch.

Cook also accommodates location change requests.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:20 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

To answer your question about what happens if you skip jury duty, no-show policies really, really depend on the policies of that particular court. When I researched this issue years ago I found that it's normal for up to 50% of people to not respond. Most courts don't do anything and treat them as a sort of "cost of doing business" and simply track the statistics to make sure they don't get excessive. But there are local crackdowns. I read one instance in Indiana where they arrested no-shows -- but only for summons that were delivered by certified mail. Clearly there is great potential for unsigned summons to get legitimately lost, especially if a child or drunk spouse is checking the mailbox.

In rural Texas several years ago I missed a summons since the property was left unattended for awhile and no one was checking the mailbox, and nothing ever happened, so that's about all I can add from my own experience.

To me, I can't imagine ANY court will interfere with your audit. Most likely they'll just postpone it.
posted by crapmatic at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2009

Thanks, everbody. FYI, re: the audit, I work in the insurance industry and my dept is being audited by our external auditor to see if we're in compliance with Sarbannes-Oxley. But this is a really small dept and I am the only one who does what we're being audited on. So, I need to be there to talk to the auditors.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2009

Hmmm... you know, I became a US citizen last year after living here for 20 years and I've never gotten a jury duty thing. Should I be concerned or happy?
posted by exhilaration at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2009

exhilaration, you wouldn't have been eligible until you became a citizen, so no reason to worry. But I'd expect to get one eventually now that it's part of your "duties".

Here in New York, if you ignore the notices, they'll eventually subpoena you and threaten you with fines...that happened to, uh, a friend (yeah, yeah, a friend, that's the ticket).
posted by JaredSeth at 2:47 PM on July 31, 2009

Ignored jury duty for YEARS in both NY and.... another state;) Nothing ever happened to me. Was pulled over for traffic stuff once or twice, no bench warrant.

I'm sure they randomly follow-up on people. Perhaps the trick is that I've never acknowledged a summons, therefore, I'm not on the radar??

Bonus Points: I've served in local government for many years, volunteered for various causes, volunteered to work in my local precincts on election days, and been an activist from time to time. So I do my civic duty, just don't do the trial thing.

In other words, I don't live in fear of the courts for dodging jury duty, FWIW and YMMV.
posted by jbenben at 4:15 PM on July 31, 2009

Hmmm... you know, I became a US citizen last year after living here for 20 years and I've never gotten a jury duty thing. Should I be concerned or happy?

I've been a US citizen since birth. I'm 31 now, and have never been called.
posted by dmd at 7:16 PM on July 31, 2009

Incidentally, "I'm really busy at work with this audit" is not really a valid excuse. Lots of people are real busy at work. Some people lose a week's pay when they get selected for a trial. Thems the breaks.
posted by meta_eli at 9:57 PM on July 31, 2009

Call. In my jurisdiction, they make it super easy to postpone even multiple times, but they get cranky if you don't call and don't show.
posted by gudrun at 2:10 AM on August 1, 2009

dmd, are you registered to vote? I joined the jury pool when I registered to vote. I think getting a driver's license also puts you in the pool, but I'm not certain, as I don't have one.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2009

Registered to vote, registered democrat, have had a drivers license since 1996.
posted by dmd at 12:14 PM on August 1, 2009

For the record, I called and you just use the automated menu to ask for a 3 month extension and you're good to go. I'm glad I asked because I was totally going to skip it. Now I'm not a jury duty scofflaw. :)

meta_eli: I know it's not a valid excuse. But it's why I wasn't going to go. If I thought I had a valid reason to skip, I would've called the county office and asked to be excused.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:54 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm glad you called.

I had a co-worker in Southern California who always threw away her jury summons. She never had anything happen to her. I was horrified when she told me she was doing this. It came up when I was called for duty. I was called twice and found it interesting and fun.
posted by deborah at 1:16 PM on August 4, 2009

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