Seniors can cite their age for jury duty exemptions
I used to receive notices of jury service from time to time, but now I haven't heard from them for years; and I'm wondering, do they stop using you after a certain age? Not having to serve is OK, but does that also mean that there are no seniors in the jury pool? Some folks get a little ga-ga, and I suppose it might be reasonable not to require much proof if a family member shows up and says, "Auntie is a little slow these days; could she be excused?" But I think that mandatory exclusion of seniors puts them at a disadvantage in a trial and is, or could be, unconstitutional.
Answer: Being elderly does not exclude you from serving on a jury.
However, you can ask to be excused from federal jury duty if you are 70 or older, and, as of last year, you can be excused from serving on a state jury if you are 80 or older.
But unless you claim the age exemption, there is no age limit to serving on any jury.
The state Judiciary will be sending out jury questionnaires for 2008, and those who would like to claim the age exemption can do so when filling out the form, said Freida Baker, jury clerk supervisor.
Even if someone does not claim the age exemption at that point, they can claim it if they are summoned to jury duty, she said.
People also are exempt from serving on a state jury if they are a practicing physician or dentist; a federal, state or county judge; an elected official being asked to serve during the legislative session; an active police officer or firefighter; an active-duty military member deployed out of state; an active member of an emergency medical service agency; live more than 70 miles from the court; or if they served as a state or federal juror within the past year.
The 70-mile exemption basically applies only to Big Island residents, Baker explained (such as someone in Kona being asked to serve on a jury in Hilo). Attorneys and priests no longer can claim an exemption, she said, but dentists, who were temporarily removed from the exemption list, were put back on last year.
If a person has any other reason for not wanting to serve on a state jury, it would have to be approved by a judge.
Meanwhile, the age at which you can claim an exemption remains at 70 for federal court, said U.S. District Court jury clerk Cynthia Aranador.
As with the state, you would have to request the exemption -- it is not given automatically.
You also can request exemption from federal jury duty if you served on a federal or state jury within the past two years or if you are a volunteer firefighter or volunteer member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew for federal, state or local government.
Being a practicing physician or dentist no longer exempts a person from serving on a federal court jury, Aranador said.
People are asked to submit a letter to the federal court clerk to claim an exemption.
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