Jury Summons While Away at College

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Jury summons the month before he leaves for college

June 2011

Hi, my son just graduated from Berkeley High School and he just got summoned for Jury Duty. He will be heading up to Humboldt State in August and the summons is for mid July and he's working for the summer. How have kids/parents handled this? You can ask for an extension for 6 months but he will be in school by then, and it's been impossible to find a person to talk to. Love to hear advice/experiences. Mollie

Can there be a better way to inform a new graduate that he (or she) is now a part of society with the rights and responsibilities that go along with it? One of these responsibilities is Jury Duty. Chances are, he'll be dismissed, but if he's allowed to avoid it I would think you're sending the wrong message. Trial by a jury of your peers is part of what makes America great. When my son graduated from Berkeley High, he got a similar notice. A trip to the court resulted in his begin dismissed, but a valuable lesson in what he now owes to society was learned. Malcolm

There is no out on jury duty because it is inconvenient - this is part of being an adult which he now is (presumably registered for selective service, to vote, etc.). The best thing to do is try to complete the service in July, call in and maybe not even have to show - if he gets paneled he can always say he is going off to school and probably be excused. But as a citizen of this country and a resident of the state he has an adult responsibility to participate in the civic life of our country. do your duty

Ah, jury duty! First, if the jury duty is in Oakland and the employer will pay them for attending (and a lot of employers do), consider encouraging them do it. Odds are that even if they are called up, which is less likely during vacation months, that they will not be seated on a jury, particularly if they say they are off to school the following month.

Second route is to defer... and then have them re-register to vote in Humboldt some time during the next six months. They can always defer and re-register in Berkeley if they subsequently get called up at Humboldt... but that hasn't happened to either of my girls yet. College Mom

Same thing happened w/ our son. I wrote a letter and attached it to the form they send (if you need to postpone). I wrote that my son would be away all summer at his summer job and would be leaving for an out of state college in the fall and would be unavailable indefinitely. I never heard from them, but later on I did call to check and was told that he's put on extended postponement. HOpe this helps....it did ease my mind to talk to a real person though. mom of college guys

I used to get concerned too when those jury duty summons came for my away-at-college kids. I just requested the 6-month extension and signed their name ''by'' me (put your initials next to the signature), and when the next one came (a year or so later), asked for another extension for the same reason. Even though the form asks for a date within the next 6 months at which the person summoned will be available, they don't hold you to that - at least that's been my experience. Kathie

I believe you can get a deferral for students attending college, but it may depend on the court. Otherwise, ask for an extension, and put the requested time as the weeks over winter break, assuming he will be home over the break. anon

We had the exact same issue a year ago. You can reschedule for a particular date 6-12 months in advance. We rescheduled for the week between Christmas and New Years. Not surprisingly, when his day came, he wasn't needed. DM

Jury Summons for College Student

May 2009

My 18 year old college student is in Los Angeles for college. He has just received a jury summons from Alameda County, where he registered to vote. When he does come home for the summer or break, he has a full time job and needs the money. I do not see any excuse on the summons that he would qualify for. I called the court at the number on the summons and was put on hold for over an hour and a half until I finally hung up. He does not have the time to serve on a jury. The only postponement allowed is between 6 months to a year from now.What can he do? Hoping for a solution

My daughter had that problem although it was a bit different because she was away at school and didn't receive a summons for the summer when she was home. I called and spoke with the jury duty office (Alameda county). They recommended that she defer to a date that she would be available but to pick one with low likelihood of a jury being needed. So, she picked christmas eve. Her summons arrived, she phoned in, no jury duty and she's off the list for a year. Don't know what she's going to do next time - she'll be out of the country for two years. Ellen


This website provides information: ''May I be excused from jury service? You may request to be excused (limited conditions) by logging on to our E-juror website at https://ejuror.alameda.courts.ca.gov/. If you excuse is not allowed on E-juror you must complete the Jury Service Exemption/Excuse Form portion of your summons, attach your verification and mail it back to us''

So that's pretty clear. Also on the page it states that an employer cannot fire anyone for serving on jury duty. I have been called several times and often there is a phone number to call the night before or even the morning you are called to see if your number has been activated, and you may not be required to show up, though that will count as ''serving''.

If your son does need to go serve in person it is part of everyone's civic duty. I don't think it's convenient for anyone. Only rarely do you actually serve on a jury, so mostly it takes one morning or one day. While you are waiting generally people can read a book or a magazine. The experience is an important lesson for youth in how our legal system works. Sometimes money is not everything.

There are many legal systems in the world that do not have citizen juries. It is a very effective part of our system of ''checks and balances'' that is the cornerstone of our freedoms. Sacrificing some time is generally one of the minor costs of our court protections and possibly it is one of the most important things we are called on to do, attractive or not. Hopeful that this is not as bad as it seems

Your son should ask for a postponement until the period he will actually be in town -- and then report to jury service as directed. Rather than try to get out of it, the chances are pretty low that he will even have to report, and then still low that he will actually serve. He can ''tell it to the judge'' himself in the unlikely case he ends up in the jury box. If it were my child who needed to work so badly and he got chosen, I would pay him out of my own pocket the pay amount of pay he missed by having to serve. -- mom who gets called to serve all the time

My child also recently got a jury summons and is out of the district at college. I Googled this to see what other parents have done with the summons & read quite a few discussions. How different jurisdictions handle this varies very widely. After trying to figure out what to do I just did the simplest thing: I wrote ''Return to Sender; Addressee away at college'' on the envelope and dropped it in the mailbox. For one thing, I don't believe there's a law saying I need to know my adult kid's forwarding address. So the ball's in their court (no pun intended).

If you want to respond to the summons, I'll pass on a bit of advice I heard from a friend who has 2 kids in college - defer it to Xmas week. When he calls up that week to check if he has to come in or not it is fairly likely that the court calendar is remarkably light that week and he won't be needed and his obligation will be fulfilled for one year! :) Keeping it simple