Issues Library—State & Local
What is Jury Duty?
With roots in courts from those of Ancient Greece to those of Norman England, trial by a jury of one’s peers is considered to essential to fact finding and fairness in many court procedures. The “right” to trial by jury is enshrined in both Article III and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Serving as a juror is a civic duty in which HSLDA encourages homeschooling parents to participate when possible.
Can I Get Exemptions from Jury Duty as a Homeschool Teacher?
Sometimes an instructor would like to be excused from serving as a juror when it would be a significant disruption to the home education program.
Each state has several options for exemption from jury duty. HSLDA maintains a summary of each state’s jury duty requirements. In situations that do not fall under the automatic exemptions listed in state law, it is left to the discretion of a judge or judge’s designee to decide if jury service would be a hardship great enough to merit excusing a person or deferring jury service to a later date.
Many states offer exemptions that are not listed in the summaries, such as a person being physically or mentally incapacitated, elderly, or unable to understand the English language. Several states also grant exemptions based on one’s occupation, such as if he or she is a practicing physician, on active duty with the United States armed forces, or a member of a state legislature. It is important to check your state’s specific requirements before claiming one of these exemptions.
A majority of state laws do not have a specific exemption from jury duty for being a primary instructor in a home education program. However, if a homeschooling parent thinks jury duty would be a significant hardship to the home education program, then he or she can request the judge grant an excuse from the jury summons or to have the summons deferred. The parent should mention any relevant circumstances in this request, such as that he or she is the only teacher in the home education program, that he or she must provide a certain number of hours of instruction, that serving on a jury would be disruptive to the children's education, or that there is no substitute available to be with the children for the period of jury selection or jury service.
If the court does not grant an exemption, summoned citizens must appear for jury service.