Juror Excuses Heard Around the State

By NYSBA Journal

The Future of Jury Trials_675

Over the years, commissioners of jurors have heard members of jury pools express a wide range of “reasons” why they could not serve as jurors.

The following is a compendium of memorable, and frequently creative, explanations the commissioners have heard.

Montgomery County
A woman asked to be excused because her 17-year-old cat had cancer and she had to give him medication every two hours to keep him comfortable. I have two cats and was, therefore, very sympathetic. Needless to say, I did postpone her for six months.

Jefferson County
One lady asked to be excused because she couldn’t afford to pay $40 per day. When we explained that she would receive $40 per day, she was happy to serve.

A man said he couldn’t possibly do jury duty, because he was vital to the day-to-day operations of his company-and besides, he had already paid for a cruise that same week and couldn’t get his money back.

Kings County
I used to be a felon.

One prospective juror came in wearing pajamas and said that she had 13 children and did not have time to get dressed.

Another prospect explained that he had undergone surgery on his hands and now limped as a result.

Warren County
“My dog is in heat and needs me.”

Elderly twin women claimed that they could not be separated-they went everywhere together.

Man asked for a year off because he was stacking wood and burying Mother. I said to him, “If I call you the same time next year, you’ll still be stacking wood won’t you?” “Yes,” he said, “but I shouldn’t be burying Mom.”

Nassau County
A physician came up to our counter in the front of our Central Jury Room and stated that he could not serve as a juror because he did not speak English. I (the Commissioner) said: “Doctor, if you do not speak English, how do you speak to your patients?” He replied in a very heavy accent, “all my patients are of my nationality and we all talk in our native language” I thought for a moment and said, “Doctor, how do you give orders to your medical staff-you know, your nurse and your receptionist?” He replied, again in a very heavy accent: “All my employees are of my nationality and we speak in our native language.” I scratched my head and thought for a moment. I finally said, “Doctor, how do you fill out the insurance forms?” He stared at me for a moment, and without saying a word, turned around and sat down in the auditorium with the rest of the jurors.

Erie County
“I’m 86 years old and deaf as a doornail.” “I never tell the truth.”

A man said he had been convicted of grand larceny for unlawful possession of a canoe. “A canoe?” he was asked. “Yes,” he replied, “a canoe.”

“I can’t get around. Old age is no picnic.”

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