Travel Is a Hardship in the Eyes of the Court

don’t take my word as legal gospel — i’m just someone who lucked out! and, this may not apply everywhere. for the record, i’m in Alameda County, California.

i’d wager that most of us don’t enjoy being called for jury duty. the interruption in our daily routine and then having to do jury duty and regular work…unpleasant.

i’ve been pretty lucky, i suppose, in terms of not having to serve on a jury (in my 17 years of eligibility, i’ve served exactly 0 times) but, long story short, today i got called up for a trial and got out of it by claiming a hardship — a two-week trip abroad.


wait, what?! 

yes, this truly is a hardship.

it looks questionable (ok, more than questionable), but it was one of the qualifying reasons the judge laid out when he spoke to us. i’m probably missing some, but here are the biggies that will get you excused:

  • if you will not be paid by your employer AND you are the sole breadwinner AND you’re living paycheck to paycheck. just not being paid is not enough.
  • health reasons, though if you can make it to the courtroom, you probably won’t be excused. think dialysis or just about to have a child — something that would necessitate you having to physically be out of the courthouse.
  • personal vacation — it’s enshrined the law, at least in my county! “vacation is important!” he said! (and yes, it is)

i should note that just “it’s inconvenient” or “but my boss needs me” won’t cut it, he said. anything that would inconvenience a third party (e.g., your boss or work or even needing to watch a kid) is automatically not a valid hardship reason. he said it’s just like if you were in a car accident and have to spend a couple weeks in the hospital. they’d find a way to manage without you. based on this, it sounds like if you have a business trip planned, it might not be enough to get you out — just personal vacation.

and so yes, my planned-in-advance vacation got me out of jury duty. the travel must take place during the planned trial timeline — this one would have stretched out to mid-October (MURRRDERRRRR) and the only person of the 40 or so hardship requesters (out of 80 in the entire pool) who got denied was someone who had a trip planned for early November.

while i’m not advocating that you plan a trip now for two weeks after your upcoming jury duty summons date (indeed that does cross my ethical line, and should yours, IMHO), fear not, you just might not have to cancel your existing plans. be sure to be honest in your request — you are legally affirming you are telling the truth, and these questionnaires become part of the public record.

p.s. some may say traveling with parents is hardship, but that’s not the case with mine; they are great travelers!

6 Comments on "Travel Is a Hardship in the Eyes of the Court"

  1. Have been excused from jury duty due to pre booked travel a couple of times. Even excused from testifying at a trial.

  2. @Travel Dude
    lol they probably lost (or won) the trial because of you.

    did they ask for proof?
    never been summoned, but used my upcoming trip itinerary print-outs to request speeding ticket court date continuances several times..namsayin.

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