January 5, 2006
EXEMPTIONS FROM JURY DUTY
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked whether key employees of small businesses are exempt from jury duty.
Connecticut law does not exempt key employees of small businesses from jury duty. Even though a person is not exempt from jury service, the law allows the jury administrator or the court to excuse a person for extreme hardship. The law does not define extreme hardship. Kay Barris, the current jury administrator, advised us that in practice it means a situation or condition that prevents a person from serving as a juror for even one day and is not likely to be eliminated within one year from the date of the original juror summons.
In addition, a person who is called for jury duty can delay their service for up to 10 months in order to find a more convenient time.
PEOPLE DISQUALIFIED FROM JURY SERVICE IN CONNECTICUT
Jurors must be at least age 18 and electors or U.S. citizens who are residents with a home in the state. A person is disqualified from jury service if he:
1. has a quality (but not deafness or hearing impairment) that the judge finds impairs his capacity to serve as a juror;
2. had a felony conviction in the past seven years, is a defendant in a pending felony case, or is in the custody of the correction commissioner;
3. cannot speak and understand English;
4. is a constitutional officer;
5. is a family support magistrate or judge of the probate court, Superior Court, Appellate Court, Supreme Court, or federal court;
6. is a member of the General Assembly while in session;
7. is age 70 or older and chooses not to perform jury service; or
8. is incapable of rendering satisfactory jury service due to physical or mental disability (with a letter from a licensed physician stating his opinion) (CGS § 51-217).
The jury administrator or the court may excuse a person for extreme hardship (CGS §§ 51-217(b) 51-217a(b)). The law does not define extreme hardship but Barris advised us that in practice it means a situation or condition that prevents a person from serving as a juror for even one day and is not likely to be eliminated within one year from the date of the original juror summons. She can also cancel juror service if (1) the called juror's town of residence is switched to a different judicial district than the one to which he was originally called or (2) there is a reduced need for jurors. If jury service is canceled for the latter reason, the jury administrator must excuse people on a random basis (CGS § 51-219a).
EXEMPTIONS FOR PREVIOUS JURY SERVICE
People called for jury service must be excused, at their request, if they were called and not excused from service during the preceding three years (CGS § 51-217a).
A person is not credited with service if he was excused or if his service was canceled before he actually came into court. But he is given credit if he was in court and available for service for as little as one day and did not ask to be excused.
When the number of jurors available for service for a jury year is exhausted, a juror may be impaneled if it is at least three months since his previous attendance as a juror. The provisions excusing service within three years and limits on the length of jury service do not apply in these circumstances (CGS § 51-232b).