Although most people do not like the role of a jury, they do understand the importance of participating in civic responsibility. But sometimes you cannot serve as a juror at all because of personal difficulties or physical or mental limitations that make it difficult (if not impossible) to perform juror services.
If you have bipolar disorder, you might think that it automatically excludes you from the jury. In some cases, you may be right, especially if you have a disability and cannot work. But is this always the case?
The simple answer is perhapsThe laws governing the duties of juries vary from state to state, from county to county, and even from region to region. Therefore, if you are suddenly faced with a jury subpoena and feel unserviceable, you will need to determine the local law that applies to you and make further inquiries if the rules are not clear.
State law on jury duty and mental illness
When defining mental illness in the context of the role of jurors, the law may be notoriously ambiguous. An informal snapshot of current state and local laws shows the diversity of exemption procedures:
- In Massachusetts, if your doctor confirms in writing that your mental illness prevents you from serving as a juror, you can apply for a waiver.
- In California, the same guidelines apply to everyone under the age of 70. People 70 years and older do not need a doctor’s certificate.
- In Hawaii, a medical certificate must be submitted as proof of mental illness.Even so, there is no guarantee that your request will be approved.
- In some parts of North Carolina, you must submit a statement signed by a licensed doctor on official letterhead explaining the diagnosis, the prediction of the expected duration of the mental condition, and the explanation of the jury duty that you cannot perform.
- In Delaware, you only need to fill out a questionnaire and provide evidence of “excessive difficulty, extreme inconvenience, or public need” to be exempt.
- In Wisconsin, the court may or may not request documents about your condition based on your circumstances.
How to be forgiven
If you feel unsuitable to serve as a juror, you can do the following things:
- If you are completely willing to apply for an exemption based on your mental illness, please consult your doctor to see if they can organize most of the documents for you. These requests are not uncommon in medical practice, and office staff may have experience in how to speed up the process more effectively.
- If the doctor is unable or unwilling to help, please call the helpline listed on the subpoena to inform them of your condition and seek their opinions on the fastest and easiest way to obtain a waiver. If they understand your pain, they will usually work harder to help.
- If you have important medical appointments (such as treatment, doctor visits, or regular support group meetings), you can usually be exempted because the duty of jury will interfere with these appointments and cause “great inconvenience” to your ongoing care.
- If you cannot be forgiven before serving as a juror, please ask to speak with the judge upon arrival. If you speak as a person and not as a prospective juror, you can explain your health (including the medications you take) and simply tell the judge that you cannot concentrate. This is usually sufficient to obtain a disclaimer.
- Or, if you are now in a difficult time and want service, you can request a date change. These are almost always granted.
No matter which approach you choose, do not lie or provide false evidence. Doing so may result in charges of perjury and huge fines. Be honest and turn to your support system to get fair and reasonable court service immunity. step by step.