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Exemptions from Jury Service

Formerly it was common for people otherwise qualified to serve on a jury to be exempt based on their occupation. Prior to a recent change in the law, New York had recognized more than a dozen such exemptions to include lawyers, doctors, clergy, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, psychologists, podiatrists, nurses, embalmers, police officers, and firefighters. The reason given for these exemptions were that each of these groups performs functions necessary to the public interest. As of 2002, 26 states have eliminated occupational exemptions while an additional nine have placed strict limitations on them.

Exemptions are also granted for business or financial hardship according to the circumstances of that individual. A judge may grant a business hardship exemption if they are convinced that jury service would result in the business closing permanently. Financial exemptions are also given to employees of private businesses since in most states the employer is not required to pay them for the time spent on a jury. Other exemptions also granted on a case by case basis at the discretion of the judge or court officials include incapacitating physical or mental illnesses, and extreme inconvenience such as having to travel a much greater distance to the courthouse.

Inside Exemptions from Jury Service