U.S. District Court
Western District of Missouri
Requests for Excuse
Requests for excuse based upon employment will not be given consideration if that request is made by the employer. The request must come from the summoned juror. Jury duty is a personal matter, and as such we must know that the request is being made by the employee and not being coerced by the employer.
For our jury system to work, it is essential that the courts and employers form a partnership to ensure that all citizens are available to serve on juries when called. Without cooperation from the business community, our system would come to a halt. This is an outcome a democratic society cannot afford. We would lose a fundamental principle upon which we, private and corporate citizens alike, depend. The importance of your participation cannot be emphasized enough. Cooperation from employers strengthens the jury system.
In order to ensure that the serious need for federal jurors is met, the "Protection of Jurors' Employment Statute" (Title 18, U.S.C. § 1875) was enacted in 1978. The statute demonstrates the attitude of the United States Congress toward assuring adequate representation and the corresponding duty of employers to their employees and to the justice system. The statute states in part, that "no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee's jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States. Any employer who violates the provisions of this section - shall be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by an employee by reason of such violation; shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation as to each employee."
Summoned petit jurors are obligated to remain "on call" for jury service for a period of one month. During that time, they may appear one to three times for jury selection. If selected, the average time a juror sits on a trial is one to three days. In most instances, the burden of jury service is not so overwhelming that it could not be absorbed by business or other establishments with relative ease. Summoned grand jurors will be expected to appear for jury selection only on the one date indicated in their summons. If selected, they will serve on the Grand Jury for a period of 18 months. They will be expected to report for service for approximately one to three days every one to two months.
Financial hardship claimed as an excuse by an individual summoned for jury service is not usually a valid reason for the court to grant release, especially if the individual is working regularly in a permanent position with a salary or set hourly rate. Unless there are some compelling reasons for that excuse, it will not be granted. If your employment policy does not pay employees while they are on jury duty, you are asked to reconsider that policy. As you may know, federal jurors are paid $40.00 per day for their services. We hope paying the difference between your employee's salary would not be overly burdensome.