On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Not many people enjoy getting that notice in the mail that they have to show up for jury duty. In many cases, it’s a day off work wasted sitting around for hours just to be told you’re not needed. Other times, you are needed and are asked to hear a case in court, and provide a verdict on that case.

But the vast majority of people who show up for jury duty will be dismissed that same day with no further obligation until they’re due for jury duty again in the future. Whether you like it or not, the fact remains that jury duty is our civic duty, and it applies to most Americans.

In Rhode Island, as in many states, there are many things you can do to be legally excused from jury duty. However, failure to appeared when summoned for jury duty or jury selection is illegal. Fines vary by county and can be applied to prospective jurors who fail to appear. The max is $20. May not sound like a lot, but a bench warrant could also be issued for contempt of court, which means that person could face jail time the next time they have an encounter with law enforcement, such as during a parking or speeding citation.
You may decide to skip jury duty out of fear you will get in trouble with your boss for missing work. However, it is illegal for employers in Rhode Island to penalize employees who must miss work due to jury duty. Of course, the employees must provide written confirmation of jury duty to their employer.

Approved Jury Duty Excuses

Here is a list of excuses the court will accept if you cannot report for jury duty or serve as a juror:

  • Military
  • Elected official
  • Police
  • Firefighter
  • Disabled

For all of the above, you will have to provide proof.

Excuses that will NOT be accepted include:

  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • Students
  • Medical workers

Who Can Be Summoned?

A prospective juror must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least eighteen years old
  • A resident of Rhode Island
  • Able to understand and participate in court proceedings
  • Be physically and mentally capable of performing juror duties
  • Not a felon

If appearing for jury duty causes you undue hardship, you have a right to submit a jury duty excuse letter with your summons response. The court will then either accept or deny your excuse.

Contact Sayer, Regan & Thayer LLP

If you skipped jury duty in Rhode Island and need legal advice, please contact us toll free at 866-378-5836 or 401-324-9915 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.