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The last time I was summoned for jury duty it was mid-week in January, and I made a point of telling the lawyers during questioning that I would have to be home before sunset on Friday. They were not concerned (and I was picked for the jury, and they settled the case an hour later so it ended up not mattering). A friend was recently seated on a jury where the trial ran longer than anticipated and they convened court on Saturday. My understanding is that they were told, not asked, about this scheduling. This made me wonder how one ought to handle this as a juror. I would hope that the answer is not "always try to get out of jury duty" because this is an important civic obligation that we should take seriously if we can do it without violating halacha.

So my question is: how do courts handle trials that run into Shabbat where somebody on the jury cares, and what is the right thing to do as a prospective juror?

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I was in a jury pool of a famous criminal trial, for which the defendant was found to be guilty and served time. Prior to the trial, the potential jurors were told that they would be sequestered so that they could be protected and isolated so that no media could influence the jurors. I told the judge that while I could attend the trial, I could not travel. I was dismissed. Parenthetically, a friend of mine told me to look in the mirror every morning to make sure I wouldn't care if my family member might be among the missing, such was the reputation of the defendant. –  Norman Kabak Mar 13 '12 at 21:52
    
@NormanKabak, thanks for sharing that. Where possible I want to sit on juries, not find ways out, so if it's possible to work with the court to resolve the issues I want to do so. I want to sit in part because it's my obligation as a citizen and in large part because if the situation were reversed I would want analytical people like me (and, I suspect, most folks on JL&L :-) ) on the jury. –  Monica Cellio Mar 14 '12 at 3:27
    
"how do courts" Is this on topic? State courts? Federal courts? US courts? –  Double AA Dec 22 '13 at 7:32
    
@DoubleAA the question is how a Jew should deal with the situation; knowing what common practices are (I don't assume every court is the same) is helpful, sort of like asking "how do they make Coke" on a kashrut question -- in both cases the real question is "what do we do about it", but the background seems relevant. –  Monica Cellio Dec 22 '13 at 17:26
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I was in a jury pool on a winter Friday and told the bailiff that I would need to leave early. The judge brought up the issue publicly and said that she would not want me to miss out on such an important privilege because of my religious requirements. She dismissed the entire pool at 3:00. Needless to say, I was highly popular that day.

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If you get a letter telling you that you have been selected for Jury Duty during the winter season when Shabbos starts at 4:00pm is to write a letter to see if you could postpone it either June or July when Shabbos starts at 8:00pm.

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Good general advice. Where I live, you can defer once but must take the second date which could be anywhen, like on yom tov. I'm not sure how to balance the risk of running late Friday against the risk of having to serve on, say, Pesach. –  Monica Cellio Jan 26 at 20:39
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If you get a letter from the mail a month earlier before you have to go to Jury Duty is to write a letter to the Judge or the court Secretary right away as soon you get the letter right away into telling them that if you could select me to go on Jury Duty From Mondays through Thursday and the best thing to do is to sent a written letter from the Rabbi a long with it into telling them that i cannot make it on a Friday because of the shabbos

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I just read this super-inspiring post "Jury Duty: A Piece of Kugel". In short, talk to the judge...

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An excellent link! –  DanBeale Sep 25 '11 at 14:56
    
Thank you. Is there an ethical concern with waiting until the jury is seated (thus forcing the judge's hand) if I know of the problem up front (which this blogger did not)? –  Monica Cellio Sep 25 '11 at 15:43
    
@MonicaCellio Sounds like a separate question to ask. (and one that I don't know the answer to) –  yydl Sep 27 '11 at 22:04
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