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 should a prospective juror handle a trial that might run into Shabbat? What kinds of accommodations might be available?

  • 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. Mar 13, 2012 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. Mar 14, 2012 at 3:27
  • There are two questions that prospective jurors are usually asked and, if answered honestly, would probably get most people off jury duty. 1. Does the fact that the accused was arrested for this crime incline you to believe that he is guilty despite the princile that one is innocent until proven guilty? 2. Would you hold it against the accused if he does not take the stand to tell his side of the story? Jun 22, 2015 at 21:42
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    @MichaelKatz one can get out of jury duty, but it's not clear one should. (In fact, I wonder if halacha would even permit it. I may ask that separately.) My question is more about the case where you want to preserve the option to be on the jury. Jun 22, 2015 at 21:50
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    Allowing you to avoid serving on Shabbos is a religious accommodation. In the State of New York, at least, that isn't optional, they have to accommodate it. But they don't like telling you about it because, you know, it inconveniences them.
    – Yishai
    Jun 22, 2015 at 22:22

4 Answers 4


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.


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

  • An excellent link!
    – DanBeale
    Sep 25, 2011 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)? Sep 25, 2011 at 15:43
  • @MonicaCellio Sounds like a separate question to ask. (and one that I don't know the answer to)
    – yydl
    Sep 27, 2011 at 22:04

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.

  • 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. Jan 26, 2014 at 20:39

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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