On Avoiding Jury Duty: This Mother’s Plan

There are some great things about the Chicago, Illinois area. I mean, not the gray skies—those didn’t work very well at all for me. Nor the fact that the slightest breeze sent me running for the safety of the basement, apologetically unashamedly trampling all living things in my path.

But what was really great about living in that area? The fact that the system recognizes the mother’s role as sacred.

The first time I received a jury summons as a Illinois resident, it had a box one could check if she were the primary caregiver for her child, this fact alone excused you—pretty much for the next 18 years—from jury duty.

Now, you know I’m not a fan of the term “stay-at-home mom” because it implies that we do nothing all day. And the word “homemaker?” I’d sooner pull the trigger myself before I checked that box.

But it was really lovely that those in charge of the state recognized that the world would be far better served if I were at home raising my kids in such a way that might keep them out of juvy than deciding whether or not a guy going 165 miles over the speed limit should be fined.

‘Tis not the case in Arizona.

The jury summons arrived last week, and while I could note that I had a reason (beyond physical or mental incapacitation) to be excused (though frankly, I think mental incapacitation is a perfectly valid excuse in my case), nothing other than status as a volunteer firefighter or military member would automatically excuse me.

So, I’ve come up with my Top 10 Reasons I Should Be Excused from Jury Duty (which I plan to strategically mention during my interview).

*Note: These are not necessarily true. Nor are they necessarily false. Nor will I reveal which are true and which are false.

10. I’ve been trying for 2 days to get past Level 3-5 on Angry Birds. Surely, it’s a crime to interrupt that.

9. I live with a kid who insists she’s Dora. She won’t part with The Map or the computer on which the Dora game resides, and so I don’t know how to get to the courthouse.

8. I don’t know how to go anywhere without kids, and I don’t think I’m permitted to bring them with me.

7. On second thought, can I bring them with me? Because then you’d surely excuse me within moments of my arrival.

6. One of the 9-year-olds made a paper airplane out of the summons. Its instructions are illegible.

5. I’m prone to panic attacks in crowded spaces—especially if there are not wall-mounted automatic hand sanitizer dispensers every 6 feet (you know, kind of like outlets).

4. I don’t speak English. I mean, I do, but I spell everything and talk in code a lot.

3. My answer to everything is, “No.” Just ask my kids.

2. My hourly rate for this sort of thing is pretty high. Unreasonable, almost.

1. I’m still breastfeeding my 6-year-old

I think any one of these is perfectly valid. But something still tells me I’m going to spend my week in a cramped room, holding my bottle of Purell and deep breathing while I wait for my number to be called.

Elizabeth Lyons is an author, jewelry artist, and inspirational humorist. You can keep up with her at elizabethlyons.com

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One comment

  1. Great list!

    I would just like to say I live in Arizona and twice have written on the note that I am a primary caregiver to small children and have never been called in. So they will excuse you. They just don’t make it as obvious.

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