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Jury Duty

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  • Jury Duty

    Hello,

    I don't know if I 'm posting in the right place, but I wanted to ask the Americans living here (or any foreign country for that matter) if they have ever been called for jury duty while living abroad, and if so, what they did about it.

    I ask because it actually happened to me about a year ago (I've been living in Japan for about three years now.) My family back home said that I had received a notice to serve, so I had them send me the notice here. I wrote a letter to the address on the notice stating that I was currently living in a foreign country, and that it was basically impossible for me to perform jury duty.

    About a month later, I received a reply from the government office I wrote to that said I had to make all claims for not being able to serve IN PERSON, by a date that had passed about two weeks beforehand. They seemed to have missed my point. I was not about to fly back to the US just to stand in line in a government building so they could tell me what a bad person I was for skipping jury duty. I decided to ignore the notice, and ultimately, the problem.

    But it does still bother me from time to time. Is living in a foreign country a legitimate excuse for not performing Jury Duty? Are there forms I have to fill out that I'm not aware of? When or if I ever decide to go back to America and deal with this problem, are they going to slap some ridiculous fine on me? I know that many Americans consider jury duty to be a joke, but having never done it before, I find it hard to take that at face value.

    Any kind of input, be it information, horror stories, or how I'm such a paranoid freak for worrying about something as trivial as jury duty, would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    York D.

  • #2
    Re: Jury Duty

    Hi. You can only be summoned to jury duty if you are a resident of the county in which you are summoned. The roll of prospective jurors is usually made from voter registration records and motor vehicle registration records, and mistakes are often made. If you had simply moved across the state, or across the country, you would be *ineligible* to serve via the summons received at your parents home. Being a resident of Japan, you are legally "unqualified" to serve.

    I would suggest contacting the US consulate nearest you, or the county in question, by telephone. A jury duty summons sent to a former address will not be forwarded, but rather returned to the county, which would then update its records. In retrospect, your parents should have returned the summons unopened, with "no longer at this address" or some such statement written on the envelope. The irony is, if you had wanted to serve on a jury, and tried to convince the authorities that you should be eligible while your residence is no longer in that county, they would tell you it's impossible, of course!

    Cheers,
    Hiyodori

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    • #3
      Re: Jury Duty

      Thank you for the information, Hiyodori.

      Now I can sleep a little easier at night knowing I won't get jumped at the airport and be forced to serve in some high-profile local celebrity murder trial. It sometimes disturbs me how little I know about my own country, and I'm no pup, either.

      Anyway, thanks again.

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      • #4
        Re: Jury Duty

        You're welcome. You might want to check the official information found on the Internet for the county you used to live in. Here is an example, from Mendocino County, California:

        http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/courts/juryduty.html

        It also has a section stating that the prospective juror must be a resident of the county, and a section outlining penalties for failing to appear. Don't forget that you were to be "summoned" for jury duty. A summons is an official legal document/procedure, and can only be served on you in person, or by registered mail. Enjoy your sleep!

        Cheers,
        Hiyodori

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