This week's 'Ask Evan' question comes from Lorie T. She asks, "I was called for jury duty. I don't want to do it. Don't I have any rights? Besides that, my employer wrote a letter that I couldn't be excused from work but they still say I have to show up. Where are my rights?"
Lorie you have rights, but refusing jury duty isn't one of them. In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers".
Pennsylvania state law establishes that "every citizen of this commonwealth who is of the required minimum age for voting for state or local officials and who resides in the county shall be qualified to serve as a juror therein".
Pennsylvania has a list of specific excuses that can be used to be exempt from reporting for jury duty. They include excuses for elected officials, students, age, police, medical workers, firefighters and disabilities. You can also be excused if you don't meet the basic eligibility requirements for jury duty in PA.
In Pennsylvania, your employer is not allowed to penalize you for missing work for jury duty. Therefore, simply having a job isn't in itself enough to be excused from jury duty. However, some courts may excuse you if serving on a jury and missing work would cause undue hardship to either yourself or your employer.
Under Pennsylvania law, anybody who fails to appear when summoned for jury duty without being excused may be held in contempt of court and could be fined up to $500.00, imprisoned for a term no more than ten days, or both.
By the way-- potential jurors may be selected no more than once every three years, or one year if service was for less than three days.
If you have question you'd like to ask send me an email to AskEvan@FOX43.com. Put 'Ask Evan' in the subject line or reach out to me on Facebook at Evan Forrester FOX43. Whatever the topic I'll do my best to track down answers you are looking for.