Skip to main content

Huge Tools of the Week: Getting out of Jury Duty

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Here is the latest installment of the new DealBreaker feature, Huge Tools of the Week. The feature is designed to provide the financial community with additional resources, from fledging online utilities to the name of a good 24-hour rub 'n tug establishment (Starbucks does close, after all). You can see past huge tools here. Send any toolkit to: tips at dealbreaker dot com.
A partner at my old PE firm used to say, "Smart people don't get put on a jury." After seeing several of his associates get picked off for the 3-day minimum obligation in the span of a couple months, he was a bit miffed. Serving on a jury is no picnic as a finance drone. It basically means starting your workday when you leave the courthouse. We've known more than a few I-bankers who've had the worst weeks of their lives while on jury duty. It turns out senior associates and VPs lack a real shared sense of civic responsibility.
I had my strategy all set - self incrimination. If I got called to voir dire, I would just start sputtering off nonsense about how I hated Homo sapiens, especially those of the defendant’s persuasion (kind of like the Curbed episode). Fortunately, it was a slow day in court, and I only got called to be a prospective juror once, and even then did not get interviewed to sit on the jury. Most of the people in my prospective juror “class” (Wednesday), got released early after 2 days (although I may or may not have pretended this did not happen, and spent Friday in a bar watching World Cup games…the HR people are as blind as justice sometimes).
It turns out the self-incrimination strategy may not be as foolproof as cynical members of society may have thought. A Cape Cod man trying to get out of jury duty by acting like a racist homophobe this morning was taken into custody for a couple hours and may face criminal charges (wow, I wouldn’t want to serve on that jury).
What’s fantastic is a transcript of the conversation between the man, Daniel Ellis and Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson, from CNN:
GN: You say on your form that you're not a fan of homosexuals?
DE: That I'm a racist. I'm frequently found to be a liar, too. I can't really help it.
GN: I'm sorry?
DE: I said I'm frequently found to be a liar.
GN: So, are you lying to me now?
DE: Well, I don't know. I might be.
GN: I have the distinct impression that you're intentionally trying to avoid jury service.
DE: That's true.
Also notable is CNN’s amazing box-summary of “Story Highlights”:
-Daniel Ellis really, really doesn't to want to serve as a juror
-He tries to get out of it, saying he is homophobic and a racist
-He also says he's a liar
-Judge is appalled, refers case to prosecutors
We'd never advise you to get out of jury duty. It's your civic duty, and all that. Also, we're vaguely afraid that it might be illegal to give that kind of advice. But, if you are going to try to talk your way out of the jury pool, our advice is to do it subtly. During voir dire, don't follow the path of obvious idiocy. Be a subtle racist homophone. Start telling rambling stories, like how in the latest Transformers flick, you enjoyed the fact that Michael Bay killed off Negrotron, the only black Autobot (unfortunately this is true…I still weep over the execution of that film), or that you think all Mexicans are [insert what defendant is charged with here] serial jaywalkers. We understand your hesitancy to serve on the jury. Who wants that 15 hour day to become a 19 hour day?
Jury duty excuse: I'm a racist, homophobic liar [CNN]