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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in Colorado?

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Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in Colorado?

Criminal defendants have a Constitutional right to a trial by jury. Parties in civil matters, such as contract or personal injury cases, also have the right to seek a jury trial under Colorado’s Rules of Civil Procedure. Colorado’s court system must draw on a huge pool of potential jurors in order to handle all of these cases.

Every U.S. citizen residing in Colorado more than 50% of the time can be summoned for jury service. The state provides only limited grounds for excusing jurors from appearing, so you have fairly high odds that you will at least need to appear at some time for jury selection. But whether you will serve on a jury will depend on many factors. 

If you’re wondering how to get out of jury duty, here’s what you need to know.

Automatic Disqualification From Jury Service

Jurors can seek automatic disqualification from jury service for a limited set of reasons. This type of disqualification will happen without appearing. 

Automatic disqualifications include:

  • Not a Colorado resident
  • Not a U.S. citizen
  • Not 18 or older
  • Inability to speak, read, and understand English
  • A mental or physical disability that prevents jury service
  • Sole caretaker for someone permanently disabled
  • Prior service as a juror in the preceding year
  • Ongoing service as a grand juror

If you want to know how to avoid jury duty and meet any of these automatic disqualifications, you must contact the court before the date on the jury summons. The jury commissioner’s clerk may require you to email or fax documentation to the court to qualify for the exemption.

For example, if you claim you have a mental or physical disability, you will need a letter from a medical practitioner. Under Colorado law, you will also need to call the jury commissioner and discuss whether they can accommodate your disability so you can still serve. 

Therefore, a temporary eye injury may only qualify you for a deferment, while blindness might excuse you permanently.

Temporary Deferments

Colorado also allows you to temporarily avoid jury duty for certain conditions. 

The three grounds for temporarily getting out of jury duty include:

  • Undue or extreme physical hardship
  • Undue or extreme physical hardship for someone under your care
  • Breast-feeding mothers who choose not to leave their child

These excuses will require a medical statement. You will submit the medical statement before the jury summons date so that your excuse can be granted before you appear for jury service.

Once the condition expires, you become eligible for jury duty again. Thus, suppose that you recently injured your back in a car accident and cannot sit up. The court can excuse you until your back heals, then put you back on the list of eligible jurors.

You can also defer your jury service without providing an excuse. College students attending school outside of Colorado can defer their service for up to one year. Everyone else can defer for up to six months.

Disqualification During Voir Dire

If none of these excuses apply to your situation, you must appear for jury service. Many prospective jurors spend a few hours in the courthouse, then get sent home as cases scheduled for trial reach a settlement.

Those who get selected to a jury venire will go to the courtroom for questioning by the judge and attorneys for the parties. This process, called voir dire, can result in your disqualification from service.

The main reason for dismissal during voir dire is an inability to act as an impartial juror. This might happen because you have a relationship with any of the parties or lawyers. It can also happen if your past experiences have biased you in identifiable ways.

Serving On a Colorado Jury

Juries play an essential role. They often balance the power of the government or large corporations against individuals. If you are summoned for jury duty and you do not meet any of the requirements for automatic disqualification or temporary deferment, you must appear in accordance with the summons.

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