There is no South Carolina law that mandates private employers must pay employees who are absent due to jury duty. For this reason, it's not uncommon that many potential jurors attempt to be excused from jury duty. While serving on a jury is an important task in the state's judicial system, it can be an inconvenience. Beyond employment, our families, emergencies, and travel keep us busy. If you're wondering, “How can I get out of jury duty?”, this guide may help you consider your options.
How Are Jurors Selected?
South Carolina uses Voter Registration lists compiled by the South Carolina Election Commission to create a pool of potential jurors. Potential jurors will receive a notification of jury duty. Individuals are notified by mail through an official summons to appear for a court term. The summons mailing will contain a map to the courthouse, information about parking, accommodations if an overnight stay is needed, and the process to request a hardship excuse. In most cases, the packet will also include a questionnaire, which must be filled out and returned within three days.
If you receive a summons by the South Carolina circuit court but feel you shouldn't or can't serve as a juror, review the common exemptions to jury duty to see if you fall under one of the disqualifications created by legislature.
Disqualifiers For South Carolina Jury Duty:
- Persons over 70 years of age.
- Persons who have served as a grand or petit juror in Federal Court within the past two years.
- Persons having active care and custody of a child or children under 10 years of age whose health and/or safety would be jeopardized by their absence for jury service; or a person who is essential to the care of aged or infirm persons.
- Any person whose services are so essential to the operation of a business, commercial, or agricultural enterprise that the enterprise must close if such person were required to perform jury service.
- Volunteer safety personnel. (Personnel who serve without compensation as fire fighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew for a “public agency.”)
- You are an employee, officer, or guard at a state penitentiary
- In the past 3 years, you've served on a circuit court jury. In the past 4 years, you've served on a state grand jury. (You may still be mandated to serve on a federal, magistrate, or municipal jury)
- You are a student or school staff member (You are not excised entirely. The court will transfer your term to a summer session or another time that doesn't conflict with your school)
If you don't meet any of these requirements for exemption, it's important to note you can't simply skip jury duty. You must request a judge excuse you from the term. In most cases, petitions to be excused aren't granted, but the judge will move you to a different term to fulfill your civic duties. When submitting your request to be excused, you should note if you are a notary public, are behind on child support payments, or have been convicted of a crime in municipal court or have pending felony charges. These circumstances may disqualify you from bring on a jury in some situations.