Bill would allow students to be excused from jury duty

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Full-time college and high school students in the state of Florida could be excused from jury duty, according to a bill filled Tuesday.

Jury duty is a vital aspect to the U.S. criminal justice system, giving citizens a say in how laws are being sustained. However, being summoned to jury duty can be dreaded by most American citizens because of inconveniences and time conflicts.

Jury duty is mandatory for all U.S. citizens, and there are consequences for not being present. According to The Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, failing to attend jury duty without an approved excuse will lead to a minimum $100 fine that will be imposed by the court in which the juror was summoned.

Lucky for students, according to the measure (HB 277) filed by Rep. Melony Bell, R-Fort Meade it would allow students to request an excuse from jury duty. However, there are a few requirements before being granted access: the student must be 21 or younger and must be enrolled full-time in high schools, state colleges, state universities or private postsecondary institutions.

Florida State University student and athlete, Demetrius Artis, was summoned to jury duty during the fall 2018 semester, but was excused due to his athletic and academic schedule.  

Artis said being summoned to jury duty as a college student is not only an inconvenience but an added task and worry on top of assignments and extracurricular activities.

“With my busy school and football schedule, the last thing on my mind was attending jury duty,” said Artis. “I was luckily excused, but I know others that had to attend regardless of their schedules."

While most states already have student jury duty laws, others allow students to defer jury duty. However, it is essential to keep in mind that asking for a jury duty excuse is no guarantee.

Each state, according to their specific district courts, consider a student’s credit hours, even if that student is attending an out-of-state college, to be exempt from jury duty.

According to the U.S. District Court of Colorado, “temporary excuses can be granted for many types of temporary hardships, such as established vacation plans, temporary medical problems, students who are at college, economic or family hardships, etc.”

The current Florida law allows a small group of citizens to be excused from jury duty. For example, law enforcement officers are not subject to attend jury duty unless they choose to.

If the HB 277 is passed, full time students will be given the opportunity to be exempt from jury duty as well.