- How does the OJC decide who to disqualify?
- I meet one or more of the statutory reasons for disqualification. How do I ask to be disqualified?
- Why doesn't the OJC have records showing that I am disqualified?
- I'm self-employed. Am I disqualified from jury service?
- I'm a stay-at-home parent. Am I disqualified from jury service?
- I'm a student. Am I disqualified from jury service?
- I have religious restrictions that prohibit serving on a jury. Am I required to serve?
- I work in law enforcement. Am I required to serve?
- I have been convicted of a crime. Am I disqualified from jury service?
- I am 70 years old or older. Will the OJC automatically disqualify me?
- I am not a citizen, yet I have been summoned many times. Why doesn't the OJC permanently disqualify me?
- I'm not disqualified, but it's almost impossible for me to go to court to ask to be excused. What can I do?
How does the OJC decide who to disqualify?
The law identifies ten specific reasons a person is disqualified from jury service, and they are listed in the Juror Instructions and Information brochure that came with your summons (the Trial Juror version , the Grand Juror version), or click here to view the Reasons for Disqualification page. Unless you meet the requirements of one of these ten statutory reasons, the OJC has no authority to disqualify you from service. However, when you report for jury duty at the courthouse, a judge may excuse you from service if you can explain why sitting on a jury would be a hardship for you.
The ten reasons for disqualification are:
- You are not a citizen of the United States.
- You are not a Massachusetts resident or inhabitant (person who lives in Massachusetts more than 50% of the year, such as a college student).
- You are under eighteen years of age.
- You are over seventy years of age, and you choose not to serve. (This is the only disqualification that is discretionary with the juror. PLEASE NOTE that if you choose to be disqualified after turning 70, you will be permanently removed from the jury list.)
- You are not able to speak and understand the English language.
- You are incapable, by reason of physical or mental disability, of performing jury service. You must provide a doctor’s letter stating the doctor’s opinion that you cannot serve.
- You are solely responsible for the care of a permanently disabled person living in the same household, and your jury service would cause substantial risk of injury to that person. You must provide a doctor’s letter stating the doctor’s opinion that you cannot serve for this reason. PLEASE NOTE that if you work outside the home, you are not eligible for this disqualification.
- You are currently living outside the judicial district to which you were summoned, and do not intend to return to that district at any time in the next twelve months.
- You have been convicted of a felony in the last seven years, or you are currently charged with a felony, or you are currently in custody at a correctional institution.
- You have served as a grand or trial juror in state or federal court in the last three years, or you are currently scheduled to serve.
I meet one or more of the statutory reasons for disqualification. How do I ask to be disqualified?
You will be required to provide some information about your disqualification in writing, which you can do online at http://juryduty.MAjury.gov or by completing the Juror Confirmation Form that is attached to your summons. If you are requesting a medical or caregiver disqualification, you will have to provide a doctor’s certification.
Why doesn’t the OJC have records showing that I am disqualified?
Many people assume that the OJC has access to information showing that they are disqualified, such as citizenship records, Social Security medical information, and the like. However, due to state and federal privacy laws, the OJC does not have access to most other government records. Also, a potential juror’s situation can change from year to year. For example, although you may have submitted proof of non-citizenship last year, you might become a citizen this year and be eligible for jury service. In order to avoid the possibility of depriving a citizen of the right to participate in the administration of justice, the OJC summonses all potentially eligible jurors and relies on those who are not qualified to document their disqualification online or by mail, using the Juror Confirmation Form.
I’m self-employed. Am I disqualified from jury service?
No. Many self-employed people serve on juries every day. If jury service would be an unusual hardship for you, you will have an opportunity to explain your situation to a judge prior to being impaneled. Only a judge has the authority to excuse you from service.
I’m a stay-at-home parent. Am I disqualified from jury service?
No. You may postpone your service or request a transfer to another court location if in order to minimize the inconvenience, but you must perform your jury service. If a trial is expected to last more than a day, you will have an opportunity to speak to the judge to explain your situation prior to being impaneled. Only a judge has the authority to excuse you from service.
I'm a student. Am I disqualified from jury service?
No. All students over the age of 18 are eligible to serve, even out-of-state residents, if they live in Massachusetts for 50% of the year or more.
I have religious restrictions that prohibit serving on a jury. Am I required to serve?
Yes. Religious objections may be grounds to be excused by a judge, but they are not covered by the ten statutory disqualifications listed above. You should report for service and explain your situation to the judge, if and when you are sent to a courtroom.
I work in law enforcement. Am I required to serve?
Yes. Many people who work in law enforcement serve on juries. Depending on the circumstances, your occupation may be grounds to be excused by a judge, but there are no occupational disqualifications (see the ten statutory disqualifications listed above). You should report for service and explain your situation to the judge, if and when you are sent to a courtroom.
I have been convicted of a crime. Am I disqualified from jury service?
It depends. If you have been convicted of a felony in the last seven years or are currently incarcerated, you will be disqualified by providing the date of conviction and the charges. If you have a pending felony charge, you must provide the charges against you and the court where you are being charged. However, if your conviction occurred more than seven years ago, or was not a felony, you are eligible to serve. You are required to disclose your prior experience with the law on your Confidential Juror Questionnaire .
I am 70 years old or older. Will the OJC automatically disqualify me?
No. You must notify the OJC that you wish to be disqualified, either online, by phone or on the Juror Confirmation Form. This is the only disqualification that is discretionary with the juror – if you are 70 or older, you may still serve if you choose to do so – just confirm your service and appear on your scheduled day. You may also choose to notify the OJC that you do not wish to serve and you will be disqualified. PLEASE NOTE that once you choose to be disqualified for being over age 70, you will be permanently disqualified and will not be summoned again unless you contact the OJC and request to be included in the juror list creation process again.
I am not a citizen, yet I have been summoned many times. Why doesn’t the OJC permanently disqualify me?
The OJC does not have access to records documenting your citizenship status. Further, many people who are disqualified for non-citizenship go on to become citizens at a later time. They are then eligible for jury service, which is one of the most important privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. If you remain a non-citizen, you will likely continue to receive summonses, but all you need to do is document your non-citizenship online or on your Juror Confirmation Form each time you are summoned in order to be disqualified.
I'm not disqualified, but it’s almost impossible for me to go to court to ask to be excused. What can I do?
The Office of Jury Commissioner only has authority to disqualify jurors for one of the ten statutory reasons (lack of citizenship, medical disability, etc). You must appear at the courthouse on your day of service and speak to a judge if you feel you need to be excused for some other reason.
In very rare cases, people for whom it would be an extreme hardship to come to the courthouse at all may submit a written request to be excused under OJC Regulation 9. (This is not to be confused with people for whom it would be a hardship to serve as a juror on a trial. Regulation 9 only applies to people for whom it would be an extreme hardship to appear at the courthouse at all.) Common difficulties such as inconvenience, lack of childcare or business obligations do not qualify for consideration under Regulation 9. Rather, the Regulation applies to cases such as people living in religious orders that restrict outside travel, or those who can document rare medical conditions that prevent them from leaving their homes at any time.
If you believe you qualify for an extreme hardship disqualification under Regulation 9 , you must document your circumstances in a writing signed by you and submit it to:
Office of Jury Commissioner
560 Harrison Avenue, Suite 600
Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2447
PLEASE NOTE that you should submit your signed, written request at least 30 days before your date of service to allow time for review, action, and notification of decision.