The Office of Jury Commissioner (OJC) doesn't have access to all the information that could disqualify you from service, such as citizenship records, Social Security Numbers, and medical information, so it's possible to get a summons even if you're not qualified for service. A potential juror's situations can also change from year to year, so it's possible that you could be qualified for jury duty one year but not the next, or vice versa.
There are a few different reasons you might not be qualified (or "disqualified") to perform jury service. Find out if you're eligible to serve and what you should do if you're not qualified.
Who is eligible to serve jury duty?
To serve as a Massachusetts juror, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be 18 or older
- Be a resident of or live in Massachusetts for more than 50% of the year
- Speak and understand English well enough to be able to participate in a trial
Who is disqualified from serving jury duty?
Unless you meet the requirements of one of these 10 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.
There are 10 reasons why you would be disqualified from serving jury duty. You are disqualified from service if:
- You aren't a citizen of the United States. You'll need to provide your alien card identification number, visa status, or other pertinent information.
- You aren't a Massachusetts resident and you don't live in Massachusetts for more than 50% of the year. You'll need to provide an explanation for your situation and your new address.
- You're under 18. You'll need to provide your date of birth.
- You're 70 or older and choose not to serve. You'll need to provide your date of birth.
- You can't speak and understand English. You'll need to provide your primary language.
- You have a mental or physical disability that keeps you from serving and have a doctor's note stating the doctor's opinion that you can't serve.
- You're 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 can't serve for this reason. (You aren't eligible for this disqualification if you work outside the home.)
- You're currently living outside the judicial district you were summoned to, and don't intend to return to that district any time in the next 12 months. You'll need to provide an explanation for your situation and your new address.
- You've been convicted of a felony in the last 7 years, are currently charged with a felony, or are currently in custody at a correctional institution. You'll need to provide your specific charge and the date of conviction.
- You've served as a grand or trial juror in state or federal court in the last 3 years, or you're currently scheduled to serve. You'll need to provide the date and place of prior or currently scheduled jury duty.
Receiving summons for other people or minor children
- If you receive a summons for someone else or for someone who no longer lives at your address — Return the summons to the United States Post Office and tell them that the person has relocated. They will note that the addressee doesn't receive mail at that address and inform the OJC by returning the summons as undeliverable.
- If your child won't be 18 years old on the date they have been summoned to appear — Contact the OJC in writing with your child's date of birth so they can be disqualified. You should also contact your town hall with your child’s date of birth, because if the town submits the same incorrect information to the OJC next year, your child may be summoned again.
- If you receive a summons for someone who has died — Call the OJC at 1-800-THE-JURY (843-5879) for assistance.
Jury duty if you're over 70
If you're 70 or older, you can choose whether or not you want to perform jury service. If you don't want to serve, you can notify the OJC that you'd like to be disqualified, and the OJC will permanently remove you from the juror list. You'll need to contact the OJC to be added to the list again if you later decide you'd like to serve.
Jury duty for college students
If you live in Massachusetts for at least 50% of the year, you're eligible for jury duty, so most college students are eligible.
- If you're attending college in Massachusetts but you're from another state, you're required to serve in response to your Massachusetts summons. If your date conflicts with your class schedule, you can reschedule your service to a new date within 1 year of your original service date.
- If you live in Massachusetts but attend school in another state, you're required to serve unless you won't return to Massachusetts for 1 year or more. You can reschedule your service to a new date within 1 year of your original service date, when you will be in Massachusetts.
- If you attend college in one county in Massachusetts but live in another, you're eligible to serve in either county. If you're summoned in both your home and school counties, you should contact the OJC at (800) 843-5879 for help.
Jury duty if you're breastfeeding
If you're a breastfeeding mother, you are still qualified to perform jury service. Every courthouse is prepared to accommodate breastfeeding mothers who need a private space to pump. You can also postpone your service for up to a year if you prefer, or request a hardship transfer to a more convenient location, depending on your situation. You should contact the OJC at (800) 843-5879 to discuss your options if you need further assistance
Federal jury summons
If you've been summoned for both state and federal jury duty, you should report for federal jury service. You should send a copy of your federal jury duty summons to the OJC prior to your scheduled date to be disqualified from your state jury duty obligation. To learn more about federal jury duty, visit the Federal Jury Duty Information page.
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