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So If You're Tagged For Jury Duty Do You Have To Comply?

  • Published
  • By TSgt Andy Garza
  • Air Force Judge Advocate General's School, Paralegal Instructor
Like many legal issues, the answer is maybe. But let's start at the beginning. Individuals are chosen for jury duty randomly from an eligible group of people residing in the court's jurisdictional area. The court system may utilize a variety of tools to determine eligible jurors including lists of registered voters, vehicle registrations or anyone who has a driver's license.

The law recognizes that a member's duty location may be anywhere in the United States, or in a foreign country. Federal law protects military members when they are stationed away from home. It provides that military members are still eligible to vote in their home state, register their vehicles, and maintain residency for income tax purposes. However, the exercise of these rights also means that a servicemember may fall into the jury pool and be called on to serve.

Only a few members of the military are categorically exempt from jury duty--general officers, commanders, forces engaged in combat operations, personnel in training, and those stationed overseas. These individuals do not have to serve on a state or local jury. For other military members, they are exempt from jury duty if it would unreasonably interfere with military duties or adversely affect unit readiness. The Secretary of the Air Force delegated the authority to Special Court-Martial Convening Authorities (usually Wing Commanders) to exempt a military member from jury duty under 10 U.S.C. ยง 982.