Q: I received notice of jury service, but with the coronavirus, I have a lot of apprehension about it. I am over 65 years of age. Can I be excused, at least at this time?
-B.W., Woodland Hills
A: As this column is written, many courts are closed and jury service presently is not required. You can call the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s jury service phone line, 213-972-0970, to hear automated information, or call during business hours and speak to someone about your concerns; in Orange County, the number is 657-622-7000. The jury summons you received has an identification number, which you will need when you call. It is not yet clear when jury service will resume, but serious precautions are going to be taken for everyone’s sake. For example, jury pools likely will be much smaller, and it is possible that medical excuses and hardship cases will be given greater credence.
Q: If I am selected for jury service, do I get paid by the court?
-B.K., Long Beach
A: Jurors are not paid for the first day of jury service, but are paid $15 per day and 34 cents per mile one way for the second and subsequent service days. The payment is tallied at the conclusion of your jury service, and a check is mailed to your home address.
Q: It is devastating for me as a small shop owner to be away from the store, so jury service is not possible. Will I be excused?
A: Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it was unlikely you would be excused for a financial hardship simply because you are self-employed, or work for someone who does not pay for jury service. The burden to avoid jury service has been extreme financial hardship, which was not easy to demonstrate. That might change with the pandemic. Also, obtaining a reasonable postponement of service usually is not very difficult, if that might help, to at least some degree.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com.