January 5, 2017 3:43 am at 3:43 am #618966
Are there any halachic issues with a Jewish person doing jury duty?
It sounds like there would be, but can one get out of jury duty for religious reasons?
Have you been on a jury?January 5, 2017 4:23 am at 4:23 am #1209141
I never heard of anyone getting out for religious reasons. I was only called up for jury duty twice. One time, I tried to get out because of a work conflict but was unable to. Meanwhile, I figured out that my number was high enough that I probably wouldn’t be called in anyhow, and I was right.
The second time, I was in Israel and only found out about it afterwards. Apparently, I was getting all these notices that I was in trouble for not responding and I was going to be arrested or something like that. My friend who picked up the mail for me called them and explained that I was in Israel, so they were like, “ok, fine, no problem”.January 5, 2017 4:28 am at 4:28 am #1209142
There are halachic issues if one or both parties in the case are Jewish.
Getting out of the case can be done by telling the court you can’t judge the case fairly.January 5, 2017 6:01 am at 6:01 am #1209143
Joseph, maybe the person should first ask his rav if there is a halachic problem. Even if both parties are Jewish there might not be as the jury generally acts as an arbitration panel. It might even be an opportunity for a kiddush Hashem as a knowledgeable person could bring in Talmudic principles such as ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??? ????. BTW, if a person has semicha he probably can get a clergy exemption.January 5, 2017 7:43 am at 7:43 am #1209144takahmamashParticipant
I was called for jury duty several times; I didn’t mind, because the places I worked had arrangements for paying people on jury duty. Also, the courthouses were near the Inner Harbor, so it was nice to get out at lunchtime and walk around. (There was also an excellent used book store nearby.)
I was selected to be on two juries. I was an alternate on a murder trial – one guy shot another in the eye and killed him because of an argument over $10. The other trial was a civil lawsuit over some false advertising concerning mortgages; I was the jury foreperson, which was even more fun.
The judge for the second trial was actually retired, but heard cases occasionally to help keep the court dockets clear. He had social engagements every day, so our lunch break was often 2 hours long. I sent him a note on Friday morning, telling him that I needed to be home before sundown because of the Jewish Sabbath. He told us in open court that we would be leaving in daylight every day, so it would be safe for us to get home before dark.January 5, 2017 10:00 am at 10:00 am #1209145
New York State does not have any exemptions.
Who must report?
There are no automatic exemptions or excuses from jury service in New York State. Everyone who is eligible must serve. You are eligible to serve as a juror in New York State if you are:
1) a United States citizen,
2) at least 18 years old, and
3) a resident of the county to which you are summoned to serve.
In addition, jurors must
4) be able to understand and communicate in the English
5) not have been convicted of a felonyJanuary 5, 2017 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm #1209146
No exemptions but once you’re in court if you state during jury selection that you can’t judge fairly the case, you won’t be selected.January 5, 2017 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm #1209147
Rules vary by jurisdiction, so please do not give blanket advice that is not true in all states.
There is no such thing as a ‘clergy exemption’ in Connecticut. Clergy are called and serve. In fact, lawyers are not exempt. That said, every time I’ve been called and subjected to the questioning the first questions is always: Do you know any of the attorneys, prosecutors or judges involved in this case?
Living in a small state, The chances are that I do and I am excused for cause.
The only ones exempt in CT are those over 70, the Constitutional office holders of the state, members of the State Legislature while it is in session, felons convicted within 7 years (not in prison), those who can not understand English and sitting Judges. All others must make an appearance or file a medical or other excuse and await a ruling.
My college daughter was called to serve in February while she’ll be at college in NY. She was given the opportunity to go on line and choose another date within 10 months.January 5, 2017 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm #1209148
Avi, it is prohibited for two Jews to utilize civil court (arkaos) to litigate their dispute. This is true even if both parties agreed to use civil court, and all the more so if one party took the other to civil court against his will when he was willing to go to beis din, as halacha requires.January 5, 2017 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm #1209149
There is also halachic issues being on a jury where a Jew is tried on a criminal complaint. Especially since halachic standards of evidence aren’t used and especially if the allegation isn’t a crime under halacha.January 5, 2017 3:17 pm at 3:17 pm #1209150
But for criminal or domestic cases we are allowed to take a Jewish rodef to court.January 5, 2017 4:12 pm at 4:12 pm #1209151akupermaParticipant
Jurors only decide on facts of the case, as instructed by the judge. They don’t get to decide what is mutar and assur, only what happened. This fact totally undermines the halachic argument against jury service that MIGHT exist otherwise.
There are some Christian sects who hold that one is prohibited from judging another person, and they are exempted. It would probably be avodah zarah to seek an exemption on these grounds.January 5, 2017 4:21 pm at 4:21 pm #1209152
A jury is charged with determining the guilt of the defendant. Using much lower standards of evidence than halacha requires. For many actions halacha doesn’t deem criminal. And resulting in far greater punishment, should the jury vote guilty, than the Torah prescribes even if it is a crime under halacha.
A Jew cannot permit himself to be party to such injustice.January 5, 2017 4:30 pm at 4:30 pm #1209153
lb: A rodef can be killed while still a rodef.January 5, 2017 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm #1209154baisyaakovliberalParticipant
This is interesting. What if someone doesn’t know whether the parties involved are Jewish?
It shouldn’t be hard to get out of it. Just say something one side doesn’t want to hear during questioning and they’ll turn you away.January 5, 2017 4:50 pm at 4:50 pm #1209155MenoParticipant
“It shouldn’t be hard to get out of it. Just say something one side doesn’t want to hear during questioning and they’ll turn you away.”
I’ve never made it to the jury selection stage, but I’ve heard that it’s not always that simple. The lawyers do this all the time, they know what to look for.January 5, 2017 4:51 pm at 4:51 pm #1209156
It’s not as easy as you think. We attorneys and the judges know the typical answers people use to get out of jury duty. Attorneys can only dismiss so many potential jurors out of hand and won’t waste these challenges on someone with made up smart answers.
Many of us employ jury consultants and know more about potential jurors than you can imagine.
Many a potential juror attempting to lie has been confronted with the jury questionnaire that may have been filled out months earlier. Getting caught lying during the proceeding and subject you to criminal penalties.
If youy wish to live in the USA then you have obligations as a citizen and that includes jury duty.January 5, 2017 5:05 pm at 5:05 pm #1209157
I could hear a svara that someone could become a juror for the explicit purpose of helping the jury acquit or otherwise have the case against the yid resolved in his favor.January 5, 2017 5:11 pm at 5:11 pm #1209158
CTL/Meno: I can almost assure you that if the potential juror states during questioning that he can determine who is right the moment he first sees the faces of the parties to the case by seeing their expressions (or states he is biased against certain ethnicities), the judge or lawyers will quickly veto his being selected as a juror.
Otherwise they’d be strong grounds for overturning the verdict on appeal.January 5, 2017 5:14 pm at 5:14 pm #1209159
I have been called for jury duty on a number of occasions. I have never been picked for a jury. In NYS, if one is not chosen for a jury on the day they are called, they are usually dismissed and do not have to serve for another 8 years.
Officially, in NYS:
How long is jury service?January 5, 2017 5:18 pm at 5:18 pm #1209160
CTL, I very strongly suggest that you take a remedial reading course. I wrote “probably”. Even if there is no official exemption I would imagine that the judge has discretion to excuse people based on occupation.
1. I strongly suggest that you join CTL. If enough of you get together you can even lobby the bar association for CLE credit. I wrote that one should ask one’s rav. If you google “jury duty halacha” you will find several opinions. I personally have difficulty with two:
a. One opinion says that it is safek gezel. As the litigants accepted the jury that should not be a problem (see SA CM 22:1 – mishna in Sanhedrin [3,2] says even three shepherds).
b. Another opinion says that experts should judge and not lay people. I have the same difficulty with this opinion.
Of course , the plaintiff is committing a chillul Hashem if he does not have permission from a bet din but in our case the litigants are already in court. BTW, I heard of a case where two Chassidim took their dispute to a secular court and were rebuked by the frum judge for not going to a bet din.
2. The secular authorities have the right and obligation to enact criminal laws for the maintenance. These courts are not bound by halachic rules. YWN coffee room capital punisment. See the extended discussion at http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/capital-punishment. See also (on-line) “Serving as Judge in Secular Courts”.January 5, 2017 5:24 pm at 5:24 pm #1209161baisyaakovliberalParticipant
interesting, Meno and CTLAWYER. thanks for informing me 🙂January 5, 2017 5:47 pm at 5:47 pm #1209162
Avi, if one of the parties didn’t agree to a civil court case, having wanted beis din but was required to respond in court to the summons from the plaintiff, he never agreed to anything. He had no choice but to go through a jury trial.January 5, 2017 5:51 pm at 5:51 pm #1209163
CTL, I am surprised that you are not familiar with “In Re Jenison “, that established a religious exemption from jury duty.January 5, 2017 5:51 pm at 5:51 pm #1209164zahavasdadParticipant
Why would a lawyer want someone on a case who clearly doesnt want to be there?
Arent there dismissals where both lawyers agree and it doesnt count against your juror challenges?January 5, 2017 6:11 pm at 6:11 pm #1209165
your use of the word probably is meaningless. If there is NO clergy exemption, then it cannot be granted. A judge may let someone off jury duty, but he can’t make up an exemption that doesn’t exist.
BTW>>>>>if a judge was found to be regularly excusing clergy because of their occupation he would be brought up on disciplinary charges before the chief administrative judge. Judicial discretion is not judicial abuse of the system.
Clergy are no better than other citizens and if called upon to serve they should do so.
If there were a clergy exmption, then every Tom, Dick and Harry would buy a $10 ordination on the internet to avoid jury duty.January 5, 2017 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #1209166
The sitting Mayor of NYC served jury duty.January 5, 2017 6:34 pm at 6:34 pm #1209167
AviK: While I don’t always agree with CTLAWYER, I agree with him on this one. One cannot get an exemption if it doesn’t exist.January 5, 2017 7:41 pm at 7:41 pm #1209168catch yourselfParticipant
When I was selected for jury duty, my Rav [who happened also to be my employer at the time] was adamant that I should not make any attempt to get out of it.
His position is that by allowing the post to be filled by someone else, I was potentially participating in the miscarriage of justice. [This is, of course, based on the premise that I would be an attentive, logical, fair and objective juror.]
He told me rather forcefully that it was my responsibility to answer all questions honestly and accurately, and, if selected (I was), to discharge the responsibilities of juror faithfully (I did).
This was quite some years ago, but if I remember correctly, he even told me that it would be my responsibility to find a defendant guilty of a capital offense, if the law would so dictate as per the evidence presented.
For the record, my Rav is a Talmid Chacham of the first caliber, an alumnus of some of the most respected Yeshivos, who has close personal relationships with many Gedolim.January 5, 2017 8:51 pm at 8:51 pm #1209169
Joseph: Are you saying that instead of taking a rodef to court someone should kill the rodef?January 5, 2017 9:21 pm at 9:21 pm #1209170
Halachicly, if someone is actively a rodef, it is permissible if not obligatory to kill him. Obviously you would need to be certain the person was halachicly a rodef, including knowing what constitutes a rodef. Though it isn’t generally possible to do today since most folks live under non-Jewish authorities who don’t permit this.January 5, 2017 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm #1209171
I am familiar with the Minnesota case In Re Jenison. That deals with a juror claiming exemption from jury duty due to religious beliefs. It does NOT create an exemption for Clergy.
Nice try, but muddling the waters by posting items that are not on point doesn’t make you correct.
There is no such thing in NY or CT as a Clergy Exemption.January 5, 2017 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm #1209172lesschumrasParticipant
Joseph, you never answer,so I’ll keep asking. What’s the heter for the Satmar brothers suing each other in civil court for years?January 5, 2017 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm #1209173
Ask their spokesmen, what do you want from me. Besides, even if your assumption is correct, one of them didn’t sue but was rather sued.January 6, 2017 1:25 am at 1:25 am #1209174
So if one cannot kill a rodef then you one and possibly must take the rodef to the secular court in order to protect oneself.
Pikuach nefesh hereJanuary 6, 2017 2:24 am at 2:24 am #1209175
Lightbrite – how many rodfim are there? And how often would a court case be about an actual rodeif? And even if it is, if they don’t judge them according to halacha, maybe it would be a problem for a Jew to be on the jury?
Remember a rodeif refers to someone who is a real threat to one’s life. The fact that someone is a murderer doesn’t make them a rodeif. I am not sure what someone has to do to be considered a rodeif, but I can’t imagine there are too many of them around.January 6, 2017 4:20 am at 4:20 am #1209176
There are many such cases and may you never experience such a thing.
One example is a stalker who is continually threatening one’s life. This person is not going to be walking voluntarily into a beit din. Without a regular court and judge taking action, the victim’s life is in constant fear of death with legitimate reasons.
Hopefully, in many cases to spare additional trauma, it doesn’t get to the point where the case needs a jury. Hopefully this rodef pleads guilty and accepts the sentence from the judge.
I know someone who had this happen and this person’s rabbi supported this person contacting the police and doing everything to keep safe. There was no other choice. The fact that the rodef was Jewish did not prevent the need to take immediate action and continued action using the county court system.January 6, 2017 4:41 am at 4:41 am #1209177
LB- that is one case that you know of. Personally, I know of none. The chances that the court case when you go to jury duty will be about a Jewish rodeif are pretty slim. And again, even if it is was allowed to turn him in, that might not necessarily mean it’s okay for you to be on the jury trying him.
If you are ever in such a situation, you need to ask a sheilah.January 6, 2017 5:12 am at 5:12 am #1209178
Maybe these are more commonly heard of:
What about someone who hurts children?
Or a severely abusive spouse?January 6, 2017 5:47 am at 5:47 am #1209179yehudayonaParticipant
I once served on a jury in a case where a guy shot his neighbor over a parking space.
iacrisrmma, while it may be true that in NY you generally only serve one day if you don’t get picked, I don’t think that’s the official policy (unlike Massachusetts, which has a “one day or one trial” rule). The last time I did NY jury duty, I was put on a panel for a medical malpractice case, and as luck would have it, one of the defendants was a doctor I had used. I was sent home that day. Years ago, I sat for several days before being dismissed.
In NY, once you serve, you’re exempt for 6 years, not 8.
Federal jury duty has different rules. I just got excused from Federal jury duty based on something that I don’t think would have gotten me out of NY state jury duty.January 6, 2017 9:17 am at 9:17 am #1209180WinnieThePoohParticipant
Lightbrite, there are 2 separate issues- one is going to the police to report someone who may be dangerous, and the other, which is the topic of conversation here, is whether one can sit on the jury hearing this guy’s case. In the former, if the victim does not report him, or press charges, he may very well get away with harming more people. In the latter, the case will go on whether or not the frum Jew sits on the jury.January 6, 2017 11:38 am at 11:38 am #1209181
CTL, someone with semicha might have an extra claim to a religious exemption as some authorities say that Rabbi Eleazer b’Rabbi Shimon was only wrong (Baba Metzia 83b) becuase a talmid chacham should not engage in such activities (Bet Yosef Choshen Mishpat 388 near the end of the siman). I do not know about other religions but it would seem logical that they would have similar attitudes. In any case, I remind you that I wrote “probably” not “definitely”. Please learn the proper use of the English language. You yourself implied that in some jurisdictions there is an official clergy exemption.
Litebrite, a rodef is not necessarily someone who is threatening one’s life. he could even be a forger (Rema Choshen Mishpat 388,12).January 6, 2017 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm #1209182lesschumrasParticipant
Last time I served, a guy gave clearly rediculous answers to not get picked and was excused. The court officer later said that the unofficial policy was to put people like that back in to be called in six monthsJanuary 6, 2017 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm #1209183
Winnie the pooh: +1. That is kind of what I was trying to say. Thank you for expressing it much more clearly and accurately.January 6, 2017 1:25 pm at 1:25 pm #1209184
Avi, that is referring to a forger who is essentially threatening Jewish lives since the government, in those days, might punish the Jewish community for the activities of the forger. Hence he’s a rodef.January 6, 2017 3:07 pm at 3:07 pm #1209185MenoParticipant
“The court officer later said that the unofficial policy was to put people like that back in to be called in six months”
You only have to serve once every two years, so if they call you again you can easily get exempted.
Edit: After further research, it might not be that easy because you have to hold onto the certificate that they give you and if you lose it you’re stuck.January 6, 2017 3:20 pm at 3:20 pm #1209186yehudayonaParticipant
lesschumras, you must not live in New York. If you do NY state jury duty, even just showing up and being dismissed, you’re exempt for 6 years.
Avi, your use of the term “clergy exemption” is the point of contention. It implies that clergy are automatically exempt. As CTL points out, there’s no such thing in CT and as iacisrmma points out, there’s no such thing in NY. I just checked out MA and NJ, and there’s no such thing there either. I leave it up to you to check out the other 46 states.January 6, 2017 3:54 pm at 3:54 pm #1209187
Thank you. I see now. It’s so interesting that it’s better to have nonJews come to a decision. Granted not every Jew is culturally competent in halacha.
Still if some Jews hold that we need someone Jewish to watch over the dairy process just to have milk, then why not have someone Jewish around in the jury.
Then again, maybe it’s not good for the neshamah and someone who isn’t Jewish would be able to provide a more objective and moral outcome (halachically and secularly) for all parties.January 6, 2017 3:55 pm at 3:55 pm #1209188
LU & WTP: Thank you again. I see that my points aren’t relevant here since they talk about the events leading up to a jury, aka involving secular authorities in matters of pikuach nefesh.
That’s greatly different than sitting in on someone else’s trial. It’s a whole new sheilah.January 6, 2017 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm #1209189
LB: Having a jew watch the milking process has nothing to do with a question about a jew serving on a jury.
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