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Got jury duty? Florida could join other states letting new moms be excused

(As originally published, Mon, January 8th 2024)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (TND) — New moms in Florida may be able to get out of jury duty if a new proposal in the legislature passes.

The bill was filed in November, and it received unanimous votes in the state House’s Civil Justice Subcommittee in December, and the Judiciary Committee on Monday.

An act relating to excusal from jury service by Lenny Cohen on Scribd

There’s a similar bill in the state Senate and it would allow women who’ve “given birth within the six months before the reporting date” be excused if they ask in writing with “a photocopy of the newborn’s birth certificate.”

“Strong and healthy families should be at the heart of our state’s policymaking,” bill sponsor Rep. Carolina Amesty, R-Windermere, said. “With this bill, Florida will join ranks with other states as politically diverse as California and Iowa in allowing new mothers to be excused from jury duty.”

The legislative session begins Tuesday and if passed, the new law will go into effect on July 1.

According to a House analysis, each of Florida’s 67 counties “sets its own procedure for selecting jurors,” and, “A juror who receives a summons may postpone the summons for up to six months.”

Florida already requires these groups of citizens be excused from jury duty upon request:

  • An expectant mother and parent who is not employed full time and has custody of a child under 6 years of age;
  • A person 70 years of age or older;
  • A person who is responsible for the care of a person who, because of mental illness, intellectual disability, senility, or other physical or mental incapacity, is incapable of caring for himself or herself;
  • A full-time student between 18 and 21 years of age, who is attending high school or any state university, private postsecondary educational institution, Florida College System Institution, or career center; or
  • A full-time federal, state, or local law enforcement officer, unless such person chooses to serve.

State law says people in these groups may be excused from jury service upon request:

  • A practicing attorney, physician, or person who is physically infirm;
  • A person who shows hardship, extreme inconvenience, or public necessity; or
  • A person, who because of mental illness, intellectual disability, senility, or other physical or mental capacity, is permanently incapable of caring for himself or herself.

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Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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