So you are a stand-in and you’ve been summoned for jury duty – how do you balance that with stand-in work?

Read on to find out about the current process of jury duty in New York City (subject to change), and how you can work out completing jury duty with your job as a stand-in.

(Please note that the jury duty process and experience will differ in other cities.)

Questionnaire

It’s common to receive a questionnaire in the mail about two months before being summoned for jury duty in NYC. This questionnaire will verify your information and confirm you are eligible to serve in the borough where you live. It is important to return this questionnaire even if you are worried you will have a conflict (like stand-in work) when you get called to serve.

When you get the official summons, you will have an opportunity to postpone your jury duty. So, this questionnaire can serve as a notice that you will probably be getting called for jury duty soon, and you can try to prepare for how you will balance jury duty with stand-in work.

Summons

After you return your completed questionnaire, you will receive an official jury duty summons in the mail within the next few months. This will tell you what type of jury duty you are being called for (Trial Jury Duty or Grand Jury Duty) and what date you are expected to report. This date will be about 3-4 weeks after you receive the summons.

Trial Jury Duty

This is the most common type of jury duty that you can be called for. Your summons will give you the address to report to at 9:00AM on the date that is noted, and you are expected to stay there all day until 5:00PM with an hour lunch break. You will find out at the end of your first day if you will be needed to return a second day, and it’s possible you will be summoned to report to serve for a total of three days.

When you arrive for trial jury duty, you will watch a short video that explains the process. You are told that if selected for a trial, the average trial lasts five to seven days. After the video, you wait as cases come in and names are randomly drawn from a drum to select people to be questioned by lawyers and/or a judge, as potential jurors for a case.

You still may not be selected to serve as a juror on that case, and it’s possible your name may not get drawn at all. You also may be sent home early, having completed your service. There are a lot of different possible scenarios, and it depends on how busy the court is that day and how many cases are coming in.

Ask your friends and colleagues what their experience with jury duty was like. You’ll find that people have had lots of different experiences, and you just have to wait and see what happens on the day(s) you serve.

Postponement for Trial Jury Duty

If you know you cannot serve on the date you are originally assigned to, the summons has instructions about how to postpone your jury duty.

You can select a future date two to six months after the date to which you have been assigned. You will then receive another summons a few weeks before the date you selected. However, you may not get the exact date you requested since new jurors are not called every day, so you will be assigned the closest date to the one you selected. Keep this in mind if the date you are choosing is very specific.

If you need another postponement after your first one, there are instructions about how to go about getting one. In general, you can be granted a postponement for medicals reasons, obligations as a caretaker, etc.

To find out more about the current process of Trial Jury Duty in New York City, you can download the handbook here:

http://www.nyjuror.gov/handbooks.shtml

Grand Jury Duty

This type of jury duty is generally a longer commitment than Trial Jury Duty.

A grand jury decides whether or not a person should be charged with a crime and sent to trial. If selected to sit on a grand jury, you will serve a daily shift for two weeks to a month or more. However, the number of days per week you are asked to serve and the number of hours each day may vary.

Your summons will give you the address to report to where jurors are selected to serve on a grand jury. When you report, attendance is taken, and when your name is called, you are asked to respond yes or no if you are available to serve. It is explained to you that if you say you cannot begin to serve on a grand jury that day, you will automatically receive another summons in the mail in the next few months, so you will eventually have to serve.  A judge will randomly draw names out of a drum to select people to serve on a grand jury. There is no questioning in this type of jury duty at this point — if your name is drawn, you will serve on a grand jury.

Like with Trial Jury Duty, the experience will differ based on how busy the court is at that time. They may select several grand juries on the day you serve, and you will be given details about the days and times you will be serving. If you say you are available to serve but are not selected for a grand jury that day, you will still be considered as having completed your service.

Postponement for Grand Jury Duty

Your summons will have instructions about how to postpone your Grand Jury Duty service.

For more information, you can download the current New York City Grand Juror’s handbook here:

http://www.nyjuror.gov/handbooks.shtml

What to Do If You Have a Regular Stand-In Job

If you have a regular stand-in job, you may want to postpone your jury duty service until the job is over, or schedule to serve on a planned hiatus for the production.

Since you will have a few weeks notice about when your date will be to serve, you may choose to talk to an AD. Explain that you have jury duty and will need to take one to three days off, but that you intend to return after your service is completed. ADs should understand this, since most people get summoned to serve jury duty at some point. That way you shouldn’t have to worry that you will be permanently replaced.

You’ll also want to let the casting director who books you know about your jury duty service, so they can find someone to fill in for you. If you don’t stand in on the production every day, you could wait until you get your work schedule for the week of your jury duty, and at that time let the casting director know that you have a conflict.

What to Do If You Are Looking for Stand-In Work

If you are currently submitting for stand-in work but don’t have a regular stand-in job, it may be wise to just go and serve on the day you are first called, instead of postponing it. You could land a regular stand-in job at any time, but it’s easier to gauge the possibility of that a few weeks out as opposed to a few months out.

Some good news is that NYC courts allow the use of electronic devices in the jury duty waiting rooms. So, you will be able to check your email, take phone calls, and submit for stand-in work while you are waiting.

If you have an interview for regular stand-in work on a production and you are asked if you have any conflicts, you’ll have to decide if you want to disclose your upcoming jury duty. There are a lot of factors to think about.

Ben Hauck, editor of Stand-In Central, recently posted a great article about how to handle availability for stand-in jobs. This is an excellent detailed resource that can help you make your decision:

How Available Do You Need to Be for a Stand-In Job?

What to Say If You Are Questioned to Serve on a Jury

Stand-in work is unique in the sense that it can be irregular and you may not know when you will be working that far in advance. This can obviously cause stress when it comes to jury duty — you could risk losing out on a stand-in work when you have to serve. So what do you say when you are questioned to potentially serve on a jury?

For Trial Jury Duty, you may be selected to be questioned by lawyers and/or a judge to serve on a trial. Here you may have the opportunity to explain that you are a stand-in, and that serving on a trial may cause you hardship. However, you may not have the opportunity to do this, or an excusal may not be granted for you. There are many different ways the questioning could go, and you will just have to wait and see what happens if you get to this point.

For Grand Jury Duty, if you say you are available to serve when attendance is taken, you must serve if selected. They will expect that you would have postponed if you had a hardship and were unable to serve at that time. So with this type of jury duty, you are not questioned like you are for Trial Jury Duty, and you may not have an opportunity to explain that you risk losing out on work.

In Conclusion

There are many different scenarios you can encounter when serving jury duty, and you cannot predict exactly what your experience will be like.

You may also have other aspects of your life that you have to consider, such as family obligations or other work.

But the fact is that you will have to serve at some point. It could be a risk either way to serve your original assigned date or wait to see what’s going on at the time you select to postpone it to.

Talk to friends and colleagues about their experience with jury duty. Consider your current situation, and figure out what’s best for you to do. Good luck!

What was your experience balancing stand-in work with jury duty? Do you have any more tips or suggestions? Please comment below!