Q. We just started homeschooling, and now I’ve received a summons for jury duty. Part of me feels that I should do my civic duty as a patriot and a Christian, but because I’ll lose so much of my teaching time, it’s a source of concern. Is homeschooling something for which I could be exempted?

A. Jury duty is difficult for most people because of employment. For homeschooling parents, difficulties arise relating to educational and child care responsibilities. We understand the age of your children, available support to care for your children, or extenuating homeschool circumstances may create a hardship.

If this is the case, you may appeal your summons by returning the appropriate form with a letter of explanation.

Point 8 of Virginia Code 8.01-341.1 allows an exemption from jury service upon request as stated below:

Any of the following persons may serve on juries in civil and criminal cases but shall be exempt from jury service upon his request:

8. A person who has legal custody of and is necessarily and personally responsible for a child or children 16 years of age or younger requiring continuous care by him during normal court hours, or any mother who is breast-feeding a child,

If your appeal is denied, you may have the opportunity to address the issue again during the interview process before the presiding judge.

Although exemption from jury duty is possible, participation should be looked upon as a privilege and responsibility. Jury duty is a public duty that can be very informative and can set a good example for your children. It also gives you an opportunity to have a direct impact on your community. When making this decision, each parent must follow his own conscience.

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  1. Anna says:

    As an attorney, Yvonne Bunn’s answer about jury duty to the homeschooling mom is spot on. The mother will certainly be excused by the clerk because she is the primary caretaker during the day of minor children.

    From another viewpoint, jury duty is an amazing opportunity to show the kids law in action. How dry it can be to sit at home reading about European migration or Miranda rights! When you’re in a courtroom (watching Mom on a jury), you’re witnessing the real, living process of law.

    In the case I juried on, the “bad guy” was a drug dealer. Our family would talk into the night, looking up Latin legal terms and wondering what kind of social situation spawned a defendant like that.

    I remember asking my daughter: “What do you think about countries that don’t offer a jury trial to people accused of a crime?” and the conversation ended with an understanding of why Europeans felt a need to migrate here. Years later, a dinner conversation about the trial sent our neighbor scurrying to the computer to investigate how much it cost the state to incarcerate the bad guy we put away. We concluded with news that it costs Virginia more to incarcerate a criminal than to educate a child.

    Homeschooling kids are typically welcome to sit in the courtroom with another adult. Your county sheriff will answer any questions about courtroom protocol.