I Never Thought I Would Want to Do Jury Duty

File this under I guess you really do want what you can’t have. I never thought I would want to do jury duty, but I do. I recently received a summons for jury duty. The last time I received one several years ago, I was horrified. How would I get the time off work? Can I postpone? Can I get out of it? How can I be sure they won’t pick me for a jury?

This time I got the notice and realized it was not physically possible for me to sit on a jury. Even with my hearing aids, I couldn’t possibly hear well enough. I have trouble hearing in normal situations, unless the background noise is limited and people are facing me as they speak. Imagine a NYC courtroom – all wood and hard surfaces, lawyers pacing back and forth as they are talking with their backs to the jury much of the time, a mumbling defendant, jurors shifting in their seats, the incessant hum of the air conditioner or heater. Sounds like a recipe for disaster for anyone with hearing loss. I know I would not be able to hear all the important details of the case. I could not be responsible for someone’s fate without all the available facts. I could not be an effective juror.

I called my audiologist and she agreed that it would be very difficult for me to reliably hear in a courtroom situation. She wrote a letter for me to submit with my summons and I was excused from jury duty indefinitely. I should have been ecstatic, but I was crushed. This was the first time that I was not able to fulfill a responsibility or function because of my hearing loss. My guess is that it won’t be the last.

Readers, are you able to sit on a jury?

25 thoughts on “I Never Thought I Would Want to Do Jury Duty”

  1. This is exactly what happened to me, I realized there was no way I could participate. I was unable to even understand what was going on in the preselection appearance.
    Like you, I was relieved and upset simultaneously.
    I have been excused permanently from Jury duty. Little losses that start to add up…..

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

    2. iseewhatyousay – I have been married for almost 35 years, have four grown children, and I'm a Mim (grandma). I began losing my hearing as a child (so that's why I always watched my Sunday School teacher pray when I was supposed have my head bowed and eyes closed), and for lack of having an advocate to help me navigate hearing loss, I figured out the world on my own by lip reading and using the other killer visual skills I acquired naturally. It was a unique education I wouldn't wish on anyone else, but I also wouldn't trade all that I've learned along the way. It made me who I am.
      iseewhatyousay says:

      Actually, there is a way you can participate — request CART. However, if you want to be excused, the court is usually happy to excuse you. Personally, for me, my requesting to be excused would make me feel like I was showing the world hearing loss and deafness is disabling.

      We talk a lot about this subject on the club I belong to, SayWhatClub. In our last recent discussion one person shared his very public experience:

      http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/10/after_deaf_oswego_man_dismisse.html

      There is a way for deaf people to serve on juries if they want.

    3. I was excused three years ago, but now they sent me another summons. I have to redocument my situation now. My hearing has gotten worse in the past three years, I know in good conscious I cannot responsibly serve, but folks are making me feel guilty, like I was trying to get out of something. I am trying to do the responsible thing. In any environment, even with people I know closely, If I cannot see them face on and within about 3 feet, I will be lost. I wish people would understand that I am not giving up. I am trying to be responsible.

  2. I too was excused from jury duty because of hearing loss. But if I am called upon to use my eyes for a service, I could participate. So I try to think of the things I can do instead of cannot do. Life goes on.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Great attitude. Thank you for your comment!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thank you for your idea.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. iseewhatyousay – I have been married for almost 35 years, have four grown children, and I'm a Mim (grandma). I began losing my hearing as a child (so that's why I always watched my Sunday School teacher pray when I was supposed have my head bowed and eyes closed), and for lack of having an advocate to help me navigate hearing loss, I figured out the world on my own by lip reading and using the other killer visual skills I acquired naturally. It was a unique education I wouldn't wish on anyone else, but I also wouldn't trade all that I've learned along the way. It made me who I am.
    iseewhatyousay says:

    Over ten years ago I served on two juries. I didn’t want to be excused so I let the judge and attorneys know that I wanted to serve but that I had a severe hearing loss and was a lipreader. I was chosen for to serve on the jury twice, two consecutive years. I simply told the court that I needed to see the speaker in order to know what they were saying and I was able to follow the whole proceeding.

    I’m not sure I could do that now, as I have lost most of the rest of my hearing, but now I know about CART. You don’t have to feel like you “can’t” serve… there is always a work around. It might make you nervous to serve on a jury knowing how difficult it is to communicate/understand when you can’t hear, but step out of your comfort zone and see what you can do. As someone who began losing their hearing in early childhood (currently 55) I wasted way too many years thinking I couldn’t do things because of my hearing loss, but I got tired of giving up even before I tried. Change your attitude and see what you “can” do.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  4. I just found your blog through an article in the spring issue of Hearing Health Magazine. I completed a jury duty survey including the information about my hearing loss. I was upfront regarding the necessary accommodations I would require to be a member of a jury including the need for CART services. While I wasn’t called, I was thanked for being upfront about my needs as an individual with hearing loss and not wasting the court’s time.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Living With Hearing Loss says:

      Thanks for visiting the blog! That is interesting that there was a survey. I have not seen one.

  5. I can’t afford hearing aids but am not able to hear people talking, but, because of cost haven’t gone to a hearing doctor since my mid 60’s so I’m not sure how to let the courts know I would feel terrible if I didn;t understand the testimony.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It can be very frustrating how expensive hearing aids are. Have you tried Costco? They have some reasonably priced options.

  6. My husband has terrible hearing even with hearing aids. The VA knows this – has records f it and still will not write a medical waiver for him to be excused from jury duty. They hint he is trying to avoid his civic duty. I wish his VA “doctor” could have his hearing for just 1 day to see what it is like.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Very frustrating. Can he share his audiogram? Good luck to you and your husband.

  7. This has been very helpful as I’ve often wondered if I should be excused from jury duty due to my hearing loss. Like others have been saying, if you turn your back to me, I’m lost. I would rather be excused than sit anxiously trying to hear.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad it helped you. Thanks for reading!

  8. I reported for jury duty and brought the note from my doctor. It was rescheduled for May 2019 and a Sign Language interpreter will be provided. I’m nervous and hope that I can be fair. I am late deafened so I’ll see how it goes.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good luck! I hope it goes well!

  9. I had an ear infection when I was 11 years old that resulted in over 80% hearing loss In my left ear and by the time I was 22 I also had some loss in my right ear as well. Not sure what caused the loss in my right ear. I was exempt from military service and issued a 1Y classification due to hearing loss. I am now 76 years old and have been able to serve on a jury because of my hearing loss.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your hearing loss story.

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