Today, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation sponsored by Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, now Act 54 of 2015, which permits persons 75 years of age and older to opt out of jury duty. The legislation also provides an exemption for breastfeeding mothers and judges.
Pennsylvania now joins the twenty-six other states that currently exempt elderly persons from serving on juries.
This exemption was suggested by a 79 year old constituent who was required to provide proof of “undue hardship” from his doctor in order to be excused. The gentleman also reported that his 85 year old friend was also summoned for jury duty.
“Many elderly persons are able and willing to serve on juries, but it’s only right that we provide an exemption for those who are not,” said Senator Greenleaf. “I am very pleased that this consideration for older persons, mothers, and judges, is now law.”
The legislation allows Pennsylvania judges, including magisterial district judges, and judges of the United States as defined under federal law to request an exemption if they are called for jury duty. Judges who take the time to report for jury service are rejected in the vast majority of instances—a waste of valuable time. Judges serve their communities when they preside over their courtrooms far more than when they appear for jury service, only to be rejected.