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December 18, 2014

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The dog ate my summons — and other unique excuses to get out of jury duty

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Sam Morris

Clark County District Judge Douglas Smith is shown in court Thursday, May 9, 2013.

More than 3,000 Clark County residents this year will sit in judgment of their fellow citizens, accepting their civic responsibility to serve on a jury. Some people will be excused, generally for reasons involving health, financial hardship or caring for a young child. And then there are those who just don’t want to be dragged into a jury box for whatever reason and are ready with an excuse. Here are some of our favorites:

The dog ate my summons

Clark County District Court Public Information Officer Mary Ann Price said dog-related excuses are popular. Among the favorites: dogs who need surgery and dogs who eat summons.

One potential juror told Jury Services, “I can’t go to jury duty because I have to take my baby to the doctor.”

When asked how old the baby was, the woman revealed the baby was a dog.

Itching to be excused

While questioning potential jurors, Judge Douglas Herndon noticed a man moving around a lot in his chair. Herndon thought the man simply was fidgety or nervous. He was seated in the jury box, putting him in a prime position to make the cut.

When Herndon asked the group about undue burdens they may have that would prevent them from serving, the man raised his hand.

“I have no problem doing jury duty, and I actually think it would be pretty cool,” he said. “I’m off work for the foreseeable future, so I certainly have the free time. But I’m off work because I’ve developed this really unsightly rash all over the better part of my body, and the doctors haven’t yet figured out what it is. All I know is it’s real itchy and bumpy ... and it’s all over. And when I say all over, I mean all over.”

Herndon excused the man and called the next juror to take his seat.

Think of the children

A man asked to be excused so he could watch his children.

Turns out, they were 21 and 25 years old.

Jury duty just doesn’t suit me

One woman told Judge Carolyn Ellsworth she couldn’t serve because she was allergic to wool, and she believed that the lawyers involved in the case were wearing wool suits.

The criminal defense attorney informed her that his suit was polyester.

Dying not to serve

Another juror asked to be excused to attend a funeral.

When asked when the funeral was, the prospective juror said the person hadn’t died yet — but he was sure the person would soon.

The fake racist

During jury selection in Chief Judge Jennifer Togliatti’s courtroom, a man swore under oath that he didn’t like people of a certain race. A marshal happened to be of that race.

Not long after, the marshal and the man ran into each other at a fast-food restaurant.

“Sorry dude, I don’t have a problem with you,” the man told the marshal. “I just said that to get out of jury duty.”

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