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I Moved To Japan To Get Out Of Jury Duty

A week before moving to Japan I was called to jury duty.  My happiest day was calling them and telling them that I can't make it...ever.  They added a note to my “juror profile” regarding the international move, and asked me to call them when I move back to the USA.  “Yeah...sure...I'll do that,” I sarcastically replied.  And that was that.  All I had to do was move out of the country, and I was officially exempt from jury duty forever.


Over the next several years I was called to jury duty many times.  The summons notifications were mailed to both my old address in North Hollywood as well as my parents' address in West LA.  I was no longer a USA resident, no longer registered to vote in California, nor filed state taxes anymore, but still they called me to jury duty.  These guys never give up, do they?

I always wondered what happens if you ignore the progressively menacing jury duty letters that are sent to you.  Do they call you?  Do they send someone to your house?  Do they arrest or fine you?  Such speculation was a common topic of late-night semi-drunk conversations with friends.

Well, I'll tell you what happens—absolutely nothing...unless you consider more annoying letters “something.”

I ignored those letters for over 6 years—no phone calls, no fines, no high-profile arrests, no midnight runs to the US Embassy, and no public beatings—only more letters designed to scare the hell out of me.  My friends and family would email scans of the latest ones: “You must call us immediately.”  “You will be fined and sent to prison.”  “You're a jerk.”  ...and so on and so forth.  My friends theorized that I would be promptly sniped the next time I passed through LAX.

The latest one I received via my dad, and it was phrased like the very first in the series--”You've been called to jury duty on this date...”  I took a deep breath, and looking at my shiny new all-in-one printer/scanner/copier next to me, I finally decided to do something about this.  I scanned my Japanese ID card and emailed it to my dad.  This ought to convince them that I don't live in the USA anymore.  My dad printed the scan and mailed it along with a short letter explaining that I don't live in the country.

About 2 weeks later I received a notice from California Superior Court sent directly to my house here in Japan.  Wow.  International postage ain't cheap, so the government really splurged on this, I thought.  The envelope contained the expectantly long and arduous procedure for being removed from the master jury duty list.  Surprisingly, they asked me to translate the copy of my Japanese ID card.  Wouldn't the fact I'm so ardently pursuing removal from jury duty disqualify me from such potentially-skewed translation services?  And what's up with all the hand-written snail-mail letters?  Don't you guys have a website or something?

To be safe I enclosed more than the required information along with some smart-ass comments like, “I'll gladly come to jury duty if you pay for my flight.”

I trust this is all behind me now.  After mailing the letter (190 yen!), I basked in my true reason for moving to Japan in the first place—getting out of jury duty.

Dear California Superior Court Jury Duty People,
Maybe you too should move to Japan because it appears you're in need of some English lessons:

I'm no expert (even though I taught English for 2.5 years), but isn't it supposed to read, “Must be translated if in a language other than English?”  Isn't the creatively menacing use of “another” and “other” in the same sentence in fact redundant?

I'm looking forward to once again hearing from you guys again in the future once more!

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  • Guest - Destinee cruz

    Do u still have jury duty in Japan,If so,u don’t have jury duty stilll right?

  • Guest - PORKFOOT

    the best and most fun way to get out of jury duty is to wait until the case is put in front of you. A lot of times they will bring in the officer who made the arrest in most situations. They will ask you if you have any reason to be bias after presenting the case. Wait for an opportune time and pull this person aside. Tell them that you had a romantic involvement with the officer and that he or she is a total asshole. The greatest part is if you are male and the officer is as well. Then you can ask them to keep this confidential in case the rest of the police department is not sure the officer is a homo or bi/sexual. works like a charm.

  • Guest - Mike Bibbons

    This is great. The people running the jury duty notification service are morons.