[Read my new post The Mentally Ill Person’s Guide To Jury Duty]



jury duty for the mentally ill
Does being mentally ill disqualify you from serving as a juror?

I received some very interesting mail this morning. I’ve been selected for jury duty in August.

This being my first summons, I’m not quite sure what to expect. My mom told me that just because I got the summons, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be selected for the jury. I’m both excited and trepidatious (the OED says it’s a word; shut up, spellcheck), and I can’t figure out what feeling is more dominant.

I guess I’m leaning more towards being anxious because of one part of the summons in particular. On it, it asks if I have any physical or mental conditions that would impair my judgement, and if so, I must list them. Being that I have anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, I’m on the fence about answering yes.

Personally, I think I’m highly capable of looking at the case in an unbiased, logical way. I do, however, foresee possibilities that I do not like the thought of:

  • What if I have an anxiety attack in the middle of a session?
  • I’m terrified of conflict, so what if people get upset with me (fellow jury members, the community) because they don’t like my decision? How do I deal with that?
  • What if I do get accepted, but then they find out that I’m mentally ill and embarrassingly kick me off jury duty in front of everyone?
  • What if the trial is for something particularly horrible, and I find out halfway through the case that I can’t handle it?

Has anyone else with a mental illness been on jury duty? What “mental condition” would disqualify me from serving? I’d greatly appreciate any advice you guys can offer. I don’t know what to say in my reply to the summons. Do I tell them about my disorders, or is it unnecessary? Do I qualify to be a juror?

[I answer these questions and more in my follow-up post The Mentally Ill Person’s Guide To Jury Duty]


Feature image background photographed by Brian Turner and used via Flickr.

3 thoughts on “Jury Duty For The Mentally Ill: Are You Fit To Serve?

  1. I’m sorry you’re struggling with this decision. Personally, I don’t see why it would affect your capabilities to be a good juror, unless you get so anxious that you can’t focus. I think that it all depends on your anxiety level and if you think you’d be able to handle the situation. I’ve never had jury duty, but I have worried about going if I had to. I think you just have to do what you’re comfortable with. I hope that helps! I wish you all the best!

    1. Thanks. 🙂 I’ve been thinking about calling the court and asking them if it would be an issue, and if it’s not, I’ll just check Yes on the box that I’m fine. I’ll have to call them tomorrow when they open again.

  2. Good luck! I know that you have some great ideals and you seem like a very good person. I’m sure you’d make a great juror.

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