MISSOURI — The way that juries are selected for trials in Missouri will undergo some changes starting in August

Governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law that will allow certain people to automatically opt-out of jury duty if they please.

The Associated Press reports that those who can now opt-out of the jury selection process are:

  • Healthcare providers
  • People that would endure Extreme Physical or financial hardship for serving on a jury
  • Nursing Mothers
  • Those over 75+ years old

For a jury trial in Missouri, anyone who is summoned to be a part of the jury goes through a selection process. Potential jurors can give reasons why they wouldn’t be able to serve on the jury.

At that time, attorneys jostle to try and get who they want on the jury. Defense Attorney Adam Woody says a new law allows some people to opt-out completely.

“What this law does is essentially skips that step, and instead allows these people to be excused from jury service before even appearing, before even having to show up for service to go through the jury selection process,” Woody explains.

At age 72, Ruby McDaris has sat on a jury once, but her several times in the jury selection process opened her eyes to a lot of things.

“There was some things, ‘Oh I wouldn’t want to do that,’ but then I think, ‘That’s how the law works.’ So I saw a lot of insight for myself. I enjoyed it,” McDaris says.

If McDaris is summoned in when she turns, she can opt-out if she chooses. Since the constitution provides anyone on trial a jury of his or her peers, Woody thinks that this could be an issue if many people are opting out.

“There are cases in which I would want a healthcare professional on the jury. There are cases which I may want an elederly person on the jury,” says Woody.

But just because people can opt-out, doesn’t mean that they will. McDaris says as long as she has her health, she would be open to doing it again.

“I’ve retired for 5 years, I would be excited because it’s a great experience to go through. It would give me something to do, and I just love the process,” McDaris says.

The change takes effect August 28.