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- Jury Duty While Living as an Expat in Latin America
A few years ago, I was back in my small town in Iowa just visiting family.
During the visit, I remember talking with my dad in his truck as he was driving around somewhere.
Talking about whatever.
And, during the casual conservation, he mentioned briefly how “oh hey, they asked you to do jury duty months ago.”
I asked him to clarify.
“OK. And?” I asked.
“Nothing. They sent a letter to my address asking for you and I told them that you were out of country.”
End of story.
Jury Duty Abroad as an American
For the non-Americans who may or may not understand what jury duty is (no idea if they use the same term in other English speaking countries), jury duty is basically when you are called in to be part of a jury for some court case.
Some asshole committed a crime and they need a jury to determine his innocence or guiltiness.
Regardless, I wasn’t around when I supposedly got called in for jury duty.
I didn’t even know about it until my dad told me about it way after the fact.
Had no impact on my life whatsoever.
Still, it’s not so easy.
A friend of mine told me that he got called in for jury duty recently and he lives in Mexico also.
But he’s from a different part of the US than I am.
Long story short, the court was stricter with him.
A real pain in the ass.
With me, all I needed was my dad to tell them to fuck off.
For him, the court wanted proof that he lived abroad.
But, similar to me, he isn’t a resident of Mexico.
Not officially a resident.
Even though he lives in Mexico and has spent as many years down here as I have, it doesn’t matter.
No official proof that he actually lives in Mexico.
So the court wanted proof that he lived in Mexico but he didn’t have any official documentation that showed that he lived in Mexico.
So, long story short, the dude kept sending random ass documents one after another to show that he lives in Mexico.
Many didn’t pass the sniff test.
But the court ultimately gave up on being cunts as they finally realized that he isn’t around and probably does live in Mexico “or some shit.”
And that was it.
Still, it’s an issue that could come up as you live abroad but use the address of some family member back home to receive any mail.
Where, on paper, it kinda looks like you live in the US but you really don’t.
Let me explain.
The Jury Duty Issue
I haven’t lived in the US for almost 5 years and I haven’t lived in Iowa for almost 9 years.
Regardless, on paper, it looks like I live in Iowa for those last 9 years.
And that’s because my address is still, on paper, tied to my dad’s address.
So, if you knew my full name, you’d likely somehow conclude that I live in a small town in Iowa when I really don’t.
My bank in the US thinks that’s my address at least.
Including other sources.
But I don’t really live in Iowa.
Still, because of the above, I imagine that must’ve been the reason for why they asked me to attend jury duty.
As a side point, I wouldn’t have minded attending jury duty.
Sounds cool as fuck.
To be one of a few to determine the fate of another person.
“Guilty? Guilty! Hang him!”
Boondocks -- Uncle Ruckus Jury
Going back to the point though, I had to have my dad clear issues up.
And, in the long run, it does make me wonder how I will handle the issue going forward.
My sister has been worried about my dad’s health over the last month or two since a vehicle accident he was part of.
What if he did die?
Well, if I had to guess, I’d change my address to my moms.
If she died after a freak accident, I guess I’d switch it to my sisters or something.
So, in the long run, I don’t have much to worry about.
And that’s how I’d assumingly handle the jury duty question.
Though it would be funny…
What if it did switch to my mom or sisters address and they forgot to notify me about it?
Then the jury duty court system goes full autism on my ass and tries to sanction me for not responding?
I have no idea how it works but, after watching a friend of mine teleport through hoops to satisfy these fuckers, then I can only imagine.
And that’s why I’m writing about it now – what if this shit does bite me in the ass someday?
I imagine I’m not the only person who has had to deal with the question about jury duty.
So maybe someone reading can relate.
Either way, based on what I have read online, it sure seems to vary based on where you are from in the US.
Some places being a bigger pain in the ass than others.
With urban areas seemingly a bigger pain in the ass than rural ones.
Not sure how true that is but it seems to be the case based on what I’ve been reading online today.
Either way, what should you do if you get called into jury duty while living abroad?
Given I have limited experience with this with only one moment, here’s the tips I have found anyway based on what I just read online and based on my own experiences.
First, if you can, have your address maybe be that of a trusted family member?
Then, when the issue arises, have the family member tell them to fuck off.
Second, if you are an official resident of another country, then have the documentation ready to show that perhaps in case that they ask for proof.
If not an official resident, then perhaps be like my friend and just throw random ass proof until they go away.
Supposedly that worked but I haven’t tried that method. Results may vary.
Third, some places might accept just a simple letter explaining that you live out of country. That probably should work for a lot of places I imagine. After all, people are always moving around, no?
Fourth, I read online that if you haven’t resided in the US for 6 months, then you are let off the hook supposedly. No idea how true that is but just what I read.
Fifth, ignore it? Some of what I read suggests that, if they can’t prove you received the jury notification, then they can’t do shit. Again, this is not legal advice.s I’m just a random dude on the internet.
Sixth, from what I read online, supposedly some jurisdictions will keep pushing back the date for you to do jury duty and will just wait it out until you get back home. Then hit your ass with it. No idea how true that is but I read that some folks had to keep notifying every few months that they aren’t in country and, upon returning to the country for a short period, had to do jury duty in their jurisdiction.
Finally, the thought did cross my mind as to how would it go down if Mexico summoned me for jury duty? Or whatever new country you moved to.
Would sure be a test of my Spanish skills if I had to sit on a jury down here and listen to the prosecution and defense arguments as to the innocence of some random Mexican dude.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Just some food for thought on a small detail to living abroad – getting called up for jury duty while living abroad in Latin America.
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Thanks for reading.