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Anyone Go Through Jury Duty?

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Hello all! OK, so I'm starting to freak out. Here is the deal- I'm super sensitive to gluten, having been gluten free for some 5 years now and also (like many others) allergic to other things (corn, carrots, green pepper, some mushroom types). To make matters more difficult I'm vegetarian. Luckily we maintain a 99% gluten free (and 100% veggie) household and are very strict about contamination when preparing gluten. We live in a small town in Colorado and the nearest restaurant offering gluten-free fare is more than an hour's drive, not that I eat at any of them anymore as I've been sick more than a few times. Sick for me means at least a day lost to frequenting the toilet, gastro-intestinal pain, and mental fogginess- and that's if the dose is small. Usually if there is contamination it is days before I'm back to normal.

My whole life is arranged around being "normal", I don't work so I don't have to miss meetings or days of work anymore, I don't go anywhere because there is always food, I take everything I need for meals anytime I go out, the last time we flew I packed a backpack with 3 meals and snacks for each day of travel. Normally when I travel, I do so in an RV because I can bring boxes of my own fare that way, and have a toilet no matter what. Only by being obsessed with the minutia of my food today can I have a normal tomorrow, even if it ruins today.

So hopefully that gives you an idea of where I am, to frame what I'm so freaked out about- I got pulled for jury duty. I've done jury duty before, in fact I've been a foreperson. Of course that was back when I had a professional career and wasn't gluten intolerant. Now I'm imagining the bookbag of gluten free meals because I don't know what will happen during the day, and being sequestered, or having a scheduled lunch where there is no possibility of me obtaining food... all the scenarios, right down to getting glutened on the second day of the trial and not being able to hold my bowels or concentrate through court the next day...

It's embarrassing to consider explaining this to a judge in front of 30 people I'll probably never see again- and I'm not embarrassed by much. It's always a tough decision to risk explaining too much to someone who asks about the disease, and here I'm facing making sure it's real to complete strangers but also trying to ensure that it will be taken seriously, but not as grandstanding to get out of jury duty. There is a layer of pride too- that I should be able to be strong enough to endure in order to serve like a normal person, that I shouldn't let this affect my ability to live... I just don't know that that is possible when I have no control over my situation, and the last thing I want is to take the responsibility and then fail to see it through.

Of course it is certainly possible I won't even get called, which would be disappointing in it's own right, but in the mean time I've got three weeks to kill freaking out about all the possibilities and ramifications.

So has anyone else been through Jury Duty with allergies? Any suggestions besides dragging a loaf of Udi's and my best "Hot peppers, dish-soap and broken glass" elucidation with me?

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Bring your own food. Eat your own food.

It's worked for me any time I've been out of the house for any length of time covering a meal (including five day backpacking trips).

Can you explain why bringing your own food would be a problem? Many, MANY people pack lunches to work/school/etc. all the time.

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I was summoned and have been on one of twelve jury panels for the whole month of Jan. On Jan 4th,day one(orientation) we were told how things worked and what was expected. Every day after 5:00 we call a number and it would tell you if your panel had to go to court the next day. My panel was called on Jan. 7th and to my suprise I was selected for the jury. Both days I took my lunch. I was only there a few hours on orientation day and on the 7th I was there a total of 7 hours. I did pack enough food for two meals and informed the sherrif in charge of the jury that I would not be ordering food with the rest of the jurors (lunch was provided). The only thing I did was run my lunch cooler through the x-ray machine upon entering the courthouse. There was no problem with me doing this. I don't have the restrictions that you do, but I think with proper planning of taking your own food this is more than doable. If you are unsure call the court house and explain what you need and see if they have a problem with it. If they won't let you, then you may have to get a waiver signed by your physician to be exempt. I had never been summoned before and I found the opportunity to be very educational and interesting. I may have to go on Feb. 8th and I definately have to go on March 19th. The latter one we were told was a really big case so I will be taking a lot of food with me in case I am selected to sit on the jury. No harm done if I am not picked, but I plan as if I will be. Good luck!

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Can you explain why bringing your own food would be a problem? Many, MANY people pack lunches to work/school/etc. all the time.

I pack my own food all the time too. I know the drill- cold, pretoasted gluten-free bread sandwiches with cheese and margarine that hasn't been refrigerated for 10 hours, YUM. I carried both breakfast and lunch with me just this morning because I needed to take my truck in for service and didn't know how long I would be waiting. I guess I don't get your point, as stated I'm already expecting to cart a backpack full of gluten-free food with me, as I do, all the time, seemingly everywhere I go. Hell, at least I'll get to bring a cold pack with me, unlike the airport.

But the first day is just the usual inconvenience. There is no guarantee that I'll get to pack my lunches each day in my own kitchen. There is no guarantee that I'll get to come home for dinner, nor how long I'll be so occupied. It's possible that I'll be put in a position where I have absolutely NO CONTROL over my food sources, preparation or handling. That's scary as hell to me, no matter how remote the possibility, the possibility itself is terrifying.

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But the first day is just the usual inconvenience. There is no guarantee that I'll get to pack my lunches each day in my own kitchen. There is no guarantee that I'll get to come home for dinner, nor how long I'll be so occupied. It's possible that I'll be put in a position where I have absolutely NO CONTROL over my food sources, preparation or handling. That's scary as hell to me, no matter how remote the possibility, the possibility itself is terrifying.

Ah, that particular worry - that you'd be sequestered - wasn't clear.

You're right - it is REALLY unlikely that would ever happen. But let them know the problem - that being sequestered and not being able to get your own food (and prepare it) is a medical problem. I don't know the details, but I expect they would let someone bring you particular food, so if I were in that situation, I might pack up a bunch of backpacking food (no refrigeration needed) and have someone deliver it to me. But if you are sequestered, you'll have refrigeration.

But tell them your concern, and realize that the odds that you couldn't go home are virtually zero. There's probably just as much chance that you'll find yourself out and about in your normal life and not be able to get home (due to an accident, an emergency, or something else).

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It will really depend on the judge and the case.

Explain the situation. The judge will decide if he/she is willing to have unexpected breaks. If the case has any chance of sequestering the jury. (This is very rare.)

So long as you have the ability to sustain a gluten and allergen free diet you will be fine.

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Ah, that particular worry - that you'd be sequestered - wasn't clear.

You're right - it is REALLY unlikely that would ever happen. But let them know the problem - that being sequestered and not being able to get your own food (and prepare it) is a medical problem. I don't know the details, but I expect they would let someone bring you particular food, so if I were in that situation, I might pack up a bunch of backpacking food (no refrigeration needed) and have someone deliver it to me. But if you are sequestered, you'll have refrigeration.

But tell them your concern, and realize that the odds that you couldn't go home are virtually zero. There's probably just as much chance that you'll find yourself out and about in your normal life and not be able to get home (due to an accident, an emergency, or something else).

This is pretty good advice.....jury duty can be easily accommodated for almost anyone. Cold packs can be used in a lunch bag so there should be no problems bringing good food into the courthouse. In fact, your lunch will be far healthier than what most jurors get stuck eating.....sandwiches or pizza in my state.

As for being sequestered, that rarely happens anymore due to cost BUT if it did, that would a valid excuse for not serving. The court would never be able to provide gluten-free meals for 3 squares a day. I would just relax and see what happens. Most trials are one day affairs, and at the most, up to a week. But you would be going home at night and bringing in your own meals for the day so that should not be an issue. I had no problems with serving, as I did about a year ago, as I was not sequestered, and brought a better lunch in than everyone else had! Comments were made on how yummy my lunch looked...I guess it never occurred to anyone they could bring their own food!

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I spend a lot of time in court, and in my experience, sequestering a jury is VERY rare. It's normally only for really high profile trials, to keep them away from stuff being reported on the news. If you're not seeing anything on TV about "The XYZ trial is about to start jury selection!" odds of getting sequestered are microscopic.

That said, just in case, have a doctor's note prepared explaining Celiac and your dietary requirements. If it looks like the trial is going to require sequestering, explain that you have a medical condition and offer the note. People are excused from a jury for medical reasons all the time. It's really not a big deal. If it looks like you will be chosen for the jury, even if you will not be sequestered, explain that you have special dietary requirements and need to bring your own food, and offer the note, but state that you don't mind serving on the jury if they can accommodate you needing to bring your food. This is usually not a big deal. Diabetics do it all the time.

You are usually released for lunch while the trial is ongoing, and in most courthouses it's perfectly okay to take a packed lunch into the cafeteria and eat (or find a nice shady spot on the grounds), but during deliberations you are kept in the jury room and lunch is ordered in. Bringing your own food for medical reasons should not be a problem, and if the court can't accommodate this, they will release you from service if you have a doctor's note. While the trial is ongoing, you usually get an hour and a half for lunch (at least, that's how it is around here), which is plenty of time.

Hope that helps!

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I had very bad full-blown Celiac, diagnosed by blood tests, endoscopies, Enterolab, etc. My villi never fully healed, even after three years gluten free (last time I had an endoscopy).

I served three times, prior to diagnosis, and got called again last year. I simply obtained a note from my GI doctor, presented it to the County Clerk, where it was accepted. I ended up with a permanent exemption in New York State.

Here is the thread about my experience, and other posts on the subject:

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I haven't read all the replies line by line so forgive me if someone has mentioned this already. I was called for jury duty about 9 months ago. I simply asked my GI doc to write me a letter explaining why it would be a hardship for me to serve, which he promptly did. I sent this in with the reply form I received with the jury summons & was released. Problem solved. I would be surprised if there are any jurisdictions which don't have a provision for such cases, and I think most doctors are willing to help. If you're thinking you need to do your "civic duty", remember they do need someone who will be able to complete the job, and if you are not able to do so as a result of your condition, a great deal of time & expense will have been wasted.

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I haven't read all the replies line by line so forgive me if someone has mentioned this already. I was called for jury duty about 9 months ago. I simply asked my GI doc to write me a letter explaining why it would be a hardship for me to serve, which he promptly did. I sent this in with the reply form I received with the jury summons & was released. Problem solved. I would be surprised if there are any jurisdictions which don't have a provision for such cases, and I think most doctors are willing to help. If you're thinking you need to do your "civic duty", remember they do need someone who will be able to complete the job, and if you are not able to do so as a result of your condition, a great deal of time & expense will have been wasted.

David has a very important point. Celiac is a serious medical condition. Don't feel guilty about asking for an exemption. If you get sick easily from things, how are you going to stop a court proceeding to head to the bathroom? I would try for a doc's note first.

I was having a hard time attending church because the only bathroom was upstairs and across the building. I didn't go for a couple of months because of it while I was healing and in the bathroom all the time. Thankfully, they added a downstairs easy to get to bathroom and it was completed in the time that I was missing it. For us, bathroom access IS a medical need. If I have to go, whether it's just to pee or do other things and I don't get to the bathroom I get dizzy spells.

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Just wondering about a couple of things...

1. I am self diagnosed gluten intolerant, with my doctor's knowledge. I went gluten free for several months before she and I discussed it, so testing was a moot point. Since I don't have actual test results to back me up, do you think that will be a problem in getting a jury exemption? I've been gluten-free for 15 months. (but who's counting, anyway?)

2. Also, do the courts have to accept a doctor's note, or can they fling it back at you and say "too bad, sit down and be quiet"?

I am scheduled for jury duty next month.

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If you truly are ill enough that you can't sit for a trial, tell the judge you'll need to use the toilet every 30 minutes, or whatever your restriction is, and see what happens.

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Just wondering about a couple of things...

1. I am self diagnosed gluten intolerant, with my doctor's knowledge. I went gluten free for several months before she and I discussed it, so testing was a moot point. Since I don't have actual test results to back me up, do you think that will be a problem in getting a jury exemption? I've been gluten-free for 15 months. (but who's counting, anyway?)

2. Also, do the courts have to accept a doctor's note, or can they fling it back at you and say "too bad, sit down and be quiet"?

I am scheduled for jury duty next month.

If the "court" told you to suck it up, I would make sure that the lawyers on both sides saw the note. They will ask you in front of everyone questions like: Do you know the parties involved? What do you think of tattoos (if the defendent has lots?) Is there a reason you can not serve? (Saw a potential juror ask to have that question repeated 3 times & both sides dismissed him). This would be a good time to explain you have a medical issue & the baliff or judge said tough luck. Neither lawyer will want someone who is upset with the court system.

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Just wondering about a couple of things...

1. I am self diagnosed gluten intolerant, with my doctor's knowledge. I went gluten free for several months before she and I discussed it, so testing was a moot point. Since I don't have actual test results to back me up, do you think that will be a problem in getting a jury exemption? I've been gluten-free for 15 months. (but who's counting, anyway?)

2. Also, do the courts have to accept a doctor's note, or can they fling it back at you and say "too bad, sit down and be quiet"?

I am scheduled for jury duty next month.

I don't really think the courts are allowed to negate a doctors note. If a doctor excuses you, then that's usually final. In New York, for example you bring the note to the Country Clerk office. I'd recommend reading the instructions that they sent you, and if the issue isn't addressed, call them and find out the procedure. Your doctor may even know, if he's done this before. Don't wait until the last minute, do it ASAP. Good luck!

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Just wondering about a couple of things...

1. I am self diagnosed gluten intolerant, with my doctor's knowledge. I went gluten free for several months before she and I discussed it, so testing was a moot point. Since I don't have actual test results to back me up, do you think that will be a problem in getting a jury exemption? I've been gluten-free for 15 months. (but who's counting, anyway?)

2. Also, do the courts have to accept a doctor's note, or can they fling it back at you and say "too bad, sit down and be quiet"?

I am scheduled for jury duty next month.

Never say never, but it would be hard for me to imagine them ever questioning the word of a citizen's physician. Suppose they did and forced you onto the jury, and something terrible happened. The repercussions could be severe. No single selected individual is indispensable. It's a big deal to the potential juror, but they have a whole pool to select from. Why incur the risk of having someone on the jury who might scuttle the whole proceeding by becoming ill? Again, I did not have too show up anywhere, I simply sent my note in the with my initial reply form, appropriately filled out to indicate I was requesting deferment based on health reasons, and a week or so later I got a letter back saying OK. Don't sweat it, it's really no big deal.

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Thanks to everyone for your replies and support. I called my doctor's office and requested a letter to excuse me from jury duty. I hope she will comply. I'm rarely deathly ill, but I never know when the fibro or the gluten issues will strike. Does make it difficult to make plans, especially for situations I can't control enough. Cross your fingers for me! :blink:

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but I never know when the fibro or the gluten issues will strike.

Fibro AND gluten. Oh boy, can I relate. Good luck, Beth.

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Fibro AND gluten. Oh boy, can I relate. Good luck, Beth.

you, too, David? I'm sorry! thanks for the good wishes.

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you, too, David? I'm sorry! thanks for the good wishes.

I've had FMS since I was in my early 20's, the gut thing only started about 15 months ago. I'm trying gluten free, though I haven't been "officially" diagnosed. I thought the fibro was bad (and it is)? This is worse, at least in my case. I wonder if that's also your experience? I'm hoping MAYBE the whole thing is gluten, so far, it's not clear. Anyway, nice to not be in this boat alone :D

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I've had FMS since I was in my early 20's, the gut thing only started about 15 months ago. I'm trying gluten free, though I haven't been "officially" diagnosed. I thought the fibro was bad (and it is)? This is worse, at least in my case. I wonder if that's also your experience? I'm hoping MAYBE the whole thing is gluten, so far, it's not clear. Anyway, nice to not be in this boat alone :D

Indeed, it's good not to be alone in dealing with this stuff. I finally got my FMS diagnosis after the usual round of disbelieving MD's, maybe 15 or 20 years ago, I've lost track. A year ago January I decided on my own, without testing, to try the gluten free route, hoping for a miracle. It didn't happen. However, some fibro symptoms are lessened without gluten, such as the brain fog. I tried adding a wee bit back into my diet recently, resulting in not only some gastric distress, but muscle and joint pain in the extreme. NOT worth it. I have more of the less common reactions, which makes things even more confusing. I'm not celiac, but there's a definite correlation of gluten intolerance there. Or maybe just wheat? I am afraid to try the barley and rye. I really wanted that miracle, though... :(

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