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A Trial Lawyer on What to Wear to Get Out of Jury Duty

It’s not so much about the type of clothes, but how disheveled you can make them look

Devising ridiculous ways to get out of jury duty has long been a sitcom trope. Maybe the best recent example: The episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) dresses up as Princess Leia — while clinging to an issue of Playgirl — in hopes of circumventing her civic responsibility. 

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That, of course, is more for comedic effect than reality. But still, given the dread that accompanies the letter notifying you that you have to report for jury duty — as well as the idea of actually having to serve on a jury — is there something you can wear to get yourself dismissed with as little time spent at the courthouse as humanly possible?

For starters, Ron Zambrano, an attorney in L.A. with West Coast Trial Lawyers, tells me that there’s no doubt that the way you dress will impact whether or not he’s gonna choose you to be part of his jury. “It sends a subliminal message,” he explains. “If a person comes in with business-casual attire, that tells me that they’re potentially more educated.” Not to mention, he adds, it indicates that you take good care of yourself and pay attention to the details — a crucial trait that Zambrano looks for in a juror. And yes, that all means what you think it does — he will seriously contemplate selecting you for his case. 

If you come in looking like the exact opposite, however — dressed sloppily, hair a mess, etc. — “I’m probably going to dismiss you,” Zambrano says. “Unpredictability isn’t good for the jury process.” 

As for the Liz Lemon Method, somewhat surprisingly, Zambrano advises against it. Same for wearing a T-shirt with some sort of “lightning-rod” ideology on it. “In a criminal case, you might get dismissed immediately,” he says. But in any other instance, he explains that all you’re doing is drawing attention to yourself. “If I see someone with a MAGA hat or something, I’m going to ask them to elaborate on their opinions on certain things,” Zambrano tells me. “You’re inviting me to basically say, ‘Let’s talk about this some more.’”

Therefore, his sartorial advice in such matters is very simple — just show up with your sweater on backward. Not only are you unlikely to get picked, but there’s almost no chance an attorney will grill you about why you’re wearing your sweater that way. 

Case, as they say, closed.

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