New law makers it easier for elderly to opt out of jury duty

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico residents 75 and older can easily decline to participate in jury trials by calling a court office or using an online option, under legislation signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Administrative Office of the Courts announced Wednesday that excusals can be requested online through the state’s jury website or by phoning a local court starting June 18.

Previous law required a sworn, notarized statement. People 75 and older are still welcome to serve on juries.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Vigil says courts lobbied for the changes to improve efficiency and as a measure of convenience for seniors who currently may be concerned about COVID-19.

About 150,000 residents of New Mexico are eligible. Excusals can be requested after an individual has been summoned to jury duty.

The changes were sponsored by state Rep. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo and Sen. Liz Stefanics of Santa Fe, both Democrats.