I have been asked to do jury duty. As I follow a Buddhist philosophy of Ahimsa, no-harm, I feel conflicted. If I vote guilty, and the defendant is not, I would feel guilty myself. If he/she is guilty, and I vote to acquit, likewise I would feel guilty. So I will be asked to be excused on religious grounds. Is this a valid reason for me to be excused?

Thank you, Thomas Ramsay.

  • In which country?
    – ChrisW
    Jun 26, 2019 at 23:22
  • You're judging their guilt or innocence, not punishing them or deciding their fate, so I don't see a serious problem. Jury duty seems fine. Not so sure about the judge. The Sufi's say 'To make a man a judge is to kill him without a knife'. .
    – user14119
    Jun 27, 2019 at 12:05

5 Answers 5


Regardless of the person's guilt if give a verdict the karmic result will follow.

Beaing a ruler, judge or juror from a karmic stand point is not advisable. Temiya Jataka would be of interest where a price tried hard not to be king as this would mean you have to judge others and even be at war.

So getting excused would be a good option.

  • So this would mean as a lay person you would go through life without making any judgements, what if you're a hiring manager and choosing one person over the other meant the one wouldn't be able to support his family because you didn't give him a job? Would there be a karmic consequence of that as well?
    – m2015
    Jun 28, 2019 at 1:43
  • Every volition backed action has an karmic concequance. Also in life you cannot totally having to take action in every situation. It all boils down to what your level of resolve is to not making decremental karmic actions. In the case of Prince Temiya it was a very High bar. Jun 28, 2019 at 13:17
  • I see no reason why a good decision by a juror should not have positive karmic consequences, and where it is a selfless one it may have no consequences. The alternative would be scrap juries, and this does not seem like a good idea.
    – user14119
    Oct 17, 2019 at 14:56

Just follow the laws that are there. If you are unsure about guilt or innocence say so. Even monks and nuns stand in judgement over one another when they commit an offense and there is a consequence for it. If you find the person broke law but are uncomfortable with the consequences i.e., sentence, ask to be excused. But even senior monks have a responsibility to judge monks who broke the rules and generally speaking citizens have the same responsibility.

  • Thank you for your insightful comments. Jun 28, 2019 at 0:58

This question is unrelated to Buddhism but related to the laws of your land.

I recommend to write to the Court Clerk exactly what you wrote here. They will probably regard you as unfit or too sensitive for jury duty.

I feel conflicted. If I vote guilty, and the defendant is not, i would feel guilty myself. If he/she is guilty, and I vote to acquit, likewise i would feel guilty

If you wish to sound more freaky, include the following:

49. As a bee gathers honey from the flower without injuring its color or fragrance, even so the sage goes on his alms-round in the village.

50. Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone.


Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.

Kakacupama Sutta: The Simile of the Saw

Who knows the difference between them except a Realized One?

So, Ānanda, don’t be judgmental about people. Don’t pass judgment on people. Those who pass judgment on people harm themselves.

I (The Buddha), or someone like me, may pass judgment on people.

AN 6.44


That's a good question. As a JD, I would tell you that the purpose of a jury is for America to live up to its promise of a fair trial, so no one should technically be obligated to sit on the jury, if they choose not to. Citing religious grounds is legally fair.

As a Buddhist, I'd say participate to learn about your own legal system, without which you may harm another as well. But inform them that your religion does not allow you to convict another and so will not vote.


yes it is not easy to deal with all the moronic rules invented by puthujjanas. Generally those puthujjanas hate that people do not follow their rules, they will claim that the only way that your refusal will comply with their ways is to follow the various punishments applied when they think there is an infringement to their rules.

You can try to see what punishment they have prepared when you do not follow what they call ''jury duty'' and if you think you can handle it, by being mindful as usual like when you are bullied and hurt https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.143.than.html , just take their ways. this way you refusal will comply to their rules and those puthujjanas will say that the suffering they inflicted upon you paid for the offense you caused them by not doing what they want you to do. [puthujjanas love to make people suffer when they think people do not follow their rules]

if you still are on the jury try to follow their rules as much as you can while never lying. Be honest that you do not know if the person is guilty of infringement or not.

You can ask them ''why does it matter if this person is guilty of infringement or not'? what is the point of judging this person? what is achieved by punishing this person if this person you found this person guilty of infringing you rules?'' but puthujjanas hate to question their ways, especially the judges, policemen and lawmakers, since they already think they are righteous, so be careful with that.

here is the story of a ''tibetan buddhist'' about his jury duty https://tricycle.org/magazine/called-jury-duty/

There is a good comment here too https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/4yluel/jury_duty/

Be honest with them during the selection process about your reservations and how your beliefs might influence your decision in a case. Your admitted hesitance in even convicting someone you believe is guilty is, at the very least, something they deserve to know. The fact that your religious convictions come before "justice" could very well disqualify you anyway.

  • 1
    The contempt you have for puthujjanas must be difficult for you. I'd rather you didn't express it on a Buddhist forum in case visitors conclude Buddhist generally have this attitude. . .
    – user14119
    Jun 27, 2019 at 12:26
  • Thank you for this wisdom. I dont have contempt for anyone, as I try to be mindful that each has a right to his/her own view. I have expressed my view on this situation. Jun 28, 2019 at 0:56

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