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The best way to get out of jury duty? Use the recession as an excuse! Kindly explain to the judge that you're already having difficulty making ends meet and if you're forced to take off any additional time, you may very well lose your home. (Mentioning you also happen to be a single parent and you take care of your sick aunt isn't such a bad idea either.) You may just find yourself in front of a judge like the one interviewed in today's Times, who says he's doing his best to "be sensitive to the economic times" and has been dismissing prospective jurors who can't afford to be there. If you're unemployed, however, it's a whole different story.

In that case, you should hope and pray you get assigned to a case that stretches for weeks or months, since jury service in NYC comes with a $40 daily stipend. As Norman Goodman, the county clerk for Manhattan, points out, "It's not going to get you into Tiffany's, but it's something."

It sure is! And if you get assigned to a really high-profile case such as the Brooke Astor trial which is now entering its fourth month—each juror has collected roughly $3,520 so far—there may be even more cash to come. Play your cards right and you should have a book deal when all is said and done.

Call to Jury Duty Strikes Fear of Financial Ruin [NYT]