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Why Is Jury Service Important?
Click Here For The 2016 Jury Handbook
The United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution
guarantee all people, regardless of race, religion, sex, national
origin, or economic status, the right to trial by an impartial jury.
Justice ultimately depends to a large measure upon the quality of
the jurors who serve in our courts.
What Is My Duty As A Juror?
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. Your actions and
decisions must be free of any bias or prejudice. Your actions and
decisions are the foundation of our judicial system.
How Was I Selected?
You were selected at random from a list of voter registrations
and a list of driver registrations from the county in which you
Am I Eligible?
To be qualified to serve as a juror you must:
Be at least 18 years of age
Be a citizen of this state and a resident of the county in which you are to serve as a juror
Be qualified under the Constitution and laws to vote in the county in which you are to serve as a juror
(Note: You do not have to be registered to vote to be qualified to vote)
Be of sound mind and good moral character
Be able to read and write
Not have served as a juror for six days during the preceding three months in the county court or
during the preceding six months in the district court
Not have been convicted of, or be under indictment or other legal accusation for, misdemeanor theft or a felony
You cannot serve on a jury if:
You have been convicted of a felony or of any type of theft
(unless rights have been restored)
You are now on probation or deferred adjudication for a felony or
for any type of theft; or
You are now under indictment for a felony or are now under
criminal charges for any type of theft.
If you are in doubt, or think you may not be qualified to serve on a
jury for one of the above or any other reasons, please notify the
Who Can Be Excused From Jury Service?
You are entitled to be excused as a juror if you:
Are over 70 years of age
You have legal custody of a child or children younger thana 12 years of age and service on the jury would
require leaving the child or children without adequate supervision
You are a student at a public or private high school.
You are enrolled and in actual attendance at an institution of higher education
You are an officer or employee of The Senate, The House of Representatives, or any department, commission, board,
office or other angency in the legislative branch of state government
You are the primary caretaker of a person who is unble to care for himself or herself.(This exemption does not
apply to you if you are a primary caretaker only in your capacity as a health care worker.)
You are a member of the United States military forces serving on active duty and deployed to a location away from
your home station and out of your county of residence
What Are The Different Types Of Cases?
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil
(including family cases).
A criminal case results when a person is accused of committing a
crime. You, as a juror, must decide whether the person charged is
guilty or not guilty. The accused person is presumed innocent, and
the State, represented by the District or County Attorney, must
prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two
or more parties. In a civil case, you, as a juror, must answer
questions of disputed facts based upon the testimony and evidence
admitted by the judge. The answers to these questions are called the
Will I Be Paid For Being A Juror?
Yes. You will be paid a minimum of $6.00 for the first day you
actually serve on the jury and $40.00 for every additional day.
Must My Employer Pay Me While I Am On Jury Duty?
Your employer is not required to pay you while on jury duty;
however, employers are prohibited by law from firing an employee for
serving as a juror.
Who Can Have A Jury Trial?
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party to a
civil case has a right to a jury trial. All parties are equal before
the law and each is entitled to the same fair treatment.
Are There Rules About Jury Conduct?
Yes. The Texas Supreme Court has rules to assist you in your
conduct as a juror, which will be given to you by the judge.
How Is A Juror Selected For A Particular Case?
Cases will usually be heard by juries of 6 or 12 jurors. A
larger group, called a panel, will be sent to the trial court
(courtroom) where the jurors will be questioned under the
supervision of the judge.
A juror may be excused from the panel if it is shown that the juror
cannot act impartially concerning the case to be heard. In addition,
each side is allowed to remove a given number of jurors from the
panel without having to show any reason. The trial jury will be the
first 6 or 12 of the remaining jurors on the panel.
What Is Voir Dire Or Questioning Of The Jury Panel?
It is a way for the parties to select a fair and impartial jury.
Under the justice system, you may be questioned by each of the
lawyers before they decide to remove a certain number of jurors from
the jury panel.
For example, the lawyer may ask you questions to see if you are
connected to the trial or if you have any prejudice or bias toward
anyone in the trial. These questions are not intended to embarrass
you, but rather to help the lawyers in the jury selection process.
You may ask the judge to allow you to answer some questions away
from the other jurors.
What If I Have A Special Need or Emergency?
After you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, if you
have a special need or an emergency, tell the bailiff.
Order Of Events Of The Trial
Opening Statements: The lawyers for each side may explain
the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for you to
Presentation of Evidence: The evidence consists of the
testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge.
Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for
examination during deliberations. You have a right to ask for them.
You will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts;
therefore, your attention at all times is critically important.
Juror notetaking or the use of any notes will be determined by the
Rulings by the Judge: The judge may be asked to decide
questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the judge may ask
jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal
arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are
needed to make sure that their verdict is based upon proper
evidence, as determined by the judge under the Rules of Evidence.
You may give the evidence whatever weight you consider appropriate.
Instructions to the Jury: At the close of all the evidence,
the judge may submit to the jury the Charge of the Court. This will
include legal instructions on this particular case and the questions
that the jury is to answer from the evidence admitted.
Closing Arguments: After the Charge of the Court, the lawyers
have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing
arguments and to try to persuade the jury to accept their client's
view of the case.
Deliberations and Verdict of the Jury: Following closing
arguments, the jury is sent to deliberate. When the jury has
answered the questions asked of them they shall return their
verdict. The verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented
by the parties, the Charge of the Court, and the rules of law
provided by the judge.
When In Doubt, Ask The Judge: You have the right to
communicate with the judge regarding any matters affecting your
deliberations, including but not limited to:
any questions regarding evidence; or
the Charge of the Court
During deliberation, if it becomes necessary to communicate with the
judge, the bailiff or the officer of the court will deliver jurors'
notes to the judge. The information in this Handbook is not intended
to take the place of the instructions given by the judge in any
case. In the event of conflict, the judge's instructions will
Note: Not all of these rules apply in Justice or Municipal
Courts. This handbook was originally created with a grant from the
Texas Bar Foundation. For reprint information call the State Bar of
Texas at 1-800-204-2222.