Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 at 11:57 am
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 live.
Am I Eligible?
- Be a citizen of the United States and of this State.
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Reside in the county of jury service.
- Be able to read and write.
- Be of sound mind.
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.
Who Can Be Excused From Jury Service?
You are entitled to be excused as a juror if you:
- Are over 70 years of age;
- Have legal custody of a child under 12 years of age and jury service would leave the child unsupervised;
- Are a student in class;
- Are the caretaker of a person who is unable to care for themselves (an invalid); or
- Can show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend or to communicate in English.
Will I Be Paid For Being A Juror?
Yes. In Harris County, you will be paid a minimum of $6.00 for each day you actually serve on the jury.
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.
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:
- physical comfort;
- special needs;
- 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 prevail.