Editor’s Note: This information was originally published in the February 2005 issue of the Texas Bar Journal. The child age exemption was 10 at the time of publication; it has since been changed to 12. The information included in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult an attorney regarding specific legal questions.
The U.S. 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. As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. 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 Texas;
- be at least 18 years of age;
- reside in the county of jury service;
- be able to read and write; and
- 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);
- are now on probation or deferred adjudication for a felony or for any type of theft; or
- 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 10 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 or can show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend or to communicate in English; or
- are a member of the U.S. military serving on active duty and deployed to a location away from your home station and out of your country of resident.
Will I be paid for being a juror?
Yes. You will be paid a minimum of $6 for each day you actually serve on the jury.
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 six 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 six or 12 of the remaining jurors on the panel.
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.
Can I communicate with 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.
Note: Not all of these rules apply in justice or municipal courts.
The above information is adapted from the brochure “Texas Uniform Jury Handbook,” prepared by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and published by the State Bar of Texas. You can download a PDF of the brochure here, and print and distribute as desired. For additional resources, go to texasbar.com/juryservice.