Most people either love or hate jury duty in Texas—few people have mixed feelings about it. Depending on your schedule and interest in criminal trials, it can either be a fascinating look at our justice system or an exercise in boredom and futility. (This usually occurs when the juror realizes that Law & Order has lied to them about trials being dramatic, at least most of the time.) Perhaps you’ve never been called for jury duty and you’re not sure what to expect.
Who can be called for jury duty?
Any United States citizen 18 years of age or older can be called for jury duty in their respective state, including Texas. Texas jury duty laws require you to be a Texas resident in the county in which you were called. You’ll also need to be eligible to vote, “of sound mind and good moral character” and not be currently accused of a crime yourself. Finally, you need to be able to read, write and speak English—it serves no one if you’re not able to follow what’s happening at trial.
What to expect from the selection process
First, jurors are summoned from the jury pool of all eligible residents in the county. This is created from voter rolls and state identification lists.
Jury selection is called “voir dire,” and it’s so important that reams of scholarly articles and books have been written on the subject. The goal is to find people who will be neutral—or sympathetic to your case—and to dismiss anyone who is showing unfair biases. In service of that goal, the attorneys and judge will ask each juror a series of questions. The questions are designed to ferret out anyone who cannot judge the case fairly. This is also the time that judges will dismiss potential jurors with valid excuses.
If you’re not selected as a juror, that’s the end of the process. You’re free to go home or back to your normal job. If, however, you are selected, you’ll be given a trial date and a set of instructions to follow.
Do I really have to show up?
Everyone knows a friend of a friend who just “didn’t show up” to jury duty and somehow got away with it. However, it’s best if you don’t attempt the same feat. If you fail to appear for selection, you could face a fine of up to $1,000, and if you lie about not being able to serve or don’t show up to the trial, the fines go up by as much as $500. It’s best to just do your civic duty.
There’s good news, though: you’ll get paid for your service, and once you serve on a jury for 6 days or more, you won’t be called for another two years.
If you have questions about jury duty rules in Texas and are concerned you might be in violation, call the Law Office of Rob Biggers today. We offer criminal defense as well as a wide variety of other legal services.
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Categorised in: General Legal Questions