Jury Service Q&A
Why is Jury Service important?
The United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution guarantee all people the right to trial by an impartial jury of their peers, regardless of race, religion, sex, nation origin or economic status.
What is my duty as a Juror?
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. Your actions and decisions must also be free of any bias or prejudice because your actions and decisions are the foundation of our judicial system.
Jurors must be:
- A citizen of the United States.
- A resident of the City of Hondo.
- At least 18 years of age.
- Able to read and write the English language.
- Of sound mind.
You cannot serve on a jury if you:
- Have been convicted of a felony or of any type of theft offense (unless your 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.
- 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 judge.
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 (an invalid); or
- Can show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend to communicate in English.
There is a penalty for jurors failing to respond to summons. A juror may be fined up to $100 if he/she: 1) fails to attend court in disobedience to the notice without reasonable excuse; or 2) files a false claim of exemption from jury service.
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. The accused person is presumed innocent and the State, represented by the city prosecutor, must prove the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two or more private parties. In a civil case, you, 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 verdict. Note: Municipal Court does not hear civil cases.
Will I be paid for being a Juror?
Yes. You will be paid $6.00 for appearing for the jury “venire” or pool and if you are selected, to serve on the jury, $10 for each day you actually serve.
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. An employee whose employment is terminated in violation of this section is entitled to return to the same employment that was held when summoned for jury service if the employee, as soon as practical after release from jury service, gives the employer actual notice that the employee plans to return. (Civil Practice and Remedies Code, section 122.001).
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.
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 be heard by juries of 6 jurors. A larger group, called a panel, will be sent to the trial court (courtroom) where the jurors will be questioned (Voir Dire Process) 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 of the remaining jurors on the 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.
After you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, if you have a special need or an emergency, tell the bailiff.
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