The information below represents the most common questions asked regarding a Jury Summons.
- Why is jury service important?
- 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 and motor vehicle registrations from Bell County.
- Am I eligible to serve on a jury?
- Jurors must:
- Be a Citizen of the United States and of this State;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Reside in Bell County;
- Be able to read, write and communicated in the English language;
- 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.
- 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 12 years of age and jury service would leave the child unsupervised;
- Are a student at a public or private high school;
- Are enrolled and in actual attendance at an institution of higher education;
- 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;
- 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 communicate in English (must provide a signed doctors statement to the court);
- Served as a juror in a jury trial in this county in the past 24 months prior to the date you are required to appear on your jury summons.
- What are the different types of cases?
- There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil (including family cases).
- Criminal Case
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 guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
- Civil Case
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 verdict.
- Will I be paid for being a juror?
- Yes. 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 you serve on jury duty. However, employers are prohibited 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. Click here for the rules of the courtroom.
- 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 courtroom where they will all 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 court deputy.