Jury Duty 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, national origin or economic status.
- 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.
- You were selected at random from a list of voter registrations and a list of driver registrations from the county in which you live.
Jurors must be:
- a citizen of the United States.
- a resident of the City of Cedar Hill.
- at least 18 years of age.
- able to read and write the English language.
- of sound mind.
- 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.
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.
There is a penalty for jurors failing to respond to a summons. A juror may be fined up to $100 if he: 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, 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. Note: Municipal Court does not hear civil cases.
- Yes. If you are selected to serve on the jury, you will be paid $6.00 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 intends 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 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.
- A court session begins when the Judge takes his or her place on the bench and the bailiff announces the opening of court. A similar procedure is used when court adjourns. Please act with common courtesy and politeness while in the courtroom. You will not be permitted to use electronic devices or read newspapers or magazines in the courtroom, nor should you carry on a conversation with another juror in the courtroom during the trial.
You will be treated with consideration and your comfort and convenience will be served whenever possible. If there is an emergency or a matter affecting your service, you should bring it to the attention of the Judge. In the event of a personal emergency, notify the Judge through any court personnel, or you may ask to see the Judge privately.
You must give close attention to the testimony. You are sworn to disregard your prejudices and follow the Court’s instructions by rendering a verdict according to your best judgment. You should keep an open mind. Human experience shows that, once a person comes to a preliminary conclusion to a set of facts, they hesitate to change their view.
Similarly, jurors should not discuss the case even among themselves until it is finally concluded. Therefore, it is wise for you not even to attempt to make up your mind on the facts of a case until all the evidence has been presented to you, and you have been instructed on the law applicable to the case.
- Also keep in mind that proper clothing is required. All persons entering the courtroom should be dressed in clothing reasonably befitting the dignity and solemnity of the courtroom proceedings (e.g., hats, shorts, tank tops, or t-shirts are not permitted).
- After you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, if you have a special need or an emergency, tell the bailiff.