justice---jury-service-banner.jpeg

Jury Service

The 216th District Court jury panel scheduled for Monday April, 22 2024 has been CANCELLED. You DO NOT need to report.

198th and 216th District Courts:
Call 830-896-7336 24 HOURS PRIOR TO REPORTING.
For questions, call 830-792-2290.

Kerr County Court at Law:
Call 830-792-2269 24 HOURS PRIOR TO REPORTING.
For questions, call 830-792-2207.

JURY SUMMONS RESPONSE (click here to respond electronically to a jury summons)

Have You Been Summoned?

Here's What You May Want to Know About Jury Duty

"Doing Justice for Texas" - A short PBS video from PBS encouraging Texans to report for jury service in an effort to preserve our rights.

The American Juror - The Decision is Yours - A site dedicated to informing Texas citizens about jury service. It includes information on everything from how juries are selected to a breakdown of fact vs. fiction to tips on the trial process and how you should report as a juror, as well as some explanations of court-related terminology.

Jury Service as a Civic Duty and a Privilege - This site from the Texas Judicial Branch offers all kinds of information that might be of interest to potential jurors and their employers. Included is information on what to expect your first day, compensation, an employer's rights and responsibilities, qualifications for and exemptions from jury service and more.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Jury Service

Texas Uniform Jury Handbook

As Authorized by Chapter 23 of the Government Code

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, in large extend, on 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 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 registrations and a list of driver registrations from the county in which you live.

Am I eligible to serve as a juror?

+-

Jurors must meet certain qualifications in order to serve. They must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States and of Texas.

  • Be at least 18 years of age.

  • Reside in the county of jury service.

  • Be able to read, write and communicate in English.

  • Be of sound mind.

What are some things that exclude someone from jury service?

+-

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.

  • 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 clerk or bailiff.

Hardship Excuses

The judge may give you an opportunity to discuss any individual personal hardships that jury service may cause to you, according to Texas Government Code 62.110. The court has the discretion to hear any reasonable sworn excuse of a prospective juror and either release the juror from jury service or reschedule the juror's jury service for another day. However, the court may not excuse a juror for an economic reason unless each party of record is present and approves the release. Listen for the judge to give you instructions about when to come forward to discuss your need to be excused based on some hardship.

Who can be excused from jury service?

+-

There are certain stipulations that will allow an individual to be excused from jury duty. These include if the potential juror is:

  • Over 70 years of age.

  • Someone who has legal custody of a child under 12 years of age and jury service would leave the child unsupervised.

  • A student in class.

  • 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.

  • The caretaker of a person who is unable to care for themselves (an invalid).

  • Able to show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend or to communicate in English.

Any advice about the first day?

+-

Reporting to jury duty can be intimidating, especially for first-timers. Do not worry, though. There will be well-trained court personnel available to assist you and to answer any questions you may have regarding jury service.

A brief orientation will be given in the courtroom or in the jury assembly room regarding your potential service. Listen carefully and follow the instructions given. With your cooperation and attention to detail, the jury selection process will run smoother and be completed more quickly.

On Your First Day...

  • Be sure you know where you are supposed to report. Carefully review the instructions included with your summons. If you have questions, contact the judge's or clerks' offices.

  • You should dress to show respect for the court. Because you may serve on a jury that same first day you report, you should wear clothing reasonably befitting the dignity and solemnity of court proceedings. Be aware that local judges may restrict certain attire, such as shorts, cutoffs, sleeveless shirts, sandals and/or hats. While choosing attire that is appropriate for a courtroom, also keep in mind your comfort since you might be in the courthouse the entire day. You might consider bringing a light jacket or sweater in case you find the temperature in the courthouse too cool.

  • Bring money. You may need money to pay for snacks, lunch or incidentals.

  • Jury duty frequently involves waiting, so bring something to read to help you pass the time.

  • Be aware you will likely be asked to shut off cellphones before entering the jury room or courtroom.

  • Expect to go through some type of security screening as you enter the courtroom, such as an x-ray unit or metal detection device. Weapons are prohibited in court, and that includes pointed items, such as pocket knives or knitting needles. Anything considered to be a weapon or that is deemed unacceptable by the security officers will be confiscated.

What are the different types of cases?

+-

There are two basic types of cases in which jury trials are conducted:

  • Criminal

  • Civil (including family cases.)

Criminal 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 guilty. The accused person is presumed innocent, and the State of Texas, represented by the district attorney or county attorney, must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Civil Cases

A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two or more parties. In a civil trial, 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 serving on a jury?

+-

Yes. According to the Texas Judicial Branch, an individual who reports for jury duty will be paid no less than $6 for the first day of service or the portion of the first day that is served. The rate of pay is then no less than $50 for each day or fraction of a day served after the first day.

Some courts may choose to provide additional forms of compensation or reimbursement, including:

  • free public transportation.

  • mileage reimbursement.

  • transportation cost reimbursement.

  • free parking.

  • child-care facilities.

  • free meals.

The court will provide you with information regarding the existence and extent of any of these programs.

Charitable Contributions

When you check in for jury service, you and other prospective jurors will be given the option of donating your juror pay to certain local or state charitable causes. If that is what you decide to do, you may sign a form that allows the county treasurer to donate your reimbursement for jury service to a designed charity or fund, which should include the following:

  • The Texas Crime Victim's Compensation Fund.

  • Kerr County's Child Welfare Board

  • A designated local family violence shelter

  • Any other program(s) approved by the local commissioners' court.

By law, does my employer have to pay me while I am on jury duty?

+-

Your employer is not required to pay you for the time you spend serving on a jury. That said, the law prevents employers from firing any employee who serves 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. These rules will be given to you by the judge.

What if I fail to respond to a jury summons or give incorrect information to get out of serving?

+-

The consequences of not appearing for jury service or falsely claiming an exemption can involve a fine, contempt of court and/or criminal penalties.

Not responding to a summons...

A person who receives a summons for jury service and who does not respond as directed by that summons is subject to a contempt action that is punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000, according to Texas Government Code 62.0141.

Failure to attend court or filing a false exemption...

According to Texas Government Code 62.111, a juror who is lawfully notified to attend court is subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 if that juror either:

  • Fails to obediently attend court without a reasonable excuse.

  • Files a false claim of exemption from jury service.

If you have questions about your jury summons or jury duty, please contact the appropriate court or judge as indicated on the jury summons.

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 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. However, a juror may not be removed because of his or her race or gender.

What is "voir dire" or questioning of the jury panel?

+-

This is a method that allows 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 bailiff.

May I discuss the case after it is over?

+-

After you are discharged from jury service, you are released from the obligation of secrecy. You will then be free to discuss the case and your deliberations with anyone. However, you are also free to decline to discuss the case and your deliberations if you wish.

Order of events of a trial

+-

Opening Statements

First, the lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present and the issues that the jurors will decide.

Presentation of Evidence

The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge. Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations. You have a right to ask for them. You will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts; therefore, your attention at all times is critically important. Juror note-taking or the submission of questions by jurors to witnesses will be determined by the judge.

Rulings By the Judge

The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their verdict is based upon proper evidence, as determined by the judge under the rules of evidence. You may give the evidence whatever weight you consider appropriate.

Instructions to the Jury

At the close of all the evidence, the judge may submit to the jury the "Charge of the Court." This will include legal instructions on this particular case and the questions that the jury is to answer from the evidence admitted.

Closing Arguments

After the Charge of the Court, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments and to try to persuade the jury to accept their client's view of the case.

Deliberations and Verdict of the Jury

Following closing arguments, you will be sent with the rest of your fellow jurors to deliberate. When the jury has answered the questions asked of them it shall return its collective verdict. The verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented by the parties, the Charge of the Court, and the rules of law provided by the judge.

When in doubt, ask the judge...

+-

As a juror, you have the right to communicate with the judge regarding any matters affecting your deliberations, including but not limited to:

  • 1) Physical comfort.

  • 2) Special needs.

  • 3) Any questions regarding evidence.

  • 4) 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. The information in this document is not intended to take the place of the instructions given by the judge in any case. In the event of conflict, the judge's instructions will prevail.