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Jury Information


Table of Contents

General Information

Introduction

To Have a Jury Trial, There Must Be a Jury

Jury Selection Process

Exemptions

Non-Allowable Exemptions

Jury Duty and Your Job

Statutory Qualifications

Tips to Make Your Jury Service More Enjoyable

Come Prepared

Dress the Part

What Your Jury Service Involves

Where To Go Once You've Arrived at the Courthouse

What To Expect

Getting Paid for Jury Service

You've Been Selected for a Jury -- What Now?

A Day in the Life of a Juror

Trial procedures

Opening Statements

Presentation of Evidence

Rulings by the Judge

Instruction to the Jury

Closing Arguments

Jury Deliberations and Decision

Sequestered Juries

Still Have Questions?


General Information

The Jury Services Dept accepts calls Monday and Tuesday from 1:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. and Wednesday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Our metro number is (940)349-2230.

Introduction

Did you know that a citizen's right to a trial by jury can be traced back to both the United States Constitution and the Texas Declaration of Independence? Although the right to a jury trial is considered a fundamental safeguard of each American's constitutional liberties, the concept of a jury trial is hardly new, dating back to medieval England.

Your jury summons puts you in the center of this most basic right of all Americans. The United States and the State of Texas Constitutions guarantee a right to trial by jury for anyone accused of a crime, regardless of his or her race, religion, gender, national origin or economic status. Any time the facts of a civil or criminal case are in dispute, the parties have a right to have their case heard by a jury of fair and impartial citizens who will make decisions without bias or prejudice.

To Have a Jury Trial, There Must Be a Jury

And to have a jury, citizens from all walks of life must be called upon to participate. Because you have received a jury summons, your are now part of this important process.

In a sense, it is an adventure. You have the opportunity to see the justice system in action, meet a wide range of people, and if you are chosen to serve on a jury, participate in one of this country's most fundamental processes.

Although your jury summons may disrupt your daily routine, we ask that participate with an open mind, patience, and an understanding of the essential role you have in our justice system.

Jury Selection Process

The process for selecting prospective jurors is mandated by state law. If you are a registered voter, have a Texas driver's license or Texas personal identification card and you live in Denton County, your name is entered in a computer system designed to randomly select prospective jurors.

Denton County provides jurors for nineteen courts within Denton County. Those courts include 6 District Courts, 7 County Courts, and 6 Justice of the Peace Courts. The District Clerk makes a random selection of names, which are retrieved at least a month prior to the service date. Those selected receive a summons which is mailed by the District Clerk /Jury Services Dept.

Because the names in our jury pool are provided by two different sources there is the potential of having a jurors name twice on our system. The Secretary of State combines the names from the voter registration list and the DPS list however, their software cannot detect duplicates if there is any difference in name or address between the two sources. This can make it possible for a person to receive more than one jury summons within a short period of time. If this occurs please reference the exemption section of your summons for having appeared for service in the previous 36 months.

Exemptions

You can be exempted from jury duty in certain circumstances. These reasons for exemption do not disqualify you from serving -- even though you may qualify for an exemption you can still serve on a jury

But certain circumstances can impose considerable hardship for some people. If any of the following exemptions apply to you, the form on the back of the jury summons can be completed and mailed back to the Denton County Jury Services Department.  You do not need to appear unless otherwise noticed.  you will not received confirmation if an exemption is accepted.

-- those over seventy (70) years of age

-- those with legal custody of children under ten (10) years old when jury service would leave those children without adequate supervision (this does not apply to those who work outside the home during normal business hours or those whose children are in a daycare facility during the day)

-- students in private or public high schools or attending an institution of higher education (you must be enroll and attending classes at the time you are summoned to appear)

--those associated with the legislative branch as an officer or an employee of the senate, house of representatives, or any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the legislative branch of state government.

--those who have appeared as a petit juror in the county during the 36 month period preceding the date he/she is to appear. (this does not applye to those who have served in a city of federal court)

--primary caretakers of those unable to care for themselves (this does not apply to health care workers)

--those who have a medical condition and submit physician's documentation of such with the sworn Affidavit Form.

Non-Allowable Exemptions

There are several common reasons given for exemption requests which are not allowable:

-- being the sole owner of a business or commission sales

-- having an employer who will not pay you for your jury service

-- travel frequently for business

-- having a lack of transportation

Jury Duty and Your Job

The law protects your job while you are fulfilling your jury duty and you can't be fired for serving. Your employer is not, however, required to pay you for the time missed from work while on jury duty. If you need proof of service for your employer, one can be provided to you by the Jury Services Department.

Statutory Qualifications

In order for a person to serve as a juror they must meet certain qualifications. The qualifications are listed on your summons next to the exemptions. Unlike exemptions, if you do not meet all the qualifications you cannot serve on a jury and you must complete the sworn affidavit form and return it to the Jury Services Department.  You do not need to appear and you will not received confirmation from Jury Services.

A person is qualified to serve as a juror if that person:

-- is at least 18 years of age.

-- is a resident of Denton County and you must be a United States citizen.

-- is qualified under the constitution and laws to vote in the county in which one is to serve as a juror. (you do not have to be a registered voter to serve)

-- is of sound mind and good moral character.

-- is able to read and write. (this includes those unable to speak English)

-- has not served as a petit juror for 6 days in the preceding 6 months in a district court or 6 days in the preceding 3 months in a county court.

-- Has not been convicted of a theft or any felony.

--Is not under indictment or other legal accusation for a theft or any felony.

Tips to Make Your Jury Service More Enjoyable

Knowing where you are going and what to expect when you get there can make any experience more enjoyable, and jury service is no exception. Getting to the Denton County Courts Building, finding the Jury Assembly Room, and arriving prepared aren't nearly as tough as you might think.

Come Prepared

You must bring your juror badge with you when you report for jury duty. If you failed to return your information form please have it completed and bring it in with you.

In addition, you may want to bring something to do while you wait in the Jury Assembly Room. Jury duty does involve some waiting, so a good book or handwork will help pass the time. There is a workroom in the Jury Assembly Room that jurors are welcome to use during waiting periods. There are electrical plugs for lap top computer use, but there are no live modem lines.

You may also want to bring money for snacks, drinks and lunch. There are vending machines handy for snack during breaks, so plan to have plenty of change.

Dress the Part

You may be selected for and actually serve on a jury the day you are summoned, so it's important that you dress appropriately. Jury service is serious business, and you should dress accordingly. Business attire is recommended.

Shorts, tank tops and flip-flop sandals are not considered appropriate attire for court. Jeans are allowed. When in doubt, dress seriously but with comfort in mind. Jury service can involve a good deal of sitting.

What Your Jury Service Involves

Once you have arrived at the Jury Assembly Room, your jury service is underway. You'll find that the system is set up to guide you along with clear instructions throughout the process. Whether you are selected for a jury or not, you will still be providing an essential part of the trail by jury system.

Where To Go Once You've Arrived at the Courthouse

Free parking is available all around the Courts Building, along with several handicapped spaces.

Before you are allowed to enter the building you will pass through a metal detector. Please remember that absolutely no weapons of any kind are allowed in the building.
Your jury service starts in the Jury Assembly Room, located on the 2nd floor . Elevators to the 2nd floor are located behind the main staircase on the 1st floor.

Once inside, you'll find restrooms, a workroom and vending machines for beverages and snacks.

What To Expect

When you arrive at the Jury Assembly Room, please report to the Juror Check-In Desk. After checking in, prospective jurors will be given a brief orientation by a trial judge. The judge will go over the disqualifications and exemptions that were listed on the summons. Those who believe they may be disqualified and those with possible exemptions will be given the opportunity at this point to come forward and be heard by the impaneling judge.

Prospective jurors are assigned to panels, smaller groups from which jurors are selected. Those impaneled are taken to a courtroom by a bailiff. Once there, jurors are briefed by the judge and questioned by attorneys for both sides until the jurors who will hear the case are chosen. Once the jury has been selected, those on the panel who are not chosen are released. There may be panels assigned that first day that will be asked to return for cases beginning later in the week. Those jurors will be provided with a letter for their employer stating that they appeared and when they are expected to return to complete their service. Your jury services are only for the week you are summoned. The only way your service would extend past one week is if you are selected as a juror in a trial that goes into the next week.
Approximately 20% of prospective jurors are selected for trials. If you aren't selected to sit on a jury, you can expect to be released for the week. If you are selected, you will serve for one trial. Surprisingly, the average trial only lasts 1 to three (3) days.

Getting Paid for Jury Service

Jurors are paid for their service. Each juror receives six dollars ($6) a day for every day that they appear. If you are selected to serve on a case you will get ten dollars ($10) a day for every day that you are seated in that trial.

Payment is processed at the end of jury service, and a check is mailed to each juror within two to three weeks of their service.

You've Been Selected for a Jury -- What Now?

Approximately 20% of those summoned to jury duty are ever chosen to serve on a jury, so there's a good chance you'll be released from your jury duty after just one day.

If you are selected to serve, this will be an opportunity to see our justice system in action firsthand.

A Day in the Life of a Juror

Each trial is as unique as the people involved, and there's no way to predict how long the trial you are chosen for will last. A trial can last a day or take two or three days. They are seldom much longer.

During the trial, the judge will tell you what time you need to be in court each day and what time to expect each day to end. You will also be given a break for lunch, which you may choose to take at one of the many restaurants around the courthouse. Restaurant maps are provided in the jury room.

Trials follow a set procedure which you may find familiar.

Opening Statements: Attorneys for each side may explain the case, outline any evidence they will present, and discuss the issues you will decide. This is usually a broad statement which sets the stage for witnesses and the details to follow.

Presentation of Evidence: Testimony of witnesses and exhibits are all evidence. Any exhibits will be available to the jury during their deliberations. Because you will be deciding the case based on the facts presented, it is very important to pay close attention to all evidence.

Rulings by the Judge: The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. He may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while lawyers make legal arguments. If this happens, understand that these issues must be decided so that proper evidence can be considered by the jury.

Instruction to the Jury: After all evidence has been presented, the judge may give the jury the Charge of the Court. This includes legal instructions about the case and the question the jury must answer.

Closing Arguments: This gives the lawyers an opportunity to summarize the evidence and to try to persuade the jury to accept their client's view of the case.

Jury Deliberations and Decision: After hearing the closing arguments, the jury is sent to deliberate. During deliberations, members of the jury will decide how they will answer the questions presented in the Charge of the Court and then return a final verdict.

Sequestered Juries

Sequestered juries are very rare. Before you are assigned to such a jury, you will have an opportunity to discuss with the judge any problems this might create.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions about your summons or jury duty, please call the Jury Services Department at metro (940) 349-2230 or send email to Jury Web. We understand you have questions, and we'll do everything we can to make your jury service easy and as interesting as possible. We rely on our citizens to keep our justice system running, and we thank you in advance for the very important part you play.