Jury Information - Questions / Answers

Click on the links below to view the answers.

General Jury Questions:

-Why Is Jury Service Important?
-What Is My Duty As A Juror?
-How Was I Selected?
-Am I Eligible?
-Who Can Be Excused From Jury Service?
-What Are The Different Types Of Cases?

-Will I Be Paid For Being A Juror?
-Must My Employer Pay Me While I am On Jury Duty?
-Who Can Have A Jury Trial?
-Are There Rules About Jury Conduct?
-How Is A Juror Selected For A Particular Case?
-What Is Voir Dire Or Questioning Of The Jury Panel?
-What If I Have A Special Need or Emergency?

Frequently Asked Local Jury Questions

-What are the different Courts and their jurisdictions?
-What is a Petit Jury?
-What is a Grand Jury?
-How are Jurors selected? I get called every year and my neighbor never gets called.
-What should I do if I receive a jury summons in the mail?
-Who may be called to serve as a juror?

-I live in New Braunfels but I am a Guadalupe County resident not a Comal County resident. Do I still have to come to jury duty?
-I just served on jury duty 2 years ago, last year, 6 months ago why was I called again so soon?
-Do I have to respond to a jury summons?
-I am the sole proprietor of my business if I have to go to jury duty I have to close my office down Is there any way I can be excused?
-I am a cross-country truck driver, traveling nurse, insurance disaster adjustor (my job requires that I travel out of the county frequently). If I go to jury duty I don't get paid, or I will still be out of the county at the time of the summons – Can I be excused from duty?

-I am an RV'er, I don't actually live in Comal County. I just use the address for voting and to pay taxes, can I be exempt?
-The person you summoned no longer lives at this address, what do I do?
-The person you summons is deceased, what do I do?
-May I postpone my jury service to a more convenient time?
-What if I have a disability or handicap?
-What about my job and how can I serve if my employer won't let me off or won't pay me?
-Do you have something I can take to my employer to confirm that I had Jury Duty?

-Why do they ask so many personal questions and do I have to answer them?
-Is there a specific dress code when reporting for Jury Duty?
-Are jurors subject to search when entering a court facility?
-Can I be permanently excused from Jury Duty?
-What if I have other questions that have not been answered here?

Order Of Events Of The Trial

Opening Statements:
Presentation Of Evidence:
Rulings By The Judge:
Instructions To The Jury:
Closing Arguments:
Deliberations And Verdict Of The Jury:
When In Doubt, Ask The Judge:



Juror Information - Questions and Answers

General Jury Questions

Q. Why Is Jury Service Important?

A. 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.

Q. What Is My Duty As A Juror?

A. 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.

Q. How Was I Selected?

A. You were selected at random from a list of voter registrations and a list of driver registrations from the county in which you live.

Q. Am I Eligible?

Jurors must:

  1. Be a citizen of the United States and of this State.
  2. Be at least 18 years of age.
  3. Reside in the county of jury service.
  4. Be able to read and write.
  5. Be of sound mind.

You cannot serve on a jury if:

  1. You have been convicted of a felony or of any type of theft (unless rights have been restored);
  2. You are now on probation or deferred adjudication for a felony or for any type of theft;
  3. 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 Jury Clerk at 830-221-1240.

Q. Who Can Be Excused From Jury Service?

A. You are entitled to be excused as a juror if you:

  1. Are over 70 years of age;
  2. Have legal custody of a child under 10 years of age and jury service would leave the child unsupervised;
  3. Are a student in class;
  4. Are the caretaker of a person who is unable to care for themselves (an invalid);
  5. Can show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend or to communicate in English.
  6. 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 country of resident.

Q. What Are The Different Types Of Cases?

A. There are two basic types of cases, criminal and 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, represented by the District 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 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.

Q. Will I Be Paid For Being A Juror?

A. Yes. If you come in and are not rescheduled for a later date you do get paid. The pay is $10.00 for the first day and $28.00 for each subsequent day. You will receive a Payment/Donation form when you report in for jury duty. Be sure to fill that out and return it to the clerk's office before you complete your jury service.

Q. Must My Employer Pay Me While I am On Jury Duty?

A. 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.

Q. Who Can Have A Jury Trial?

A. 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.

Q. Are There Rules About Jury Conduct?

A. 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.

Q. How Is A Juror Selected For A Particular Case?

A. Cases will usually be heard by juries of 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. The trial jury will be the first 12 of the remaining jurors on the panel.

Q. What Is Voir Dire Or Questioning Of The Jury Panel?

A. 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.

Q. What If I Have A Special Need or Emergency?

A. After you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, if you have a special need or an emergency, tell the bailiff.

FREQUENTLY ASKED JURY QUESTIONS

General Information:

There are 4 District Courts, 2 County Court At Law Courts, 4 Justice of the Peace Courts in Comal County that pull jurors from the Comal County Jury Wheel. You may also be summoned by the municipal court for the town you live in (i.e. New Braunfels) or for Federal Jury Duty, which do not fall under Comal County authority. ury service is mandatory and prospective juror names are obtained from Voter Registration and Department of Motor Vehicle records. Before calling our office review the questions and answers below.

Q. What is a Petit Jury?

A. A Petit Jury is the jury for the trial of cases, either civil or criminal. It can consist of 6 or 12 persons, plus alternates if necessary. District, County, Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts can all summon you for Petit Jury.

Q. What is a Grand Jury?

A. A grand jury is summoned to consider whether the evidence, presented by the state against a person accused of crime, warrant his indictment. The responsibility for grand juries belongs to the District Clerk and District Judges.

Q. How are Jurors selected? I get called every year and my neighbor never gets called.

A. Jury selection is done through both your voter registration number and your driver's license number. Each time is a random selection (honest) by the computer, your odds do not decrease if you've already been called once this year because your name is always in the jury pool.

Q. What should I do if I receive a jury summons in the mail.

A. READ THE SUMMONS. The summons contains a great deal of information about where, when and how to report for jury service, as well as a questionnaire that needs to be completed and returned to the clerk for the court that summoned you.

Q. Who may be called to serve as a juror?

A. Every person who is at least 18 years of age, is a United States citizen, a resident of Comal County, and eligible to vote in Comal County can be summoned for juty duty. (Note: you don't have to be registered to vote, you just have to be able to register if you choose to.)

Q. I live in New Braunfels but I am a Guadalupe County resident not a Comal County resident – do I still have to come to jury duty?

A. No. You must be a Comal County resident to serve on jury duty in ComalCounty.

Q. I just served on jury duty 2 years ago, last year, 6 months ago – why was I called again so soon!

A. Unless you were chosen to actually sit on a juror and served for at least 6 days during the preceding 3 months in County Court or during the preceding 6 month in District Court; you remain in the jury pool and can continue to be called be the random selection process. (In other words your name goes back into the same large pool and your odds are the same at getting selected as if you had never been chosen.

Q. Do I have to respond to a jury summons?

A. Absolutely Yes. The juror summons is an official court order; failure to obey such an Order could result in a finding of contempt of court; you could be arrested and fined.

Q. I am the sole proprietor of my business – if I have to go to jury duty I have to close my office down – Is there any way I can be excused?

A. No. It is against the law for us to excuse people for economic reasons. Under certain circumstances the Court may allow you to postpone jury duty but only for a limited time.

Q. I am a cross-country truck driver, traveling nurse, insurance disaster adjustor (my job requires that I travel out of the county frequently). If I go to jury duty I don't get paid, or I will still be out of the county at the time of the summons – Can I be excused from duty?

A. No. The best we can do is postpone you to jury duty within the following one to two months. So long as you are a resident of this county and qualified to vote in this county you are responsible for serving on jury duty. (you do not have to be registered to vote to be qualified as a juror). Again it is against the law to excuse people for economic reasons.

Q. I am an RV'er, I don't actually live in Comal County, I just use the Address for voting and to pay taxes, can I be exempt?

A. No. If you are registered to vote in this county or register your vehicles or pay U.S. or county taxes from this address then you are a resident of this county and obligated to serve jury duty in this county.

Q. I was convicted of a crime, do I still have come to jury duty?

A. It depends. If it was a felony and your rights have not been restored you are no longer eligible to serve on jury duty. If it was a misdemeanor crime (other than theft) you are still eligible to serve on jury duty.

Q. The person you summoned no longer lives at this address what do I do?

A. Fill out the card with the name and address of the person, if known, or write across the card no longer at this address and return it in the mail.

Q. The person you summoned is deceased, what do I do.

A. Put the name of the person on the card and write deceased across the card, and return it in the mail.

Q. May I postpone my jury service to a more convenient time?

A. Yes, under certain circumstances, such as temporary health problems, paid vacations or business trips and other serious personal commitments. Such postponements are subject to the needs of the court. Depending on the court most postponements can only be postponed for 30 days.

Q. What if I have a disability or handicap?

A. Everyone who is eligible to be on jury duty cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. If you wish to serve just call the court that summoned you to find out what accommodations are available. If you do not wish to serve because of your disability you will need to obtain a letter from your doctor stating that your disability precludes you from serving on jury duty.

Q. Do I get paid for jury service?

A. Yes. If you come in and are not rescheduled to a later date you will get paid. The pay is: $10.00 for the first day and $28.00 for each subsequent day. You will receive a Payment/Donation form when you report in for jury duty. Be sure to fill it out and return it to the clerk's office by the time you complete your jury service.

Q. What about my job and how can I serve if my employer won't let me off or won't pay me?

A. Under the law your employer must let you off for jury service. Employers cannot discharge or otherwise penalize an employee who is summoned to court to serve as a juror. Many employers are good corporate citizens and continue the jurors wages and benefits throughout the period of service. However, they are not required to pay you, and some companies and smaller businesses may not. Check with your employer regarding their policies regarding jury duty. If your employer asks you to postpone your jury service – you may be asked to provide written confirmation from your employer.

Q. Do you have something I can take to my employer to confirm that I had Jury Duty?

A. Yes. Once your jury duty is completed we can give you a work excuse to turn in to your employer. All school districts in the area require their faculty to bring back a work excuse as do many other employers. Please check with your employer regarding their policy about jury duty. It is your responsibility to get your work excuse BEFORE YOU LEAVE. If you are not sure your employer requires a work excuse; it takes only a few minutes to get one before you leave as opposed to the hassle for all involved if you call up days or a weeks later requesting one.

Q. Why do they ask so many personal questions and do I have to answer them?

A. You do have to answer the questions on the jury summons card. Everybody who is summoned into court as a juror comes with past life experiences and opinions which may effect the way a person views evidence or testimony of some witnesses. The process of questioning prospective jurors is called “voir dire” and is controlled by the judge. The process is designed to select the most fair and impartial jurors for that particular case.

Q. Is there a specific dress code when reporting for jury duty?

A. All persons should be dressed in clothing reasonable befitting the dignity and solemnity of the court proceedings. Shorts, tank tops, bare midriffs, caps, hats, river/ beach shoes are not permitted. Courtrooms are air conditioned, for your comfort you may wish to bring a light jacket.

Q. Are jurors subject to search when entering a court facility?

A. Yes. Anyone entering a court facility, including employees, attorneys, and prospective jurors are subject to being searched. Do not bring any items that may possibly be used as a weapon.

Q. Can I be permanently excused from jury duty?

A. That depends on your circumstances. To be permanently excused you have to fill out a permanent exemption form. You may also need a letter from your doctor if it is for health related reasons (mental or physical). Once the documentation is received it is sent to a District Judge to decide whether or not you can be permanently exempted. Once it is approved, the District Clerk's office will send it on to the Voter Registration Office to have you removed from the jury pool. However the jury wheel is reconstituted every year and occasionally exemptions that were entered are deleted by the computer; so please keep a copy of your form and your documentation in case you get summoned again.

Q. What if I have other questions that have not been answered here?

A. On your jury summons card in the top right hand corner is the juror information number for the court that summoned you. There are 4 District Courts, 2 County Court At Law courts, and 4 Justice of the Peace Courts, from within the county that can call you for jury duty, so be sure to check the phone number on the card

Order Of Events Of The Trial

Opening Statements:

The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for you to 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 use of any notes 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, the jury is sent to deliberate. When the jury has answered the questions asked of them they shall return their 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:

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; or, 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 handbook 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.

NOTE: Not all of these rules apply in Justice or Municipal Courts:

TEXAS UNIFORM JURY HANDBOOK
As Authorized by Chapter 23 of the Government Code