A Jury Summons is a legal notice and failure to appear for Jury Duty can result in Contempt of Court.
Defendants in municipal courts, like defendants in all other courts with criminal jurisdiction, have the right to a jury trial. However, defendants may waive that right and request that a judge hear and decide the case Arts. 1.05, 1.14 and 45.025. C.C.P.
Article 45.027(a) C.C.P., requires the judge to issue a writ or venire commanding the proper officer(in municipal court, it is usually the court clerk) to summon a venire from which six qualified persons shall be selected to serve as jurors in the case. Jurors may be selected from tax rolls, voter registration rolls or in any other nondiscriminatory manner. State law requires that a prospective juror live within the City. Sec. 62.501, G.C.
Sections 62.102-62.105, 62.501, and 62.1031, G.C., provide qualifications for prospective jurors. A potential juror must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- be a citizen of the state and county in which the person is to serve as a juror (In municipal court, they must also be a resident of the city);
- be a qualified voter in the state and county, but does not have to registered to vote;
- not have been convicted of a misdemeanor theft or a felony;
- not be under indictment or other legal accusation for misdemeanor theft or felony;
- be of sound mind and good moral character;
- not be a witness in the case;
- not have served on a grand jury that issued the indictment (for felonies);
- not have served on the jury in a former trial of the same case;
- not have a bias or prejudice, either in favor of or against the defendant or the State;
- not have already formed an opinion in favor of or against the defendant or the Sate;
- not have already formed an opinion or conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant which would influence the finding of a verdict in the case;
- be able to read and write;
- not have served as a petit juror for six days during the preceding three months in the county court or the preceding six months in the district court;
- not be interested, directly or indirectly, in the subject matter of the case; and
- not be related by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree to a party in the case.
Section 62.106, G.C., provides for legal juror exemptions. The potential juror may claim an exemption if he or she:
- is over 70 years of age;
- has legal custody of a child or children under the age of 15 years and that jury service would cause the child or children to be left without adequate supervision;
- is a student of a public or private secondary school;
- is enrolled in an institution of higher education;
- is an officer or employee of the Senate, the House of Representatives, or any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the legislative branch of state government;
- is a primary caretaker of an invalid who is unable to care for himself/herself;
- is a member of the U.S. military forces serving on active duty and deployed to a location away from the person's home station and out of the person's county of residence;
- have served on a petit jury in the county in the last 24-month period preceding the currently scheduled day of service, unless the county uses a jury plan and the period authorized exceeds two years.
A person who is at least 70 years of age may file for permanent exemption from jury duty. The court clerk shall promptly have a copy of the written exemption delivered to the county tax assessor-collector. The county collector is required to maintain a current register of persons who claim and are entitled to a permanent exemption. The name of a person on the register may not be used in preparing the record of names from which a jury is selected. Pursuant to Secs. 62.107(a),(c) and (d) of the Government Code.
Establishing a Postponement
A prospective juror may establish an exemption without appearing in person by filing a signed statement of the grounds for the exemption with the clerk of the court at anytime before the date of trial.
The duty to serve as a juror is one of the greatest privileges of a free country. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.