Brian White | January 6, 2023 | Personal Injury
In the United States, a trial by jury is a fundamental right. Since every right comes with a corresponding responsibility, serving on a jury if you are called is your civic duty. This can be burdensome if you are called to serve on a complex product liability case, for example, because a trial might take days or even weeks.
There are many exceptions to the obligation to serve on a jury, however. Under some circumstances, getting out of jury duty is not particularly difficult.
How Are Most Personal Injury Cases Resolved?
Most personal injury claims never go to trial. “Most” means almost all. Even when the plaintiff goes so far as to file a lawsuit, over 90% of cases settle out of court. Obviously, if the case settles, there is usually no need for a jury. The only exception arises in the event of a last-minute settlement. Parties to a lawsuit can settle their case any time before the jury reaches a verdict, even during jury deliberations.
How Does Texas Decide Who Serves on Jury Duty?
The government will select jurors from among people who are registered to vote, who hold a Texas driver’s license, or who have Texas personal ID. If selected, you will receive a court summons by mail.
Excused Absences: How To Get Out of Jury Duty
A great deal of literature appears on the internet after a search of “How to avoid jury duty” in various states. The Texas rules for jury duty specify the circumstances under which a prospective juror may avoid service even after a court summons (please see below).
The court will excuse you from jury duty if you do not qualify as a juror for any of the following reasons:
- You are a minor (under 18);
- You are not a US citizen. US permanent residents do not have to serve on juries.
- You are not a resident of Texas and a resident of the particular county that called you to serve.
- You are ineligible to vote in the county where you will serve.
- You cannot read and write.
- You are not of sound mind.
- You have a bad moral character.
- You have served on a local jury recently (the rules here are rather specific).
- You have been convicted of theft or of a felony, or you have been indicted for or accused of such a crime.
Disqualification for any of the foregoing reasons is automatic.
Elimination During Voir Dire
During voir dire, the opposing attorneys will select jurors from among the candidates during an adversarial process. You might be eliminated by one of the lawyers, for example, if they believe you will be biased against their client.
You can assert the following personal excuses to avoid jury duty.
- You are physically or mentally impaired.
- You don’t understand English.
- You would have to serve on a religious holiday (for your religion).
- You are elderly (over 70).
- You need to stay at home to supervise a child under 12.
- You are a student at a secondary school.
- You are a registered student at an institution of higher education (and you actually attend classes there).
- You work in the legislative branch of government.
- You are the primary caretaker of a disabled person (excluding healthcare workers.).
- You are an active duty member of the US military, and your deployment is outside of your county of residence.
- Serving on a jury would cause you hardship for a reason not enumerated above.
The court will decide whether your excuse is convincing at its own discretion.
What Are the Penalties for Skipping Jury Duty in Texas?
If you fail to answer your summons, fail to attend court, or attempt to evade jury duty based on a concocted excuse, Texas can charge you with contempt of court. This may result in a fine of anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on the circumstances.
Contact an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
If Texas has called you for jury duty, an experienced personal injury lawyer might be able to provide you with insight into what your options are. Seek out the services of a lawyer as soon as possible.
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054