Many people dread receiving a notice to serve on jury duty. Therefore, your first thought if you receive a jury duty notice might be how to get out of jury duty in Austin, TX. It can be difficult to get out of jury duty, but it is possible.
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What Is Jury Duty in Austin?
Juries are summoned in civil cases and criminal cases. Civil cases can include personal injury cases, such as car accidents, product liability claims, motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice cases.
Jurors in personal injury cases decide if the defendant (the alleged at-fault party) caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If the defendant is at fault, the jurors decide how much money to award the plaintiff (the injured party) for damages.
The burden of proof in a civil case is slightly lower than in a criminal case. A plaintiff in a personal injury case has the burden of proving the legal elements of negligence and other causes of action by a preponderance of the evidence.
Jury members are the “triers of fact” in a civil trial. They decide what evidence and testimony is factual. Jurors can believe or disbelieve all or parts of a party’s evidence.
How Are Jurors Chosen for Service in Austin, TX?
You might not serve on a jury even though you receive a summons for jury duty. The summons only requires you to appear in court for jury duty.
The jury selection for each case is random, and the parties have the right to reject a specific number of jurors without giving a reason. Personal injury lawyers carefully consider each juror to decide if there is a reason for dismissing the juror.
Individuals are chosen at random to appear for jury duty. Each county receives a list of potential jurors from the Texas Secretary of State. The list consists of individuals who have a Texas driver’s license, are registered voters, or have a Texas identification card.
Who Qualifies to Serve on a Jury in Austin, TX?
You must be a resident of Travis County to serve on a jury in an Austin court. Qualified jurors must meet the following criteria:
- Be 18 years old or older;
- A resident of Texas and Travis County;
- Be a United States citizen;
- Meet the qualifications to register to vote in Travis County, even though the person is not registered to vote;
- Be of good moral character and sound mind;
- Be able to write and read;
- Have not been convicted of or under indictment for a felony or misdemeanor theft; and,
- Have not served as a juror for six days during the past three months for a county court or the past six months for a district court.
If you are unsure whether you meet the qualifications to serve on a jury, contact the clerk of court immediately. The jury summons should provide instructions and contact information for inquiries.
Are There Exemptions From Jury Service?
There are several exemptions under Texas law for jury service. Exemptions include, but are not limited to:
- You have legal custody of a child under the age of 12 years, and you do not have adequate supervision for the child while you attend jury service.
- Being over 70 years old.
- You are enrolled and attend college or an institution of higher education;
- You are a student of a private or public secondary school.
- Being the primary caregiver for a person who cannot care for themselves. This jury duty exemption does not apply to healthcare workers.
- You are a United States Military Forces member on active duty and deployed away from home outside of your resident county.
- You are an employee or officer of the house of representatives, senate, or other agency in the legislative branch of government.
You are not required to claim an exemption from jury duty. However, if you want to be exempted from jury service, you must follow the instructions on the jury summons to request an exemption. You must appear for jury duty as instructed if the court does not exempt you from service.
What Are the Penalties for Skipping Jury Duty in Austin?
Failing to appear for jury duty can result in the judge issuing a contempt of court order. Texas Government Code §62.111 imposes a fine of $100 to $500 for failing to appear in court without a reasonable excuse or filing a false exemption claim for jury duty.
The best thing to do when you receive a jury summons is to read the entire notice. Then, follow the instructions for responding to the notice. If you have questions about jury duty, call the clerk of court promptly.