Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in Texas?
The jury is one institution that most of the world’s legal systems do not have. If you file a personal injury claim, it is almost certain that both you and the defendant enjoy the right to a jury trial. With every right, however, comes an obligation. As a resident of Texas, you have the duty to sit on a jury if the state calls on you. Fortunately, certain exceptions apply.
Litigation, Settlement, and Trial
Most people resolve their personal injury claims at the settlement table, not in court. Even when the plaintiff files a lawsuit, they usually withdraw it long before a trial. You will only need to concern yourself about jury duty if a trial is imminent.
How Texas Selects Jurors
Texas courts select jurors according to certain rules. They browse voter registration records, for example, or they look at lists of people who hold state driver’s licenses or personal IDs. It’s hard to fly low enough under the radar to avoid scrutiny. Nevertheless, odds are you won’t be selected.
The Time Burden
Most trials begin and end on the same day. Nevertheless, large or complex claims involving wrongful death, for example, or product liability, can take weeks or months to resolve. In rare cases, they can even take years to resolve. This isn’t likely to happen to you, but it has happened before.
You can seek automatic disqualification from jury duty if you are:
- Under 18 years old;
- Not a US citizen (even a green card won’t obligate you to serve on a jury);
- You are ineligible to vote in the county where the trial will take place;
- You are insane;
- You reside out of state;
- You reside in a country other than the county where the trial will be held;
- You have bad moral character;
- You are illiterate;
- You have served on a county jury too recently; or
- You have been convicted, indicted, or accused of certain types of crimes.
In borderline cases, a lawyer might help you qualify under one of the foregoing exceptions.
If you don’t qualify for a jury duty exemption based on a general excuse, you might have an individual excuse, such as:
- You are physically impaired to the extent it would affect your ability to serve on a jury.
- You can’t speak or understand English;
- Jury duty falls on a religious holiday for your religion;
- You are over 70 years old;
- You are the primary caretaker for a child under 12, and you cannot find anyone to fill in for you;
- You are a high school or college student;
- You work for the Texas state legislature or the US Congress;
- You are the primary caretaker for a disabled person; or
- You are on active duty with the US military, and you are deployed outside the county.
The foregoing list is not exclusive. There is also a generalized “hardship exception,” for example. When ruling on your application for an exemption, the court will consider the facts of your particular case. It is difficult to predict what the outcome might be in any given instance.
Voir dire is the process by which a court selects the members of the jury. It is competitive—both sides’ lawyers have a say in who is selected. For example, a lawyer might eliminate a juror if questioning the candidate convinces them that they will be biased against their client. The court will summon many more people than the number who sit on a jury, anticipating that voir dire will disqualify many of them.
Talk With a Lawyer Before You Decide on a Course of Action
If Texas has called you to jury duty and you don’t want to serve, don’t just ignore the summons. Either look for a way out yourself or talk with a lawyer about the matter. To do otherwise would be asking for trouble. With the advice of a personal injury lawyer, your chances of avoiding jury duty likely increase, contact the attorneys at Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers for more information on your options.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Dallas, TX – Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers
If you need assistance in Dallas, TX, please contact the Dallas personal injury lawyers at Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today. We serve all throughout Dallas County and surrounding areas.