Jury Rights & Responsibilities
Right to Re-Employment
A private employer may not terminate the employment of a permanent employee because the employee serves as a juror. An employee whose employment is terminated in violation of this section is entitled to return to the same employment that the employee held when summoned for jury service if the employee, as soon as practical after release from jury service, gives the employer actual notice that the employee intends to return. (Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 122.001).
Failure to Answer Summons & Penalties
A person who fails to comply with a summons is subject to a contempt action punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 (Government Code, Section 62.0141). Additionally, a person shall be fined not less than $10 nor more than $100 if the person: (1) fails to attend court in obedience to the notice without reasonable excuse; or (2) files a false claim of exemption from jury service. (Government Code, Section 62.111).
Proper Attire is Required
All persons entering the courtroom must be dressed appropriately for court. Business casual is acceptable. Please do not wear short, tank tops, hats, flip-flops, sandals. etc.
Order of Events in a 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.
- Ruling 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 Rule 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 Argument: 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.
- Deliberation 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:
- Physical comfort;
- Special needs;
- Any questions regarding evidence; or
- 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 juror's notes to the judge. This information 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 instruction will prevail.