Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in San Antonio, TX?

The constitutional right to a trial by jury is a powerful part of our justice system. But for it to work, we need people to fill those jury seats. These are the same people who also have the right to this fair trial process.

Being called for jury duty is a civic duty. It’s about contributing to a system that strives to ensure justice. Imagine being called for a complex product liability case. Such trials can be long, sometimes lasting days or even weeks. It’s a significant commitment.

Despite this responsibility, there are times when serving on a jury might not be feasible. In San Antonio, TX, like many other places, there are certain situations where you can be excused from this duty. Getting out of jury duty is possible under the right circumstances.

Does Every Case Need a Jury?

The answer is no. Many cases, especially personal injury ones, get settled before they ever reach a jury. It’s pretty common for these cases to end without a trial.

Why do so many cases settle? It’s encouraged. Trials can be long and expensive. Trials don’t just affect the people directly involved in the lawsuit. Think about the jury members. 

Jurors have to take time out of their lives to serve. This can be a big ask, especially for lengthy trials.

Settlements can happen at any stage. Sometimes, they occur right before the jury decides a verdict. This means that even if a lawsuit is filed, it’s more likely to end in a settlement than in a courtroom with a jury.

Who Gets Called for Jury Duty in Texas? 

In Texas, being called for jury duty starts with a simple selection process. The government looks at people who are registered voters, hold a Texas driver’s license, or have a Texas personal ID. If you’re one of these people, you might get a court summons in the mail.

But getting a summons doesn’t mean you’ll definitely serve on a jury. First, you need to be qualified. You’ll join the jury selection process if you don’t ask to be excused or exempted. This process can be quick, often just a day or part of a day.

Here’s how jury selection works: 

  • Groups of potential jurors, usually 50 to 60 people, gather in a courtroom. 
  • They meet the judge, lawyers, and often the parties involved in the case. 
  • This is where the process of ‘voir dire’ happens. 

During this, lawyers and the judge ask each potential juror questions to ensure they’re truly qualified and can be fair and impartial.

After questioning, lawyers and their clients can challenge any jurors they think might not be suitable. They use ‘challenges for cause’ and ‘peremptory challenges’ for this. 

Challenges for cause are used when there’s a specific reason to believe a juror is not fit to serve. Examples include a juror’s personal connection to the case or a bias. The judge decides if the challenge is valid.

Peremptory Challenges can be used without providing a reason. Each side has a limited number of peremptory challenges. They are often used as a strategy to shape the jury in a way that might be more favorable to their side of the case.

Once all challenges are used, the final jury is chosen. This jury and one to four alternates will hear the case.

Who Is Excused from Jury Duty? 

Other than elimination during voir dire, there are specific situations where you might be excused, including disqualification or personal reasons. 

Disqualification occurs automatically in certain cases. You won’t qualify as a juror if you’re under 18, not a U.S. citizen, don’t reside in the county of the summons, can’t vote due to legal restrictions, have issues with reading and writing, suffer from mental incapacity, or have a theft or felony record.

Personal excuses include having physical or mental health concerns, not understanding English, needing to observe a religious holiday, being over 75 years old, caring for a young child or a disabled person, or being an active-duty military member. Other significant hardships that affect your ability to serve can also be considered.

In both cases, the court reviews each situation to determine eligibility for jury duty. Ignoring the summons or trying to avoid jury duty with false excuses can lead to serious consequences in Texas. You could be charged with contempt of court and fined for failure to report to jury duty.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in San Antonio, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in San Antonio, Texas, and need legal help, contact our San Antonio personal injury lawyers at George Salinas Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

George Salinas Injury Lawyers
6243 I-10 Ste. 955, San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 225-0909