Jury Service: What to Expect
ATTENTION JURORS: BE AWARE OF JURY DUTY PHONE SCAM
There have been numerous reports of jurors that have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be police officers who inform them that they have a warrant of arrest for missing jury duty and demanding payment to satisfy the warrant.
The City of Houston Municipal Courts and local law enforcement would never call you or email you and ask for your Social Security number, credit card number or other sensitive information, nor would we call and demand a payment of a fine for failure to appear for jury duty, including the placing of any amount of money on a prepaid Debit card (Green Dot) to pay the fine.
What to Expect
- Jurors are requested to report to the Jury Assembly Room at the location and time specified on their official jury summons.
- Although jury service at the City of Houston Municipal Courts is usually one day only, please expect to spend a full day at the Municipal Courts.
- Jurors may bring their lunch; please note that glass containers are not allowed at any court location. Vending machines are available.
- Electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, cellular telephones and reading materials may be used in the Jury Assembly Room and designated break areas. However, all electronic devices must be powered off while in a courtroom. Please review the Court’s Standing Order provided below:
- Taking pictures or video with your cellular device is strictly prohibited during your service.
- Free Wi-Fi and cable television are available at both jury service locations.
- Jurors may also bring reading material(s) on the date of their service. Reading is permitted in the Jury Assembly Room; however, reading is not permitted in the courtrooms.
PROHIBITED ITEMS / BUILDING SECURITY
Please note that you will pass through building security, including metal detectors and x-ray machines upon entry to the building. This could include random searches of strollers, bags, purses, briefcases and any other personal items as required by security personnel. These security measures are in place to ensure the safety of all persons who enter the courthouse.
The following items are prohibited in all City of Houston Municipal Courts and should be left in your vehicle:
- Guns and/or Holsters
- Scissors or Medical Tools
- Glass Objects or Containers
- Sharp Objects (includes tweezers, screw drivers, knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc.)
CONCEALED HANDGUN AND OPEN CARRY LAWS
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 46.03(a)(3), all firearms, including handguns carried by a person with a valid license to carry, are prohibited at all of our court locations.
Texas Penal Code 30.06:
"Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun."
Código Penal de Texas 30.06:
"De conformidad con el Artículo 30.06 del Código Penal de Texas (sobre el ingreso ilícito de un individuo con licencia de portación de armas cortas ocultas) una persona con licencia, según lo establecido en la Sección H, Capítulo 411 del Código Gubernamental de Texas (sobre la ley de expedición de licencia de armas cortas), tiene prohibido ingresar en esta propiedad con armas cortas ocultas."
Texas Penal Code 30.07:
"Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly."
Código Penal de Texas 30.07:
"De conformidad con el Artículo 30.07 del Código Penal de Texas (sobre el ingreso ilícito de un individuo con licencia de portación de armas cortas exhibidas públicamente) una persona con licencia, según lo establecido en la Sección H, Capítulo 411, del Código Gubernamental de Texas (sobre la ley de expedición de licencia de armas cortas), tiene prohibido ingresar en esta propiedad con armas cortas exhibidas públicamente."
Jurors serving at the City of Houston Municipal Courts are offered free parking at each court location. Maps for each court location can be viewed on the Court’s webpage: www.houstontx.gov/courts/locations.html
To receive driving directions using Mapquest, please follow the links provided below (Case Sensitive):
- City of Houston Lot H at 1643 Memorial Drive: http://mapq.st/14wLlwD
- Westside Command Station at 3203 South Dairy Ashford: http://mapq.st/12Y66WH
DRESS CODE/COURTROOM RULES
Proper attire is required in the courtrooms. The following accessories and items of clothing are not permitted at the City of Houston Municipal Courts:
- Shorts (all types)
- Hats (all types, excluding religious headwear)
- Muscle Shirts and Tank Tops
- Any item of clothing that displays offensive, vulgar, racist, sexist, gang-related, obscene language and/or graphics.
The following rules are strictly enforced:
- Taking pictures or video with your cellular device is strictly prohibited.
- Reading is not permitted in the courtrooms.
- Cell phones must be on silent mode while in the courtroom.
About the Jury Selection Process
Prospective jurors are summoned randomly from a list of voter and driver registration information provided by Harris County. When you arrive at the Jury Assembly Room, please check in with the jury administrator and be seated. A Judge will administer the Oath to the jurors present, provide a brief overview about jury service, and answer questions. The Judge will also speak to jurors individually who are requesting exemption from service.
There is a possibility that a juror may not get to hear a case on the day of their service.
There are several jury courts that request panels for cases scheduled for trial by jury. When a court requests a panel, the Jury Administrator will form a panel of fourteen individuals who will be escorted by the Court’s Bailiff to the courtroom. The panel members are sworn in by the Judge and answer questions directed for both the prosecution and defense about their qualifications to sit as jurors in the case. This questioning is called the “Voir Dire”. Voir Dire is a way for the parties to select a fair and impartial jury.
Under the justice system, jurors may be questioned by each of the lawyers before they decide to remove a certain number of jurors from the jury panel. For example, the prosecutor may ask you questions to see if you are connected to the trial or if you have any prejudice or bias toward anyone in the trial. Other questions will determine whether any panel member has a prejudice or a feeling that might influence them in rendering a verdict. A juror may be excused from the panel if it is shown that the juror cannot act impartially concerning the case to be heard. In addition, each side is allowed to remove a given number of jurors from the panel without having to show any reason. Once the Voir Dire is completed and both sides have made their strikes, six jurors will be selected and will be seated to hear evidence in a case. The remaining jurors who were not selected will return to the Jury Assembly Room for further instructions.
Jurors should be attentive to the testimony presented in the case. They are sworn to disregard their prejudices and follow the Court’s instructions. Each juror should keep an open mind and not attempt to make up their mind on the facts of a case until all the evidence has been presented and they have been instructed on the applicable law to the case. Similarly, jurors should not discuss the case even among themselves until so instructed by the Judge.
While in Court
A Court session begins when the Court Bailiff calls the court to order. All parties present rise upon the Judge taking the bench. Once the Judge takes his/her place on the bench, the Court Bailiff announces that Court is in session. A similar procedure is used when the Court adjourns. Common courtesy and politeness are safe guides as to the way jurors should act. As mentioned previously, no reading is permitted in the courtroom, nor should a juror carry on a conversation in the courtroom during the trial.
It is our goal to treat our jurors with the utmost respect and consideration. Their comfort and convenience will be served whenever possible. Jurors should bring to the attention of the Judge or Court personnel any matter affecting their service or if an emergency should arise.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Director and Presiding Judge by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Penalties For Failure to Answer Summons
The Government Code states that a person who fails to comply with this summons is subject to a contempt action punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 (§62.0141). Additionally, a person shall be fined not less than $10 nor more than $100 if he: (1) fails to attend court in obedience to the notice without reasonable excuse; or (2) files a false claim of exemption from jury service (§62.111).