What to Expect During Jury Duty

Many adults have been summoned for jury duty. The experience is roughly the same. You open your mail one day, and an official letter from a state or federal court screams “Jury Summons” to you in large, conspicuous type. Many adults have successfully managed to avoid fulfilling their civic duty to serve as a juror. This article discusses the jury selection process and what jurors can expect if selected to serve on a jury.

The Summons

Both federal and state jurisdictions randomly select prospective jurors to serve on a jury. The court will mail a summons to the prospective jurors mailing address. The summons will have instructions on how to respond, including how to claim an exemption. Everyone should carefully read the instructions on their summons, whether they intend to serve or not.

Under section 62.103 of the Texas Government Code, the following are exempted from jury service:

  • Persons over age 70
  • The parent of a minor child, if service would result in inadequate supervision
  • Students in secondary school
  • University or college students
  • Public officials from the legislative branch of the Texas government
  • Persons who served on a petit jury in the past 24 months
  • Military service members on active duty on assignment away from their county of residence

Jury Selection

Juries are selected in a process called “voir dire.” This is where the court determines whether you qualify to serve on a jury.

According to section 62.102 of the Texas Government Code, a qualified juror must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a citizen and resident of the jurisdiction of jury service
  • Qualify to vote in the county they were asked to serve as a juror
  • Be of sound mind and good moral character
  • Be literate
  • Not served as a juror for a total of 6 days in the past 3 months in the county of service
  • Not be a convicted or under indictment for misdemeanor theft or a felony

The counsel for the parties also has an opportunity to disqualify people from serving on the jury in their case. Jurors may be excluded for cause. This usually means that the juror has a personal bias concerning the case.

Jurors can also be removed for no reason. These are known as peremptory challenges. Depending on the nature of the case, each party has a limited number of “peremptory challenges.”

Most people use this stage as an opportunity to try to get out of jury service by claiming that they are biased in favor of or against one of the parties. This tactic usually fails because many experienced attorneys can tell when someone tries to do this. Additionally, bias towards one party is an attractive quality to the opposing party.

During Trial

If you managed to be selected for jury service, congratulations. As a juror, the court will swear you in regarding your duty to act as an objective fact-finder. Jurors are asked to report for service in the morning, although proceedings may not occur until the afternoon.

The court will remind you not to form any conclusions about the case until the parties have submitted all evidence and offered all arguments. Jurors are admonished not to discuss the case with anyone, including the other jurors.

In Texas, Jurors may not ask questions in criminal trials. In the 1992 case Morrison v. State, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that if jurors were allowed to ask witnesses questions, their impartiality would be “imperiled.” However, Texas jurors may ask witnesses questions in civil cases.

Making a Decision

When both parties conclude their case, the jury retreats to a room to deliberate the evidence and arguments presented at trial and reach a decision. Jurors may not make an independent investigation of the facts. This is because the justice system wants to give the parties a reasonable opportunity to address evidence against them.

In Texas, the jurors in a criminal trial must reach a unanimous verdict. In civil cases, a substantial majority may be sufficient for a valid verdict.

Need a Dedicated Trial Attorney in Bryan?

At Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law, we have proudly represented Bryan residents in for over 30 years in various personal injury matters. We are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive and effective legal representation through every stage of the litigation process – from jury selection to closing statements. You can count on us to zealously advocate for your right to be compensated for injuries someone else wrongfully caused.

Schedule a free complimentary case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys by calling Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law at (979) 227-4888 or contacting us online today.

What is Loss of Consortium?

Personal injury damages can be attributed to different losses a person typically suffers as a result of suffering from a bodily injury. Economic damages compensate the injured victim for monetary losses related to their injury, such as medical and hospital bills for treatment of an injury.

However, there are some losses you can’t put a price tag on. Noneconomic damages compensate the injured party for intangible losses that aren’t readily quantified in financial terms, such as disability, paralysis, and physical pain and suffering. Noneconomic damages also compensate for a particular type of loss called “loss of consortium.” This blog explains the nature and basis for loss of consortium damages.

What Does Loss of Consortium Compensate?

Loss of consortium damages compensates close family members of an injured person for lost affection or companionship resulting from the injured their loved one sustained. These damages are commonly available in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases where the victim was either killed or rendered so disabled as to severely diminish their capacity to provide affection and companionship for their family.

Loss of consortium damages are restricted to spousal relationships and child-parent relationships. The injured party’s siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, stepparents or stepchildren, or friends are not entitled to receive loss of consortium damages.

A party seeking to recover damages for loss of consortium based on an injury to their spouse or its effect on the child-parent relationship must establish that the other party to the relationship suffered a severe physical injury or died as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

Furthermore, loss of consortium damages are unique because the person who was directly affected by the defendant’s wrongful conduct is not entitled to those damages. Instead, the victim’s family has a derivative right to receive compensation for losses resulting from their injury.

Spousal Loss of Consortium

Texas law recognizes a person’s right to enjoy their spouse’s affection, comfort, companionship, and sexual relations. As a result, the non-injured spouse must demonstrate that their loved one’s injury interfered with the emotional and intangible benefits the couple enjoyed from their relationship.

Child-Parent Loss of Consortium

A parent may claim amounts for losing the affection and companionship of their young child. Loss of consortium for the parent’s loss of a child depends on a variety of factors such as the child’s age and emotional awareness. At the other end, a child may also suffer loss of consortium from a parent.

Factors a court may consider to determine a child’s entitlement to economic damages include:

  • The severity of the parent’s injury
  • The actual effect of the injury on the parent-child relationship
  • The child’s age and emotional sophistication
  • The availability of other consortium-giving relationships to the child

Again, loss of consortium falls under the category for noneconomic damages. Therefore, evidence relevant to the injured parent’s earning capacity will not be considered when evaluating the basis and extent of an award for loss of consortium.

Contact an Experienced Products Liability Attorney in Bryan

Has one of your close family members died or suffered a severely disabling injury? If so, you should seek the legal advice of an experienced Bryan wrongful death attorney regarding your available options for receiving a legal remedy to which you are entitled. At Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law, we have over 30 years of experience recovering damages for personal injuries, including loss of consortium in wrongful death cases. You can count on us to relentlessly advocate for your right to hold those responsible for wrongfully causing the death of your loved one.

Contact Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law online or call (979) 227-4888 today to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our skilled products liability attorneys.