When you arrive at the Central Jury Room in the Tarrant County Justice Center, you will check in and be assigned to a court. The courts are primarily in the downtown area. The courts adhere to a strict appearance policy. Appropriate dress for your court assignment should be whatever you would wear to a job interview: no shorts or inappropriate t-shirts and tank tops.
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil (including family cases). A criminal case results when a person is accused of committing a crime. You, as a juror, must decide whether the person charged is guilty or not guilty. The accused person is presumed innocent, and the state, represented by the district attorney, must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two or more parties. In a civil case, you, as a juror, must answer questions of disputed facts based upon the testimony and evidence admitted by the judge. The answers to these questions are called the verdict.
Cases will usually be heard by juries of 12 or 6 jurors (12 in district courts - 6 in county courts). A larger group, called a panel, will be sent to the trial courtroom. When you arrive at your court, the bailiff there will instruct you.
Jurors will be questioned by each of the lawyers under the supervision of the judge. This interview process is called voir dire. The voir dire is a way for the parties to select an impartial jury. You may be questioned individually or as a group to determine selection of the jury. For example, the lawyer 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.
The questions of the attorneys and judge are not intended to embarrass you, but rather to help the lawyers in the jury selection process. You may ask the judge to allow you to answer some questions away from the other jurors. 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.
The trial jury will be the first 12 or 6 of the remaining jurors on the panel. After the voir dire, the selection of jurors will be announced and the remainder of the panel will be returned to the central jury room. If you have a special need or an emergency after you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, tell the bailiff in the courtroom.
Should the parties to a suit unexpectedly reach a settlement or agree to a plea; the bailiff will announce this to the panel and instruct you to return to the jury room for further instructions. A settlement or plea does not mean a juror's time has been unproductive.
NOTE: You may be asked to complete a questionnaire either in the central jury room or after you arrive in the court. The information on these forms is used by the attorneys for both sides during the voir dire process to expedite the jury selection. The oath has been administered to you; therefore, you are still under oath when you answer these questions.