Jury selection is the procedure whereby persons from the community are called to court, questioned by the litigants as to their qualifications to serve as a juror and then either selected to or rejected to serve as a juror.
In Texas, following are the qualifications to serve as a petit juror[i]:
- S/he must be at least 18 years of age;
- S/he must be a citizen of the state and of the county in which the person is to serve as a juror;
- S/he must be qualified under the constitution and laws to vote in the county in which the person is to serve as a juror;
- S/he must be of sound mind and good moral character;
- S/he must be able to read and write;
- S/he must not have served as a petit juror for six days during the preceding three months in the county court or during the preceding six months in the district court;
- S/he must not be convicted of misdemeanor theft or a felony; and
- S/he is not under indictment or other legal accusation for misdemeanor theft or a felony.
The county clerk and the sheriff of the county draws the names of the prospective jurors for a county court from the jury wheel in the presence and under the direction of the county judge. They draws the names of the prospective jurors.
The Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System develops and maintains a questionnaire to accompany a written jury summons. It must include a copy of the questionnaire that requires a person to provide his/her biographical and demographic information that is relevant to service as a jury member. A person who has received a written jury summons and a written jury summons questionnaire must complete and submit the same when the person reports for jury duty[ii].
When the jurors appear for jury service, the judge selects from the names on the jury lists a sufficient number of qualified jurors to serve on the jury panel. If the court finds that the number of prospective jurors present is insufficient, the judge orders to summon additional prospective jurors. They are discharged when their services are no longer required[iii]. The judge may direct to add alternate jurors to be called and impaneled with the regular jurors. They are drawn and selected in the same manner as regular jurors. An alternate juror must meet the same qualifications, same examination and challenges, take the same oath, same functions, powers, and privileges, and shall be provided the same facilities and security as a regular juror.
Each side is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition if one or two alternate jurors are to be impaneled. Each side is entitled to two peremptory challenges in addition if three or four alternate jurors are to be impaneled. The additional peremptory challenges may be used against an alternate juror only, and the other peremptory challenges may not be used against an alternate juror[iv].
[i] Tex. Gov’t Code § 62.102
[ii] Tex. Gov’t Code § 62.0132
[iii] Tex. Gov’t Code § 62.015
[iv] Tex. Gov’t Code § 62.020