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Eastern District of Texas

Honorable Rodney Gilstrap, Chief Judge
David A. O'Toole, Clerk of Court

Jury FAQs

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  • How am I selected for Jury Duty?

    Your name has been randomly selected from the voters registration list in your county. You were then mailed a Juror Qualification Questionnaire to complete and return to this court. Court personnel reviewed your questionnaire and determined that you are qualified to serve on a jury.

  • I have received a qualification questionnaire regarding Jury Duty. What do I need to know?

    The questionnaire is used to determine your legal eligibility to serve as a juror for our court. The most important thing to know is that you must complete and submit the questionnaire within 10 days of your receipt. You may complete the questionnaire online or return the form to the clerk's office.

    Pursuant to federal law, to be eligible for jury service in our court, you must be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old, and have resided for a period of one year within the judicial district. You must be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language well enough to complete the questionnaire.

    You may not serve as a juror if you have a pending charge for the commission of, or have been convicted in a state or federal court of record of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and your civil rights have not been restored.

    Individuals exempt from service are full-time military, police, firefighters, and public officers in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the federal government, or any state, district, territory, or possession thereof, who are actively engaged in the performance of official duties.

    You may request to be excused if you:

    a. are over the age of 70 years;

    b. serve in an official capacity without compensation as a firefighter or member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew for a public agency in accordance with 28 USC 1863(b)(5)(B), or

    c. have served on a federal grand or petit jury panel within the past 2 years.

    Whether you are qualified or not, or exempt or not, or seek to be excused or not, you must submit the form. If you have further questions regarding the questionnaire, please contact the jury department for the division in which you reside.

  • How do I find out the dates and times for reporting for Jury Duty?

    Our summons has instructions included with it. Please read those instructions carefully. It is imperative that you complete the Jury Information Card located at the bottom of the summons. In order to receive automated phone reminders or last minute changes to instructions, you must include your home phone number (or cell number if you do not have a home phone). Return the completed form immediately in the postage-paid envelope provided. Alternatively, you may complete the Juror Summons on-line.

    Please have your Participant Number available when you call (1-800-998-9056 ) or access the on-line juror reporting information section of the website at The 9-digit participant number is located to the right of the bar code. The bar code is above your name and address on the left side of the summons.

  • Where do I report?

    Please refer to your Juror Summons for reporting location and instructions.

  • What does the court consider an excuse?

    Persons described below may submit a request to be excused, which will be granted automatically under the court’s jury plan. (If you wish the court to consider a different reason for which jury service would cause you undue hardship or extreme inconvenience, follow the instructions provided in the FAQ below – May I request an excuse or deferral from jury duty?)

    Persons who will be automatically excused from jury service upon request:

    (1) A person who is over 70 years of age;

    (2) A person who has served in federal court as a grand or petit juror within the last two years (you must have appeared for service, not merely been summoned to appear);

    (3) A person who serves as a volunteer (without compensation) in an official capacity as a firefighter or a member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew for a public agency. A "public agency" for this purpose means the United States, any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or other territory of the United States, or any unit of local government, department, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.

    (4) A full-time student in a secondary school, college, university, or technical school.


  • May I request an excuse or deferral from Jury Duty?

    If you have received a questionnaire, please see the FAQ on QUALIFYING FOR JURY DUTY/QUALIFICATION QUESTIONNAIRE for exemptions and requests for excuse that may be submitted at that time. If you have received a summons, you may request to be exempted or excused for any of the reasons acceptable for submission during the questionnaire phase. See FAQ “What does the court consider an excuse”?

    If you believe that jury service would be an undue burden or hardship for these or any other reasons, promptly submit your request to be excused or deferred, which will be presented to the presiding judge for consideration. You may submit your excuse or deferment request Online .

    Your request must include your name, reporting date, participant number  and the reason you are requesting an excuse or deferment. Please be aware that if you report for jury service only to request an excuse, you will not be paid the $50.00 attendance fee if the excuse is granted.

  • Can I be late or leave the Jury Assembly Room or Courtroom?

    No, it is extremely important that you be prompt both in the morning and when returning from lunch. It is particularly important when serving on a trial because the entire proceeding can be delayed due to the tardiness of one juror. You are not allowed to leave the Jury Assembly Room or Courtroom without permission from the jury clerk or the presiding judge.

  • Will I serve on civil or criminal trials and what happens if I'm selected to serve on a trial?

    The court tries both civil and criminal cases, and it is possible that you may be selected for either. If you are selected to serve on a trial, you must follow the instructions of your trial judge or courtroom deputy.

  • What should I wear for Jury Duty?

    A courtroom is a serious setting, and the proceedings are of the utmost importance to the parties involved. You are playing an important role, too. Please wear appropriate business attire. Men are required to wear a coat and tie, if you do not own a coat contact the jury adminstrator. Shorts, tank tops, jeans, flip-flops and halters are not allowed.

  • What do I bring with me when I report for Jury Duty?

    Be sure to bring your FEDERAL JURY SUMMONS and a government issued PHOTO ID with you when you report for jury duty. Cell Phones, Cameras, Laptops, or Gaming Devices are not permitted.

  • What happens if I fail to report for Jury Duty?

    A person who fails to report for jury duty may be ordered to show cause for failure to comply with the summons. According to 28 U.S.C. § 1866(g), "Any person who fails to show good cause for noncompliance with a summons may be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than three days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof."

  • What is a Grand Jury?

    A Grand Jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The evidence is normally presented only by an attorney for the government. The grand jury must determine from this evidence whether a person should have formal charges filed by the government. If the grand jury finds probable cause, then it will return a written statement of the charges, called an indictment. Grand jurors are on a panel of 23 jurors and generally serve one to two days per month for 18 months. Grand jury terms may be extended for 6 months if necessary.

  • What is a Petit Jury?

    A Petit Jury is a trial jury for both civil and criminal cases. The petit jury listens to the evidence offered during a trial and returns a verdict. A verdict in a civil case may be a finding for the plaintiff or the defendant. A verdict in a criminal case finds the defendant involved guilty or not guilty.

  • Can my family reach me in case of emergency?

    Your cell phone or pager will not be allowed in the courthouse.  In case of an emergency, your family may contact a jury administrator or a member of the clerks office.

  • Will I be compensated for Jury Duty?

    You are paid a $50.00 attendance fee for each day you report for your assigned jury duty. You will not be paid if you appear and request to be excused for reasons which were well known to you at the time you completed the pre-screening questionnaire. Federal government employees will not be reimbursed the $50.00 attendance fee. You will receive the (current mileage rate) per mile round trip from your home to the Courthouse.

    If a juror travels more than 85 miles, one-way, that person has the option to stay at a hotel/motel with reimbursement according to the fee schedule for the division they will be serving jury duty in. Jurors need to call the Jury Administrator or Jury Clerk for the information prior. Hotel receipts will be required.

    You will receive your jury fee check within three to four weeks after your completion of service.

  • Must I report my jury fee to the Internal Revenue Service?

    Any income received for jury attendance must be reported as income for tax purposes. The court will issue you an IRS Form 1099 if your income from jury attendance exceeds $600. However, you do not need to report travel as income.

  • Is smoking allowed in the Federal Building/Courthouse?

    Smoking is permitted only outside.

  • What are the restrictions regarding what can be brought into the Courthouse?

    The entrance to the Federal Buildings and Courthouses are heavily guarded for your safety and protection. Electronic devices, weapons, pepper spray and sharp objects are prohibited. Please leave any of these types of items at home or in your vehicle.


  • What are the procedures for inclement weather?

    Please refer to the Inclement Weather Guidance. If there are concerns regarding inclement weather please contact the jury administrator.

  • What should I do if I receive a phone call threatening a fine and coercing me to provide confidential information?

    Do not provide any confidential information to these callers. You may call the jury administrator to clarify any misinformation.

  • What if my employer wants proof that I was serving on Jury Duty?

    You may request a Certificate of Attendance from the Jury Administrator or Jury Clerk. The certificate will be available before you leave the courthouse at the end of the day if you are not a selected juror, or at the end of the trial if you are selected. If your employer requires specific times of reporting and dismissal, you will need to advise the Jury Administrator or Jury Clerk.