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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?

    Please see the information found on the main Jurors page of our website.

  • I have received a qualification questionnaire regarding Jury Duty (or a postcard asking that I complete a qualification questionnaire). 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 using the eJuror instructions or return the form to the clerk's office. (If you received a postcard and cannot complete the questionnaire online, you must follow the instructions on the postcard to request that a paper questionnaire be mailed to you.)

    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, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year unless your right to serve on a jury has been restored.

    The following persons are exempt (and therefore barred) from jury service: members in active service in the U.S. Armed Forces, members of non-federal government police or fire departments, and public officials of the United States, state, or local governments elected to public office or directly appointed by one elected to office.

    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);

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

    d. are a full-time student in a secondary school, college, university, or technical school.

    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.

  • I have received a summons to report for jury duty. 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 Form located at the bottom of the summons, either online using eJuror or by returning the form in the postage-paid envelope. To receive automated phone reminders or last-minute changes to instructions, you must provide your telephone number.

  • 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 what you need to know if you have received a qualification questionnaire to learn about exemptions and automatic excuses upon request. Even if you are exempt or eligible for automatic excuse, you must still complete the qualification questionnaire.

    If you received a summons to report for jury duty, the same exemptions and automatic excuse opportunities also apply at that stage, but the court will also consider requests for deferral from persons who believe that jury service would be an undue burden or hardship. If you are granted a deferral, at the time your hardship is anticipated to have passed, the clerk will return your name to the qualified wheel for potential random resummoning. You may submit your excuse or deferment request online using eJuror.

    A request for excuse or deferral should be submitted as soon as practicable after you receive your summons, and if you do not use eJuror, it must include your name, reporting date, participant number and the reason for your request. 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?

    Each judge sets the acceptable attire for his or her courtroom. Follow the instructions you received with your jury summons. If you have concerns about your ability to meet the expected dress code, contact the jury clerk prior to your appearance. If necessary, the Court can usually loan necessary items.

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

    Please bring your FEDERAL JURY SUMMONS and a government issued PHOTO ID with you. Please lock electronic devices in your vehicle as they are not permitted.

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

    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." A person who fails to report for jury duty may be ordered to show cause for failure to comply with the summons. As you would be given an opportunity to show cause for your failure to appear, you should never pay anyone who contacts you over the phone to demand money for failure to appear for jury duty. Courts do not demand payments over the telephone.

  • 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?

    Most jurors will be paid a $50.00 attendance fee for each day of service, and all will receive the current mileage rate per mile round trip from their home to the Courthouse. Federal government employees will not be reimbursed the $50.00 attendance fee unless their service falls on a regularly scheduled day off. You will not be paid if you appear and request to be excused for reasons that were well known to you at the time you completed the Jury Information Form.

    If you travel more than 85 miles one-way, and you deem that to be a hardship, you may request to stay at a hotel that offers a rate within the guideline limit for federal employees. Please call the Jury Administrator or Jury Clerk for information prior to your appearance. Stays are usually authorized after a juror is selected to serve on a trial. Hotel receipts will be required.

    Please follow the parking instructions noted on your summons instructions. All divisions provide juror parking at no cost; therefore, the court cannot reimburse any expense related to parking (including tickets or fines if you park in an unauthorized location).

    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. Travel reimbursements do not need to be reported 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 entrances to federal buildings and courthouses are heavily guarded for occupant safety and protection. Electronic devices, weapons, pepper spray, and sharp objects are prohibited.


  • 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/or coercing me to provide confidential information?

    Do not provide any confidential information to these callers and never pay them over the telephone. 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. Please advise us if your employer requires specific times of reporting and dismissal.