Jury Service

The following is from the Texas Uniform Jury Handbook as authorized by Chapter 23 of the Government Code.

Order of Events at a Trial

The following are the order of events of the trial:

  • Opening Statements: The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for you to decide.
  • Presentation Of Evidence: The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the Judge. Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations. You have a right to ask for them. You will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts.
  • Rulings By The Judge: The Judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the Judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their verdict is based upon proper evidence, as determined by the Judge under the Rules of Evidence. You may give the evidence whatever weight you consider appropriate.
  • Instructions To The Jury: At the close of all the evidence, the Judge may submit to the jury the Charge of the Court. This will include legal instructions on this particular case and the questions that the jury is to answer from the evidence admitted.
  • Closing Arguments: After the Charge of the Court, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments and to try to persuade the jury to accept their client's view of the case.
  • Deliberations And Verdict Of The Jury: Following closing arguments, the jury is sent to deliberate. When the jury has answered the questions asked of them they shall return their verdict. The verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented by the parties, the Charge of the Court, and the rules of law provided by the Judge.
  • When In Doubt, Ask The Judge: You have the right to communicate with the Judge regarding any matters affecting your deliberations, including but not limited to: 1) physical comfort, 2) special needs, 3) any questions regarding evidence; or, 4) the Charge of the Court. During deliberation, if it becomes necessary to communicate with the Judge, the bailiff or the officer of the court will deliver jurors' notes to the Judge. The information in this handbook is not intended to take the place of the instructions given by the Judge in any case. In the event of conflict, the Judge's instructions will prevail.