Consequences for not showing up for jury duty

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It happens to just about everyone who has a driver's license in the state of Texas. At one time or another, you will probably get that summons to appear in court for jury duty and each county can set its own rules for having someone appear. They also have their own way of dealing with potential jurors who don't bother showing up at their pre-destined time and place.

In Randall county, District Clerk Jo Carter says they start with trying to notify a missing juror by mail.

"We send a summons to appear before the judge, and (let them know), they can be held in contempt of court."

The summons is sent out and the juror is asked to appear and explain why he or she didn't bother to show up. State law allows monetary fines for failure to answer a summons, of not less than $100.00 and not more than $1000.00. Carter says it depends on the situation and if they choose to, they could send out deputies to round up unexcused jurors, but haven't had to do that.

In Potter county, Anna Ratliff, Jury room supervisor, says they also send out a letter notifying people they've missed their court date as a potential juror. Those people are not required to stand before a judge, but must give an explanation as to why they missed, and they too, can face the same state fines as imposed in Randall county.

In the past though, deputies have been sent out to find those missing jurors, but in only in extreme situations, like murder cases.

In most events, extra jurors are almost always summoned to make sure the jury pool is large enough, but Ratliff wanted to stress the need for jurors to show up when they are called.

"Most people show up to do their duty, but when they don't it puts stress on the system, and if they were in some other countries, they wouldn't even have the chance to be a juror."

So be forewarned, if you're summoned to appear for jury duty and don't make it, you'll receive another summons that may carry a fine, or in extreme cases, the long arm of the law may be knocking on your door looking for you.