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Jury Trials in Justice Court

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

How to ask for a jury trial in Justice Court.

How to ask for a jury trial in Justice Court, which hears evictions and small claims up to $20,000. Justice Court is also called Small Claims Court.

How can I get a jury to decide my Justice Court case?

Either side can request a jury trial. For non-eviction cases, you must ask for a jury trial no later than 14 days before the hearing date, or convince the judge that you had a good reason for not doing so.

In an eviction case, you must ask for a jury no later than three days before the trial date. This is because eviction cases have a short timeline.

All jury requests must be in writing. Check with the Justice Court to see if they have any forms to request a jury trial. If they do not, you may use this Jury Trial Request form.

Give the request to the court clerk and pay the fee. Some courts may allow you to eFile or even email your request. After you give the request to the court, give a copy to all other parties in the case. You can give it in person or send by certified mail, fax, or email (if the party has agreed to email service in writing). If the other party has an attorney, send it to the attorney—not directly to the party. If the court clerk stamps your request, be sure that you send a copy of the stamped document.

If you plan to use a fee waiver, be sure to file the fee waiver before you submit your jury request.

How much does a jury trial cost?

A jury trial costs $22.00, in addition to any other fees. There is no jury fee if the court approved your fee waiver in this case.

I asked for a jury trial. Can I change my mind?

You can withdraw your request for a jury trial if you change your mind. However, the other parties must agree. If they do not agree, the jury trial will go forward. Also, the court will not refund your jury fee.

How are jurors chosen?

The process of choosing a jury is called “voir dire.” At voir dire, the court will draw a list of potential jurors and give it to both sides. Both sides can ask the potential jurors questions and exclude those they don’t like. The judge may limit the time for questions, as well as prohibit certain questions. You may not ask the potential jurors how they would decide your case.

Challenges for cause: You can exclude any potential juror if you have a good reason. For example, you can ask to exclude someone for being biased. The judge will decide whether to grant each challenge for cause.

Challenges not for cause: After finishing any challenges for cause, you can decide to exclude up to three more jurors without giving a reason. These three exclusions are called “Challenges not for cause.”

After all challenges, the first six names still on the list will make up the jury.

What issues will the jury consider?

When deciding your case, the jury only considers questions of fact. For example, whether an event really happened as a witness describes. The judge decides any issues of law that affect the case, such as which laws apply to your case and what evidence is admissible.

What laws govern jury trials in Justice Court?

See Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 504. Rule 510.7 also discusses additional jury rules for eviction cases.


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