SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County residents will soon receive jury summonses, but they won’t need to go to the Bexar County Courthouse to answer the summons.
In an effort to keep residents safe from COVID-19 and to abide by social distancing guidelines set forth by the Texas Supreme Court, residents will not be required to appear in person. Instead, they must respond online and appear by video conference, according to a news release.
About 200 jury summonses are scheduled to be mailed to residents beginning Friday. Residents must reply no later than Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The official jury summon instructs potential jurors to visit www.bexar.org and answer a simple questionnaire that will help determine who sits on the virtual jury panel.
The questionnaire includes helpful information, including video conference or “Zoom” instructions, as well as a Zoom Meeting ID number that allows jurors to appear for jury duty and to serve safely. A phone number is also provided for assistance.
Potential jurors will be able to sit in the comfort of their homes while also sitting on a jury panel with the user-friendly video conferencing software called Zoom. For jurors who do not have WiFi or an electronic device, BibilioTech, the county’s online digital library, will supply hot spots and wireless devices for those who need one while they serve.
“As a first for Bexar County, these virtual juror summonses are essential to keep the wheels of Justice turning with the help of our community, which is needed now more than ever,” said 57th Civil District Court Judge Antonia “Toni” Arteaga.
The virtual civil duty will not be restricted to jury selection itself, according to Julieta Schulze, chief central jury bailiff.
“Jury Service as well as the trial will be virtual. It is 100% virtual from voir dire ( jury selection) to verdict,” she said.
There are exemptions from jury service. They include being a full-time student or if you are 70 years of age or older. The complete listing can be found at: https://www.bexar.org/364/JuryServices.
Once you complete an online survey, an opportunity to claim an exemption of service subject to approval by a judge will be available before jury selection begins.