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Older Texans, but < 75 Y.O.A. - Change in Jury Duty law
Old 09-19-2023, 11:38 PM   #1
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Older Texans, but < 75 Y.O.A. - Change in Jury Duty law

Hidden away, nobody noticed, was a law change in the 2023 Texas Legislative session. Just found out about it today, thanks to a lawyer who writes a column for the Sunday senior page in the local big-city newspaper. Heard zero about it before.

Effective 9/1/23, the exemption choice from Jury Duty for those age 70 and over is gone. The age has been jacked up to age 75!

Before, when you attained age 70, when you received the summons or "request" to fill out online the questionnaire (in preparation for a summons), if you so desired, you could decline, citing your age. You could also, if you so desired, tell the County Clerk not to bother you anymore about Jury Duty. And you could rescind this "don't bother me anymore", anytime you chose, or not at all.
This made it easier on older folks who may have trouble or feel ill at ease driving to the courthouse, like in urban/suburban high-speed traffic nightmares, or long periods of sitting, all sorts of reasons more common with aging, etc. etc.
To me, that was respecting our elderly. Well, pfffft!

Now it's been boosted to age 75. I do not understand this "hate the elderly" attitude. If now 75, ... why not 80? Do I hear 85? 85! 90 90 90, going once, going... wait, he's already dayd!

It's House Bill #2015 of the 2023 session. And it was signed by the governor back in May or June of this year. Stealth.
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Old 09-20-2023, 03:50 AM   #2
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In England and Wales the age was raised to 75 in 2016, but you can decline if you don’t feel up to it. Maybe the proposed new Texas law will have a similar exemption?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/j...land-and-wales


Quote:
Justice Minister, Sir Oliver Heald QC, said:

“Trial by jury is a fundamental part of our world-leading justice system and it is important that our juries reflect today’s society.

“People are living longer, healthier lives, so it is right that our courts are able to benefit from the wisdom and experience that older people can offer.”

Previously only people aged 18 to 70 were eligible to sit as jurors.

As with everyone who is selected for jury service, individuals over the age of 70 will be able to apply for an excusal if they feel incapable of carrying out their duties.
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Old 09-20-2023, 08:15 AM   #3
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In England and Wales the age was raised to 75 in 2016, but you can decline if you donít feel up to it. Maybe the proposed new Texas law will have a similar exemption?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/j...land-and-wales
Unfortunately, no. Only a letter from a doctor saying the person is incapable.

I see the UK rule was an upper limit to participate, different than the Texas "you-will-participate" but opt-out if desired at 70 (now increased to 75). The TX has the same text as before, just the 70 crossed out and 75 inserted.
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Old 09-20-2023, 08:23 AM   #4
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So for those of us between 70 and 75 and have already permanently opt'd out, are we back in now?
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Old 09-20-2023, 08:23 AM   #5
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Wife just received summons in Texas on Monday; I was surprised by the 75 age requirement; thank you for the explanation.

I have always wanted to be on a jury. I finally got called a few years ago but never made it to second stage; all of these folks were in there wanting to get out and I was saying "pick me pick me" and they never did.

Marc
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Old 09-20-2023, 08:27 AM   #6
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To the best of my knowledge, it has always been 75 in Connecticut. I just filled out my online questionnaire for the federal court here. They may call me for duty, but it is unlikely that I will be picked for a jury given my background as an assistant attorney general. The last time I was a venireman in state court, the two opposing counsel said "you can go" as soon as I stepped into the room for questioning.
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:08 AM   #7
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You know, in thinking about this a little more, Gov Abbott has passed a few other laws in the past year or two that I really don't like. I even wrote a few letters to my rep's on one last year, that was still being debated, that I really didn't like. Probably others that I just don't know about. I guess you take the good with the bad.
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:17 AM   #8
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I have always wanted to be on a jury. I finally got called a few years ago but never made it to second stage; all of these folks were in there wanting to get out and I was saying "pick me pick me" and they never did.
I agree. I'm 70 and have been called but never put on a jury. The one case where I got into voir dire (which they pronounce "voyer-dy-er" out here in the hinterlands) I was thrown out on a peremptory challenge because I worked for an insurance company. The plaintiff's side usually doesn't want us in civil cases. Some coworkers ended up empaneled in ugly criminal trials.

Late in 2020 I got a letter asking me to show up but I was able to get deferred due to COVID since I was over 65. The next time I was called I got an e-mail the night before telling me I wasn't needed and wouldn't be called for another 3 years.

So I'm still waiting. I think I'd be pretty darned good on a civil trial but may never find out.
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:21 AM   #9
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I was called four times during the 25 years I lived in our previous state. Only made it to a trial once, but it was most interesting (a murder trial).

Eight years in our current state, and haven't been called. Probably never will be, due to age (although there is no maximum), but I think I'd enjoy doing it again. Hey, what else would I do all day?
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:27 AM   #10
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When I had jury duty in NY many of the jurors were in their 70ís. They did it because it got them out of the house and gave them some spending money.
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:38 AM   #11
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I do not see a problem with this... I think it is one of the civic duties that we should participate...


My 81 YO sister still goes to jury duty... and I bet Houston is a harder place to do so than many in Texas...



I just finished a grand jury stint... it was really interesting to do... would love to do it again but probably will never get the chance..
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Old 09-20-2023, 09:46 AM   #12
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I do not see a problem with this... I think it is one of the civic duties that we should participate...


My 81 YO sister still goes to jury duty... and I bet Houston is a harder place to do so than many in Texas...



I just finished a grand jury stint... it was really interesting to do... would love to do it again but probably will never get the chance..
It's a zoo in Houston... Hundreds (if not a couple of thousand) start off the morning in the general assembly room. Then they get divided up to go to individual courts and then the selection process starts. You'll be very lucky to know if you are going to actually be on a jury by early afternoon. A few trails will start that afternoon but most start on the next day. And to top it off, the big/main courts are in downtown Houston. That by itself is a mess. Reminds me of herding cattle through the pens.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:31 AM   #13
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I do not see a problem with this... I think it is one of the civic duties that we should participate...
I agree. I got myself deferred only that one time due to a legitimate fear of COVID since vaccines weren't available till a couple of months later.

I used to work for a law firm during the summers in college and the older partner was chuckling once about doing a favor for a female friend who'd been called. She was in his age group (likely over 60) and didn't want to serve so he called the judge and told him the lady was pregnant. That was before they had birth dates readily available in the computer records, of course. I didn't say anything at the time but I think he should have told her to do her civic duty and show up.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:36 AM   #14
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I do not see a problem with this... I think it is one of the civic duties that we should participate...

My 81 YO sister still goes to jury duty... and I bet Houston is a harder place to do so than many in Texas...

I just finished a grand jury stint... it was really interesting to do... would love to do it again but probably will never get the chance..
But that was your sister's choice to go. For all the "freedom, freedom" I hear expressed in TX, our state legislature continues to turn the screws on people, counties, and municipalities. Well, I ain't feelin' the freedom now.

It is a long harrowing drive to the courthouse for me. Driving a large part of it on an expressway that has totally crazy people on it, the crashes almost always end with fatalities. The "rush hour" is many hours in the morning and afternoon/evening. Traffic never really calms down. I don't use that expressway because of it. But there is no other way to get there for me. I have tried leaving early, in winter long before sunrise, to sit in parking lot till building opens. It's a long long day, and whenever we get out, it's the crazy drive home. I've had enough of it. I've done my duty for years, and have tired of this. And I'm tired of this "do your civic duty" trope. I have, it's time for others. I'm not bothering anybody, leave me alone already. Let's give elderly people who've done the bit for years a break.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:46 AM   #15
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So for those of us between 70 and 75 and have already permanently opt'd out, are we back in now?
Reading the law yesterday, you are back in the prospective pool, as no mention was made of previous decisions a person may have made. In reality, it probably depends on how faithful your county election department works, whether in time they go through the opted-out list and cancel the opt-outs for all people in the 70 through 74.999 group. There is mention that each county shall maintain a list of all who have opted out, which is same as before.

Literally, the only markup from the previous law, was to replace age 70, with 75.
So the sword of Damocles may be hanging over your head.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:49 AM   #16
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I have been summoned several times, mostly local county court, but once for 2 year federal (that was for late 2019 for 2020-2021 service--good timing on my part, very little in person juries then!).
My "number" was called only once at local court, made it to the courthouse, actually placed on a jury. Interesting to watch our system work.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:51 AM   #17
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Well I never thought any government entity would change the rules on us. NOT! Of course some recent rule changes have been good. (e.g. RMD's)

If called I may serve even though I opt'd out earlier and it was accepted under the old rules. Sort of like being in the draft "twice" from my POV
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Old 09-20-2023, 11:31 AM   #18
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Now it's been boosted to age 75. I do not understand this "hate the elderly" attitude. If now 75, ... why not 80?
I don't take it as hating on anyone, if anything, they are implying that 70 isn't as old as it used to seem. That folks are capable and able to serve just as well as those younger vs being sent to pasture too soon.

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When I had jury duty in NY many of the jurors were in their 70ís. They did it because it got them out of the house and gave them some spending money.
In FL you can exempt at 70, but the pay is silly. $15 per day the first 3, $30 per day after that. Barely covers gas and a vending machine lunch.

I'm due to call in in 2 weeks hoping to get skipped this time.
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Old 09-20-2023, 11:41 AM   #19
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But that was your sister's choice to go. For all the "freedom, freedom" I hear expressed in TX, our state legislature continues to turn the screws on people, counties, and municipalities. Well, I ain't feelin' the freedom now.

It is a long harrowing drive to the courthouse for me. Driving a large part of it on an expressway that has totally crazy people on it, the crashes almost always end with fatalities. The "rush hour" is many hours in the morning and afternoon/evening. Traffic never really calms down. I don't use that expressway because of it. But there is no other way to get there for me. I have tried leaving early, in winter long before sunrise, to sit in parking lot till building opens. It's a long long day, and whenever we get out, it's the crazy drive home. I've had enough of it. I've done my duty for years, and have tired of this. And I'm tired of this "do your civic duty" trope. I have, it's time for others. I'm not bothering anybody, leave me alone already. Let's give elderly people who've done the bit for years a break.



Yes it is.... BUT.... I also think it is a civic duty to be on a jury... you should not get all the benefits of government without some time spent helping out... also, do not complain about the horrible crime if you are not willing to be on a jury to put somebody guilty away...



I think that the roll here in Houston last about 5 or so years... it might be different other places but being called every 5 or so years for a day or so of duty is not going to change your life...


I know here you can use public transportation for free... just drive to the local park and ride and take the bus...
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Old 09-20-2023, 11:54 AM   #20
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I don't take it as hating on anyone, if anything, they are implying that 70 isn't as old as it used to seem. That folks are capable and able to serve just as well as those younger vs being sent to pasture too soon...
If in Texas, over 70 was still optional, I would agree. But they now made up to 75 mandatory. So I don't agree. Degrees of mobility, access, stress, is a don't care.

I suspect, but of course I do not know, that there is a higher percentage of responding to summons among the elderly when its mandatory. As opposed to percentage of younger people showing up. So instead of going after the younger people for failure to perform their duty, they just decided to grab some low-hanging fruit that's aging. Less work.
I use "elderly" as the defined age for the crimes against the elderly boost in sentencing, which is age 65 and older.
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