Dianna Brandborg doesn't think the TV shows she watches or the books she reads have anything to do with serving on a jury.

A judge did, though, and gave her three days in jail for not answering 12 of 100 questions posed to prospective jurors in a murder trial.Now Brandborg finds herself at the center of a debate over how much personal information potential jurors should be forced to divulge.

The 48-year-old office manager was in the jury pool for the trial of a man accused of killing two teen-agers in Denton. She answered "not applicable" to questions about her income, religion, TV shows and books she enjoys, political affiliation and outside activities, among others.

"I had served on jury duty before, but I had never seen a questionnaire of 100 questions and so many personal ones. I was appalled," she said.

A higher court March 9 stayed the jail sentence handed out by District Judge Sam Houston before she served any time. The case is on appeal.

Several attorneys and legal experts said personal questions must be answered to ensure a fair trial.

"Every defendant is entitled to an unbiased jury," said Wes Mau, staff counsel at the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. "And in order to provide that protection . . . you've got to be able to get enough information from the potential juror to determine who's going to be appropriate."

"The lawyers need an awful lot of information in selecting a jury, and some of it by definition is personal," said Paula Sweeney, a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association executive committee. "(But) almost any privacy consideration is going to take back seat to a life-and-liberty consideration."

But Brandborg's attorney, Rick Hagen, said there's no law requiring jurors to answer all questions.

"There's been, at least here locally, an assumption that what happened in the courtroom was `the law,' and it had to be done," he said. "It didn't have to be done. Making a juror answer or not answer is discretionary with any judge."

Judges often allow jurors to answer sensitive questions in private, then decide whether the answer needs to be made available to the lawyers, he said.

Pat Hazel, a University of Texas law professor who teaches trial advocacy and civil procedure, said most judges will examine whether an objectionable question is relevant. And jurors often are allowed to discuss their answers confidentially with the judge, he said.

Don Doig, co-founder of Montana-based Fully Informed Jury Association, which informs jurors of their rights, said he expects to see more people like Brandborg who risk jail rather than answer a jury question.

"It's been part of our reform package for some time that jurors' privacy should be respected," he said.

The end result of Brandborg's battle could be a new law. Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson said she has heard from former jurors across Texas who support more protection for prospective jurors.



Samples from a juror questionnaire:

- Religious preference, name and location of church or temple, past or present church offices held.

- What kind of vehicle do you drive? Your spouse?

- Do you have any bumper stickers on your car? Describe.

- Do you contribute services or financially to any charitable organization?

- What are your hobbies or favorite recreations?

- What television programs, if any, do you regularly watch?

- What area newspapers do you read? What sections do you read regularly?

- What is your political preference?

- How do you feel about the death penalty?