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Jury Selection

A Superior or State Court judge sends a request to the Clerk of Court's office for a certain number of jurors for the upcoming term of court. There are two terms of court each year, one starting in January and the other in July. Each term of court lasts at least six months. Jury trials may occur at any time during that time period.

The jury commissioners compile a jury list or jury box from the voter registration list and other sources. Names are randomly drawn from the list. Names in the "Jury Box" come from various sources, among them the voters' list and the phone directory. Residents may also request to have their names included. The resulting list of potential jurors is then "balanced" by age, race and gender. Balancing" a jury list means making sure the jurors represent, as closely as possible, the age, race and gender of the population of the county.

Once the names have been chosen, the office of the Clerk of Court prints and mails a summons to each juror. The summons lists the name of the judge who is requesting the juror and the date and time the juror should appear.

Selection of the jury continues by a process known as striking the jury. It gets its name because the parties alternately strike names so as to excuse qualified persons from the panel until the number is reduced by one-half. An attorney's decision to strike you as a juror should not be interpreted as a reflection of your personal qualifications as a juror. The remaining jurors will be administered the juror's oath and will constitute the jury that tries the case.

In civil cases, a panel of potential jurors is asked questions by the judge and the attorneys to determine whether each panel member is qualified to serve. This questioning process is called "voir dire." A juror who is related to any of the parties or has already formed an opinion about the case will be excused and another substituted. This process is continued until there is a full panel of 24 from which a jury of 12 persons may be selected.

In the selection of a jury in non-capitol felony cases, the court empanels 30 jurors and each juror is questioned by counsel for either side. The attorneys are each entitled to strike as many as nine jurors, leaving 12 to constitute the trial jury.

In misdemeanor cases, the court empanels 12 jurors, and the attorneys may strike three each, resulting in a six person trial jury.