House Bill No. 5850

Public Act No. 01-152

AN ACT CONCERNING PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES IN A CIVIL ACTION.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 51-241 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

On the trial of any civil action to a jury, each party may challenge peremptorily three jurors. Where the court determines a unity of interest exists, several plaintiffs or several defendants may be considered as a single party for the purpose of making challenges, or the court may allow additional peremptory challenges and permit them to be exercised separately or jointly. For the purposes of this section, a "unity of interest" means that the interests of the several plaintiffs or of the several defendants are substantially similar. A unity of interest shall be found to exist among parties who are represented by the same attorney or law firm. In addition, there shall be a presumption that a unity of interest exists among parties where no cross claims or apportionment complaints have been filed against one another. In all civil actions, the total number of peremptory challenges allowed to the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall not exceed twice the number of peremptory challenges allowed to the defendant or defendants, and the total number of peremptory challenges allowed to the defendant or defendants shall not exceed twice the number of peremptory challenges allowed to the plaintiff or plaintiffs.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 51-243 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) In any civil action to be tried to the jury in the Superior Court, if it appears to the court that the trial is likely to be protracted, the court may, in its discretion, direct that, after a jury has been selected, two or more additional jurors shall be added to the jury panel, to be known as "alternate jurors". Alternate jurors shall have the same qualifications and be selected and subject to examination and challenge in the same manner and to the same extent as the jurors constituting the regular panel. In any case when the court directs the selection of alternate jurors, each party may peremptorily challenge four jurors. Where the court determines a unity of interest exists, several plaintiffs or several defendants may be considered as a single party for the purpose of making challenges, or the court may allow additional peremptory challenges and permit them to be exercised separately or jointly. For the purposes of this subsection, a "unity of interest" means that the interests of the several plaintiffs or of the several defendants are substantially similar. A unity of interest shall be found to exist among parties who are represented by the same attorney or law firm. In addition, there shall be a presumption that a unity of interest exists among parties where no cross claims or apportionment complaints have been filed against one another. In all civil actions, the total number of peremptory challenges allowed to the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall not exceed twice the number of peremptory challenges allowed to the defendant or defendants, and the total number of peremptory challenges allowed to the defendant or defendants shall not exceed twice the number of peremptory challenges allowed to the plaintiff or plaintiffs.

Approved July 6, 2001