February 19, 2002
QUESTIONS ABOUT JURY SELECTION
By: Christopher Reinhart, Associate Attorney
You asked (1) how a person is selected for jury duty, (2) whether a person on the voting list who does not vote is less likely to be chosen for jury duty, (3) whether someone can be removed from the list at age 70, and (4) whether a person can be removed from the list because of a nervous condition.
The jury administrator selects juror names at random from a jury pool list compiled from voter, licensed driver, unemployment compensation recipient, and state personal income taxpayer lists. The administrator annually combines the lists, deleting duplicate names where possible so that names only appear once.
Names are selected at random from the list and each person on the list has the same probability of being selected as every other person. As long as a person's name remains on the voter list or any of the other lists that are used to create the jury pool, that person has the same probability of being selected as anyone else, regardless of whether the person voted.
Someone who is age 70 or over can choose not to perform jury service. The jury administrator is authorized to create and maintain a list of people who are excluded from jury service for certain reasons and this includes those who are 70 and over and request not to be summoned.
No provision expressly allows a person with a nervous condition to be removed from the jury list. But a person can be removed from the list if he is permanently disqualified from jury duty because of a disability. A licensed physician must state in a letter that the person's disability is permanent and prevents satisfactory jury service. A judge can also disqualify a person from jury service if the judge finds that the person has a quality that impairs his capacity to serve as a juror.
COMPILING THE JURY POOL LIST
Once a year, the jury administrator estimates the number of jurors each judicial district will need for the upcoming year. Among other factors, he considers the number of judges assigned to jury trials, the type of cases that will come to trial during the period, and the past experiences of the courts (CGS § 51-219b). The administrator divides the number of jurors proportionally among the state's 169 towns according to each town's population from the most recent U.S. census (CGS § 51-220).
The jury administrator creates a jury pool list from voter, licensed driver, unemployment compensation recipient, and state personal income taxpayer lists. The administrator annually combines the lists, deleting duplicate names where possible so that names only appear once. Jurors are selected at random from the list to meet the court system's needs (CGS § 51-222a). The random selection system gives each person on the list the same probability of being selected as every other person.
The jury administrator may adjust the number of jurors from each town within a judicial district if the number is too low or too high. He apportions the change among all of the towns within the judicial district in proportion to the town populations when possible (CGS § 51-219c).
The chief court administrator can authorize the jury administrator to use the previous year's master file to summon jurors if the new one is unavailable or defective (CGS §51-222a(d)).
EXCLUSIONS FROM THE SUMMONING PROCESS
The jury administrator is authorized to create and maintain a list of people to be excluded from the juror summoning process. The list must include (1) people permanently disqualified from jury duty because of a disability, (2) people age 70 or older who ask not to be summoned, and (3) constitutional officers and judges during their terms of office. The law disqualifies these people from jury service. Anyone who is permanently disabled or age 70 or older must give the jury administrator his name, address, date of birth, and federal Social Security number for use in matching names. A disabled person must also submit a letter from a licensed physician stating that the disability is permanent and prevents him from giving satisfactory jury service. A person can rescind a request to be excluded at any time by written notice to the jury administrator (CGS §51-217(c)).
The constitutional officers are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer, comptroller, and attorney general. Judges include family support magistrates and judges of the probate court, Superior Court, Appellate Court, Supreme Court, and federal court.
Also, the Department of Public Health commissioner must annually give the jury administrator the most recent list of deceased people. The administrator can remove these names from the jury pool and also remove the names of other deceased people if the public health commissioner provides the death certificates or other satisfactory proof (CGS §51-219a(d)).
PEOPLE DISQUALIFIED FROM JURY SERVICE
Jurors must be at least age 18 and electors or U.S. citizens who are residents with a home in the state. A person is disqualified from jury service if he:
1. has a quality (but not deafness or hearing impairment) that the judge finds impairs his capacity to serve as a juror;
2. had a felony conviction in the past seven years, is a defendant in a pending felony case, or is in the custody of the correction commissioner;
3. cannot speak and understand English;
4. is a constitutional officer;
5. is a family support magistrate or judge of the probate court, Superior Court, Appellate Court, Supreme Court, or federal court;
6. is a member of the General Assembly while in session;
7. is age 70 or older and chooses not to perform jury service; or
8. is incapable of rendering satisfactory jury service due to physical or mental disability (with a letter from a licensed physician stating his opinion) (CGS § 51-217).
The jury administrator may excuse a person for extreme hardship (CGS § 51-217(b)). He can also cancel jury service for good cause, including when (1) the called juror's town of residence is switched to a different judicial district than the one to which he was originally called and (2) there is a reduced need for jurors. If jury service is canceled for the latter reason, the jury administrator must excuse people on a random basis (CGS § 51-219a).
EXEMPTIONS FOR PREVIOUS SERVICE
People called for jury service must be excused, at their request, if they were called and not excused from service during the preceding three years (CGS § 51-217a). A person is not credited with service if he was excused or if his service was canceled before he actually came into court. But he is given credit if he was in court and available for service for as little as one day and did not ask to be excused.
When the number of jurors available for service for a jury year is exhausted, a juror may be impaneled if it is at least three months since his previous attendance as a juror. The provisions excusing service within three years and limits on the length of jury service do not apply in these circumstances (CGS § 51-232b).