Utah Jury Selection
Jury selection is the procedure whereby persons from the community are called to court, questioned by the litigants as to their qualifications to serve as a juror and then either selected to or rejected to serve as a juror.
The master jury list for each county shall be a compilation of the following source lists[i]:
- Driver licenses and identification cards for citizens of the U.S., 18 years of age and older from the Drivers License Division of the Department of Public Safety;
- The official register of voters from the Elections Division of the Office of the Lt. Governor.
- The Judicial Council may use additional source lists to improve the inclusiveness of the master jury list for a county.
The term of availability of jurors shall be:
- One month for the trial courts of record in Salt Lake county;
- Three months for the trial courts of record in Davis, Utah, and Weber counties;
- Six months for all other courts unless otherwise ordered by the court.
Questionnaires are served to people whose names emerge from the random selection. Court personnel review the completed questionnaires to make sure that the minimum juror qualifications relating to age, citizenship and residency are met. The master jury list shall contain the name, address, and date of birth of each person listed and any other identifying or demographic information deemed necessary by the state court administrator.
The state court administrator shall maintain the master list on a data base accessible to the district courts and justice courts of the state. Based on a random selection, the state court administrator shall provide the number of jurors requested by the court. From this list, the court qualifies prospective jurors. The names of prospective jurors shall be delivered to the requesting court in the random order in which they were selected from the master jury list.
The court shall maintain that random order through summons, assignment to panels, selection for voir dire, peremptory challenges, and final call to serve as a juror. The number of prospective jurors requested should be based upon the size of the panel, any alternates, the total number of peremptory challenges, and anticipated number of prospective jurors to be postponed.
The court clerk shall mail to each prospective juror a qualification form. The prospective juror shall file the answers to the questions with the clerk within ten days after it is received. The state court administrator prepares a uniform form for use by all courts. In addition to the information required by statute, the qualification form shall contain information regarding the length of service, procedures and grounds for requesting an excuse or postponement.
If a prospective juror is unable to complete the answers, they may be completed by another person. However, such person shall indicate that fact. If the clerk determines that there is an omission, ambiguity, or error in the answers, s/he shall return the form to the prospective juror with instructions to make the necessary addition, clarification, or correction and to file the answers within ten days after it is received.
The clerk shall review all answers and record the prospective juror as qualified or disqualified as defined by statute. If the clerk finds that the prospective juror is not qualified to serve as a juror, s/he shall notify the same to the court administrator. The state court administrator shall accordingly update the master jury list[ii].
If a prospective juror fails to respond to the qualification questionnaire and the form is not returned by the U.S. postal service as undeliverable, the clerk shall mail the qualification form a second time with a notice that failure to answer the questions may result in a court order requiring the prospective juror to appear in person before the clerk to complete the qualification form. If a prospective juror fails to answer the questions after the second mailing, the qualification form and a summons may be delivered to the sheriff for personal service upon the prospective juror. The summons shall require the prospective juror to answer the questions and file them with the court within ten days or to appear before the clerk to prepare the form. Any prospective juror who fails to answer the questions or to appear as ordered shall be subject to the sanctions set forth in the Utah Code.
After consultation with the judges or the presiding judge of the court, the clerk shall determine the number of jurors needed for a particular day. The number of prospective jurors summoned should be based upon the number of panels, size of the panels, any alternates, the total number of peremptory challenges plus the anticipated number of prospective jurors to be postponed, excused from service or removed for cause. The clerk shall summon the smallest number of prospective jurors reasonably necessary to select a trial jury.
Persons on the qualified juror list may be excused from jury service, either before or after summons, for undue hardship, public necessity or because the person is incapable of jury service under the Utah Code[iii]. If there are insufficient numbers of prospective jurors to fill all jury panels, the judge shall direct the clerk to summon from the qualified jury list such additional jurors as necessary. The clerk shall make every reasonable effort to contact the prospective jurors in the order listed on the qualified jury list.
If a prospective juror is removed from one panel, s/he may be reassigned to another panel if the need exists and if there are no prospective jurors remaining unassigned. Qualified jurors may be selected for voir dire in the random order in which they appear on the qualified jury list, or may be selected in any other random order.
If there is any insufficiency of prospective jurors to fill all jury panels, the judge shall direct the clerk to summon from the qualified jury list such additional jurors as necessary. The clerk shall make every reasonable effort to contact the prospective jurors in the order listed on the qualified jury list. If the clerk is unable to obtain a sufficient number of jurors in a reasonable period of time, the court may use any lawful method for acquiring a jury.
[i] Utah R. Judicial Admin Rule 4-404
[iii] Utah Code Ann. § 78B-1-109