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.
In Kansas, for a person to be qualified as a juror h/she:
- Must be citizen of the United States and a resident of the county in which they have been summoned to serve;
- Possess the qualification of elector;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Have not been adjudged incompetent by a court;
- Must be able to read, write and comprehend the English language;
- Cannot have been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years.
At least 30 days before a juror service is required, the clerk of the county shall draw from the jury box the names of persons to serve as jurors and the names of 24 persons to serve as petit jurors.
In all civil trials, upon the request of a party, the court shall cause enough jurors to be called, examined, and passed for cause before any peremptory challenges are required. Therefore, there will at least twelve jurors, after the number of peremptory challenges allowed by law for the case on trial shall have been exhausted. Peremptory challenge refers to a right in jury selection for the defense and prosecution to reject a certain number of potential jurors who appear to have an unfavorable bias without having to give any reason. Other potential jurors may be challenged for cause, i.e. by giving a reason why they might be unable to reach a fair verdict. The existence of peremptory challenges is an important safeguard in the judicial process as it allows both the defendant and the prosecution to get rid of potentially biased jurors.
In civil cases, each party shall be entitled to three peremptory challenges. Multiple defendants or multiple plaintiffs are considered as a single party for purpose of making challenges except that if the judge finds there is a good faith controversy existing between multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants. The court in its discretion and in the interest of justice, allow any of the parties, single or multiple, additional peremptory challenges and permit them to be exercised separately or jointly.
All challenges for cause, whether to the array or panel or to individual prospective jurors, shall be determined by the court. Peremptory challenges shall be exercised in a manner, which will not communicate to the challenged prospective juror the identity of the challenging party or attorney.
Further, prospective jurors shall be examined under oath as to their qualifications to sit as jurors (Voir dire examination of jurors). The court shall also permit the parties or their attorneys to conduct an examination of prospective jurors[i].
The jurors shall be sworn to try the case conscientiously and return a verdict according to the law and the evidence. If any person shall ask, procure or offer to procure, for himself or for another person, a place upon any jury, or shall seek to have himself or another placed upon the list of jurors as by this act provided, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and fined not less than five dollars for each offense.
[i] K.S.A. § 60-247