Massachusetts 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 right of trial by jury as declared by the Constitution of the Commonwealth is preserved to the parties inviolate.

A person shall be disqualified to serve as a juror if:

  • H/She or any member of his family is related to any party or attorney therein;
  • H/She has any interest therein;
  • H/She has expressed any opinion on the case;
  • H/She has formed any opinion thereon;
  • H/She is sensible of any bias or prejudice therein; and
  • H/She knows of any reason why he cannot or does not stand indifferent in the case[i].

The court may order a jury of not more than sixteen members and the court shall have jurisdiction to try the case with such jury as provided by law.  Each side is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition to those otherwise allowed by law if one or two additional jurors are to be impaneled, and two peremptory challenges if three or four additional jurors are to be impaneled[ii].

A person of either sex qualified to vote for representatives to the general court, whether a registered voter or not, shall be liable to serve as a juror, except if the person is or person having custody of and being responsible for the daily supervision of a child under fifteen years of age or is above seventy years of age.  Apart from this certain officers appointed by the United States and the Common Wealth are also not liable to serve as jurors.

The parties may stipulate that the jury shall consist of any number less than twelve, or less than six in the District Court, or that a verdict or a finding of a stated majority of the jurors shall be taken as the verdict or finding of the jury.

[i] ALM R. Civ. P. Rule 47 (2009)

[ii] ALM GL ch. 234, § 26B  (2009)

Inside Massachusetts Jury Selection