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. Those selected for jury service are selected at random from a fair cross section of the population of the area served by the court. All qualified citizens have the opportunity to be considered for jury service in the state of Mississippi and an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose. A citizen shall not be excluded from jury service because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or economic status.
Every citizen is qualified to be a juror if h/she is
- not under the age of twenty-one years;
- is either a qualified elector, or a resident freeholder of the county for more than one year;
- is able to read and write;
- has not been convicted of an infamous crime, or the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors within a period of five years; and
- is not a common gambler or habitual drunkard.
In order to determine that prospective jurors can read and write, the presiding judge shall distribute to the jury panel a form to be completed personally by each juror prior to being impaneled. The judge shall personally examine the answers of each juror prior to impaneling the jury and each juror who cannot complete the above form shall be disqualified as a juror and discharged. The circuit clerk shall keep a list of any jurors disqualified for jury duty because of inability to complete the form and their names shall not be placed in the jury box thereafter until such person can qualify as above provided.
The parties or their attorneys in all jury trials shall have the right to question jurors who are being impaneled with reference to challenges for cause, and for peremptory challenges.
In April of each year, the jury commission for each county in the state of Mississippi shall compile and maintain a master list consisting of the voter registration list for the county. The jury commission for each county shall maintain a jury wheel into which the commission shall place the names or identifying numbers of prospective jurors taken from the master list selected from the voter’s list. The jurors drawn for jury service shall be assigned at random by the clerk to each jury panel in a manner prescribed by the court.
Every citizen over sixty-five years of age, and everyone who has served as a grand juror or as a petit juror in the trial of a litigated case within two years may be exempted from service if the juror claims the privilege.
Except in cases in which jury selection and selection of alternate jurors is governed by rules promulgated by the Mississippi Supreme Court, one or two jurors in addition to the regular panel be called and impaneled to sit as alternate jurors.