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Missouri 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.  All persons qualified for grand or petit jury service shall be citizens of the state and shall be selected at random from a fair cross section of the citizens of the county.  A citizen of the county or of a city not within a county for which the jury may be impaneled shall not be excluded from selection for possible grand or petit jury service because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or economic status.[i]

The board of jury commissioners shall compile and maintain a list of potential jurors and their addresses, and shall update such list periodically in a manner to be determined by the board. The master jury list shall be comprised of not less than five percent of the total population of the county or city not within a county as determined from the last decennial census. The master jury list shall be the result of random selection of names from a minimum of two government records including, but not limited to, personal property tax list, voter’s registration list, and driver’s license records. The information furnished by the department of revenue shall not be disclosed except as allowed pursuant to federal law.  [ii]

From time to time and in a manner prescribed by the board of jury commissioners there shall be drawn at random from the master jury list the names or identifying numbers of as many prospective jurors as the court may require. If it is determined from an examination of the juror qualification form that a person is not qualified to serve as a juror, that prospective juror shall be notified in a manner directed by the board of jury commissioners and shall not be required to comply with the summons for jury service. Such names are deleted from the master jury list.

Those persons constituting the qualified jury list, when summoned, shall be placed under the control and supervision of the sheriff or other person designated by the board of jury commissioners in a designated area to be provided in the courthouse. Whenever a judge of the circuit court shall require a panel of jurors for jury service, he shall designate the number of jurors required. This number of jurors shall be randomly selected in a manner specified by the board of jury commissioners from the qualified jury list.[iii]

The following persons are disqualified from serving as a petit or grand juror:

  • Any person who is less than twenty-one years of age;
  • Any person not a citizen of the United States;
  • Any person not a resident of the county or city not within a county served by the court issuing the summons;
  • Any person who has been convicted of a felony, unless such person has been restored to his civil rights;
  • Any person unable to read, speak and understand the English language, unless such person’s inability is due to a vision or hearing impairment which can be adequately compensated for through the use of auxiliary aids or services;
  • Any person on active duty in the armed forces of the United States or any member of the organized militia on active duty under order of the governor;
  • Any judge of a court of record;
  • Any person who, in the judgment of the court, is incapable of performing the duties of a juror because of mental or physical illness or infirmity.

In such cases, the juror or the juror’s personal representative may provide the court with documentation from a physician licensed to practice medicine verifying that a mental or physical condition renders the person unfit for jury service for a period of up to twenty-four months.[iv]

Although every qualified citizen of the state have an obligation to serve as juror, upon timely application to the court, the following persons shall be excused from service as a petit or grand juror:

  • Any person who has served on a state or federal petit or grand jury within the preceding two years;
  • Any person whose absence from his or her regular place of employment would, in the judgment of the court, tend materially and adversely to affect the public safety, health, welfare or interest;
  • Any person upon whom service as a juror would in the judgment of the court impose an undue or extreme physical or financial hardship;
  • Any person licensed as a health care provider and that the person’s service as a juror would be detrimental to the health of the person’s patients;
  • Any employee of a religious institution whose religious obligations or constraints prohibit their serving on a jury.

After two years, a person excused from jury service shall become eligible once again for qualification as a juror unless the person was excused from service permanently. A person is excused from jury service permanently only when the deciding judge determines that the underlying grounds for being excused are of a permanent nature.[v] No petit juror shall be required to serve as a juror for more than twenty days in any one-year period except as is necessary to complete service in a particular case.[vi] A person who is summoned for jury service and who willfully fails to appear and who has failed to obtain a postponement shall be in civil contempt of court.[vii]

In trials of civil causes each party shall be entitled to peremptorily challenge three jurors. When there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants, all plaintiffs and all defendants shall join in their challenges as if there were one plaintiff and one defendant.  The court in its discretion may allocate the allowable peremptory challenges among the parties plaintiff or defendant upon good cause shown and as the ends of justice require. In all cases, the plaintiff shall announce its challenges first.[viii]

[i] § 494.400 R.S.Mo

[ii] § 494.410 R.S.Mo.

[iii] § 494.420 R.S.Mo.

[iv] § 494.425 R.S.Mo.

[v] § 494.430 R.S.Mo.

[vi] § 494.445 R.S.Mo.

[vii] § 494.450 R.S.Mo.

[viii] § 494.480 R.S.Mo.

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