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. A citizen of New Hampshire shall not be excluded from jury service on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or economic status.[i]
A juror shall
- be 18 years of age or older on or before the first day of reporting for jury duty;
- be a citizen of the United States and a resident of the county of jury service;
- have the ability to read, speak, and understand the English language;
- not be subject to any physical or mental disability which would bar effective jury service.
- not have been convicted of any felony which has not been annulled or which is not eligible for annulment under New Hampshire law[ii]
The office shall annually prepare and deliver to the clerk of court a master list of prospective jurors for each county or judicial district thereof. Voter lists and department of safety lists, as well as the master jury list, are confidential documents to be used by the office and the respective trial courts only for purposes of jury selection.[iii]
Any person who is summoned to serve as a juror on the petit or grand jury shall not be required to serve a term longer than 30 days. A juror who is sitting on a trial in progress or a grand jury hearing in progress shall be required to serve until the trial or hearing is completed.
A person who is not disqualified for jury service may be excused from jury service by the court only upon a showing of undue hardship, extreme inconvenience, public necessity or for any other cause that the court deems appropriate. The person may be excused for the time deemed necessary by the court and shall report again for jury service, as directed by the court.[iv]
Further, the following provisions shall be incorporated into jury selection for civil cases:
The court shall instruct the panel of prospective jurors prior to jury selection as to:
- The nature and purpose of the selection process;
- The nature of the case to be presented;
- The specific issues for resolution;
- A summary of the law to be used in their consideration of the evidence; and
- Any other controversial aspects of the trial likely to invoke bias.
Counsel for each party shall be allowed a reasonable amount of time to address the panel of prospective jurors for explaining such party’s claims, defenses, and concerns in sufficient detail to prompt jury reflection, probing, and subsequent disclosure of information, opinion, bias, or prejudices, which might prevent a juror from attaining the requisite degree of neutrality required.
[i] RSA 500-A:4
[ii] RSA 500-A:7-a
[iii] RSA 500-A:2
[iv] RSA 500-A:11