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.
Every person summoned as a juror:
- shall be 18 years of age or older;
- shall be able to read and understand the English language;
- shall be a citizen of the United States;
- shall be a resident of the county in which the person is summoned;
- shall not have been convicted of any indictable offense under the laws of this State, another state, or the United States;
- shall not have any mental or physical disability which will prevent the person from properly serving as a juror[i].
The names of persons eligible for jury service shall be selected from a single juror source list of county residents whose names and addresses shall be obtained from a merger of the following lists: registered voters, licensed drivers, filers of State gross income tax returns and filers of homestead rebate or credit application forms. The county election board, the Division of Motor Vehicles and the State Division of Taxation shall provide these lists annually to the Assignment Judge of the county. The Assignment Judge may provide for the merger of additional lists of persons eligible for jury service that may contribute to the breadth of the juror source list. Merger of the lists of eligible jurors into a single juror source list shall include a reasonable attempt to eliminate duplication of names.[ii]
The Assignment Judge may direct that questionnaires be sent to potential jurors, requesting that they provide pertinent information concerning the qualifications of prospective jurors for jury service, and any claims for exemption or deferral. Questionnaires may be sent to all persons on the juror source list, or to persons randomly selected from the juror source list, either before or with the service of a summons for jury service.[iii]
An excuse from jury service shall be granted only if:
- The prospective juror is 75 years of age or older;
- The prospective juror has served as a juror within the last three years in the county to which the juror is being summoned;
- Jury service will impose a severe hardship due to circumstances which are not likely to change within the following year.
Severe hardship includes the following circumstances:
- The prospective juror has a medical inability to serve which is verified by a licensed physician;
- The prospective juror will suffer a severe financial hardship which will compromise the juror’s ability to support himself, herself, or dependents. (3) The prospective juror has a personal obligation to care for another, including a sick, aged or infirm dependent or a minor child, who requires the prospective juror’s personal care and attention, and no alternative care is available without severe financial hardship on the prospective juror or the person requiring care.
- The prospective juror provides highly specialized technical health care services for which replacement cannot reasonably be obtained.
- The prospective juror is a health care worker directly involved in the care of a mentally or physically handicapped person, and the prospective juror’s continued presence is essential to the regular and personal treatment of that person.
- The prospective juror is a member of the full-time instructional staff of a grammar school or high school, the scheduled jury service is during the school term, and a replacement cannot reasonably be obtained.[iv]
[i] N.J. Stat. § 2B:20-1
[ii] N.J. Stat. § 2B:20-2
[iii] N.J. Stat. § 2B:20-3
[iv] N.J. Stat. § 2B:20-10