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.
In North Carolina, following are the qualifications required to serve as a juror[i]:
- S/he should be the citizen of the state and residents of the county;
- S/he should attain 18 years or above;
- S/he should be able to understand English language
- S/he should not be convicted of felony or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to an indictment charging a felony
- S/he should not be adjudged non compos mentis.
It shall be the duty of the jury commission to prepare a list of prospective jurors. In preparing the list, the jury commission shall use the list of registered voters and persons with drivers license records. The jury commission shall merge the entire list of names of each source used and randomly select the desired number of names to form the jury list[ii]. In counties having access to electronic data processing equipment, the functions of preparing and maintaining custody of the list of prospective jurors may be performed by this equipment except that decisions as to mental or physical competency of prospective jurors shall continue to be made by jury commissioners[iii].
Whenever the presiding judge deems it appropriate, one or more alternate jurors may be selected in the same manner as the regular trial panel of jurors in the case. Each party shall be entitled to two peremptory challenges as to each such alternate juror, in addition to any unexpended challenges the party may have after the selection of the regular trial panel.
Alternate jurors shall be sworn and seated near the jury with equal opportunity to see and hear the proceedings and shall attend the trial at all times with the jury and shall obey all orders and admonitions of the court to the jury. An alternate juror shall receive the same compensation as other jurors and shall be discharged upon the final submission of the case to the jury. If before that time any juror dies, or becomes incapacitated or disqualified, or is discharged for any reason, an alternate juror shall become a part of the jury[iv].
Before a jury is impaneled to try the issues in any civil suit, the clerk shall read over the names of the prospective jurors in the presence of the parties or their counsel; may challenge peremptorily eight jurors without showing any cause. The challenges shall be allowed by the court[v].
[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 9-3
[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 9-2
[iii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 9-2.1
[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 9-18
[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 9-19