Jury selection refers to a procedure employed to choose people from among the community using a reasonably random method to serve on a trial jury.
In North Dakota, when a jury is impaneled in all civil actions, it must consist of six qualified jurors unless any party makes a timely written demand for a jury of nine[i]. The court can call for examination an initial venire of prospective jurors for the jury and the number of peremptory challenges available to the parties. A general examination of prospective jurors is optional with the trial judge, but any examination by the trial judge does not in any manner limit the right of the parties to conduct the examination. If the examination is not conducted by the judge, it will be conducted by the parties[ii].
After the parties have exercised their challenges, if the venire size is larger than the number required, the excess number of jurors will be excused in inverse order in which they were called. The court has the discretion to allow singular examination of prospective jurors in chambers.
Each side is entitled to four peremptory challenges when a six person jury is to be impaneled and four peremptory challenges when a nine person jury is to be impaneled. If a side consists of more than one party, that side is entitled to a total of four peremptory challenges. If no peremptory challenges are taken until the panel is full, they must be taken by the parties alternately starting with the plaintiff.
If the trial judge, after the examination of any juror, is of the opinion that grounds for challenge for cause are present, the judge should excuse that juror from the trial of the case. If the judge does not excuse the juror, any party can challenge the juror for cause as provided by law[iii].
If a juror becomes sick and unable to perform the juror’s duty, before a verdict, the court can order the juror to be discharged. In such case the trial can proceed by agreement of the parties with the remaining jurors, or an alternate juror or another juror can be sworn, or the jurors can be discharged and a new jury then or afterwards impaneled[iv].
The court can direct that one or two jurors in addition to the regular panel be called and impaneled to sit as alternate jurors. Alternate jurors in the order in which they are called will replace jurors who become or are found to be unable or disqualified to perform their duties. Alternate jurors will be drawn in the same manner, same qualifications, the same examination and challenges, take the same oath, same functions, powers, facilities, and privileges as the principal jurors. An alternate juror who does not replace a principal juror will be discharged after the jury retires to consider its verdict. If one or two alternate jurors are called each side is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition to those otherwise allowed by this rule. The additional peremptory challenge can be used only against an alternate juror, and the other peremptory challenges allowed by this rule will not be used against the alternates.
[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 28-14-03.1
[ii] N.D.R. Civ. P. Rule 47
[iv] N.D. Cent. Code, § 28-14-20