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.
It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that:
- All persons entitled to a jury trial in a civil action or criminal proceeding shall have the right to jurors selected at random from a representative cross section of the eligible population of the county;
- All qualified citizens shall have the opportunity to be considered for service as jurors in the courts of this Commonwealth and shall have an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose; and
- A citizen shall not be excluded from service as a juror based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin or economic status[i].
Every citizen of the Commonwealth who is of the required minimum age for voting for State or local officials and who resides in the county shall be qualified to serve as a juror therein unless such citizen:
- is unable to read, write, speak and understand the English language;
- is incapable, by reason of mental or physical infirmity, to render efficient jury service; or
- has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and has not been granted a pardon or amnesty[ii].
Although, all citizens have an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose, the following persons shall be exempt or excused from jury duty:
- Persons in active service of the armed forces of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
- Persons who have served within three years next preceding on any jury except a person who served as a juror for fewer than three days in any one year in which case the exemption period shall be one year;
- Persons demonstrating to the court undue hardship or extreme inconvenience may be excused permanently or for such period as the court determines is necessary, and if excused for a limited period shall, at the end of the period, be assigned to the next jury array;
- Spouses, children, siblings, parents, grandparents and grandchildren of victims of criminal homicide under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2501.[iii]
[i] 42 Pa.C.S. § 4501
[ii] 42 Pa.C.S. § 4502
[iii] 42 Pa.C.S. § 4503