South Dakota Jury Selection

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 South Dakota, following are the qualifications to serve as a juror:

  • Any citizen of the state, who is a resident of the county or jury district where the jury is selected,
  • A person who is eighteen years of age or older,
  • A person with sound mind and who is able to read, write, and understand English language.

Any member of the clergy and any member of a church or religious organization is exempted from jury duty if it conflicts with the religious belief of that church or religious organization.  Any person who has been convicted of a felony unless restored to civil rights is not eligible to serve as a juror. No potential juror can be excluded from jury duty because of a visual or hearing impairment[i].

At the opening of the court the clerk randomly draw the names of the persons summoned as jurors by an electronic process or prepare separate ballots containing the names of the summoned jurors and deposit the ballots in a suitable container.  If an electronic process is not used, the clerk will publicly draw from the container the appropriate number of ballots to form the jury.

The state court administrator’s office will select from the jury selection list for each county the name corresponding to that random number in sequence. This process will continue until the number of names provide[ii].

When prospective jurors are called for examination, the court can call to the jury box a number of prospective jurors equal to the number of jurors to be impaneled, the number of peremptory challenges allowed the parties, and number of alternates, if any.  The voir dire examination of trial jurors can be conducted by the court or by counsel, or both, as the court directs[iii].

The challenges are to individual jurors, and are either peremptory or for cause.  Each party is entitled to three peremptory challenges.  If no peremptory challenges are taken until the panel is full, they must be taken by the parties alternately, commencing with the plaintiff[iv].  After the panel is filled the parties will exercise their peremptory challenges.  A list of the jurors in the panel will be made by the clerk and passed first to the plaintiff and then to the defendant, or their respective counsel.  The parties will exercise their peremptory challenges by crossing out the name of the juror they desire to challenge.  When a peremptory challenge is exercised it will be announced by the party or attorney exercising it.  But the name of the juror challenged need not be announced.  The clerk will draw another juror and s/he can be examined for cause and challenges for cause made.  The parties will proceed alternately, exercising their peremptory challenges until the same are exhausted and the jurors then remaining in the box will be sworn as jurors to try the case[v].

The court can direct that not more than six jurors in addition to the regular jury be called and impaneled to sit as alternate jurors.  Alternate jurors will be drawn in the same manner, same qualifications, subject to the same examination and challenges,  take the same oath, same functions, powers, facilities, and privileges as the regular jurors.  An alternate juror who does not replace a regular juror will be discharged after the jury retires to consider its verdict.  Each side is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition to those otherwise allowed by law.  The additional peremptory challenges can be used against an alternate juror only and the other peremptory challenges allowed by law will not be used against an alternate juror[vi].

[i] S.D. Codified Laws § 16-13-10

[ii] S.D. Codified Laws § 16-13-9.2

[iii] D.S.D. CIV. LR 47.1

[iv] S.D. Codified Laws § 15-14-7

[v] S.D. Codified Laws § 15-14-10

[vi]S.D. Codified Laws § 15-6-47(b)


Inside South Dakota Jury Selection