Jury selection refers to several methods used to choose the people who will serve on a trial jury. It outlines qualifications a person must possess to serve as a juror.
In Tennessee, the qualifications to serve as a juror are[i]:
- S/he must attain the age of eighteen;
- S/he must be a citizen of the U.S., and a resident of this state;
- S/he must be of the county in which the person may be summoned for jury service for a period of twelve months next preceding the date of the summons.
However, there are certain disqualifications to serve as a juror. They are[ii]:
- Persons convicted of a felony or any other infamous offense in a court of competent jurisdiction; or
- Persons convicted of perjury or subornation of perjury
The following persons are excused from serving as a juror:
- Any person who has a mental or physical condition that causes him/her to be incapable of performing jury service.
- Any person whose service will constitute an undue or extreme physical or financial hardship to the prospective juror or a person under the prospective juror’s care or supervision.
A person cannot act as a juror in any case in which the person is interested, or in which either of the parties is connected with the person by affinity or consanguinity, within the sixth degree, as computed by the civil law, except by consent of all parties[iii]. A court can discharge from service a grand or petit juror who does not possess the requisite qualifications, or who is disqualified from such service, or for any other reasonable or proper cause, to be judged by the court.
The jury coordinator in each county will select names of prospective jurors randomly without any prejudice and opportunity for the intervention of any human agency to select a particular name. The names, which constitute the jury list, will be compiled from licensed driver records, tax records or other available and reliable sources. The jury coordinator can utilize a single source or any combination of sources. S/he is prohibited from using the permanent voter registration records as a source to compile the jury list[iv]. This method is effective only to certain counties on the basis of population.
There is also non automated jury selection method which applies to certain counties on the basis of population. The jury coordinator and the circuit court clerk, or the clerk’s deputy, will meet in to select the names of prospective jurors. The names, that constitute the jury list, will be selected randomly from licensed driver records or lists, tax records, or other available and reliable sources. The jury coordinator can utilize a single source or any combination of sources but prohibited from using the permanent voter registration records as a source to compile the jury list[v].
Selection of jury pool is as follows: The names of prospective jurors are obtained by automated means without opportunity for the intervention of any human agency to select a particular name and without any prejudice. It is the duty of the presiding judge to notify the jury coordinator regarding the number of names to be selected from the jury list, and these names will constitute the jury pool[vi]. Immediately after the jury pool has been summoned, the jury coordinator will create a list of the members of the jury pool, and a copy of the list of the members of the jury pool will be posted in the clerk’s office for public inspection.
If any county cannot obtain and select names for the jury pool by automated means, it may utilize the alternate jury selection method. The jury coordinator will unlock the jury box, draws names from the jury box in the presence of the witness to constitute the jury pool for the jury service term before two weeks of each jury service term.
If the original jury pool does not include a sufficient number of jurors, courts will take steps to secure additional jurors. These additional names will not replace, but supplement the original jury pool. These procedures will be repeated, as necessary, until the grand and petit juries are completed. Additional names will be selected for the special jury pool in the same manner practiced for the selection of the original jury pool. If for any reason a jury pool is not furnished at any jury, then the presiding judge of the judicial district will have the right to select a jury pool as may be needed during the jury service term.
Either party to a civil action may challenge four jurors without assigning any cause.
If there is more than one plaintiff or defendant in a civil action, four additional challenges will be allowed to such sides of the case. The trial court in its discretion, divide the aggregate number of challenges between the parties on the same side, which will not exceed eight challenges to the side, regardless of the number of parties. Even when two or more cases are consolidated for trial purposes, the total challenges will be eight[vii].
[i] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-1-101
[ii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-1-102
[iii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-1-104
[iv] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-2-301
[v] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-2-302
[vi] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-2-304
[vii] Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-3-104