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 Wyoming, following are the qualifications required to serve as a juror:
- An adult citizen of the U.S. who has been a resident of the state and of the county ninety (90) days before being selected and returned;
- In possession of his/her natural faculties, of ordinary intelligence and without mental or physical infirmity preventing satisfactory jury service;
- Possessed of sufficient knowledge of the English language[i].
Generally, a person convicted of any felony is disqualified to act as a juror unless his/her conviction is reversed or annulled, s/he receives a pardon or his/her rights are restored. No citizen shall be excluded from service as a juror on account of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or economic status.
In appropriate cases, the court may use case specific juror questionnaires to gather information from prospective jurors in advance of jury selection. When such questionnaires will be used, the court should require counsel to confer and attempt to reach agreement on the questions that will be included in the questionnaires. The court shall rule on inclusion or exclusion of any questions the court deems improper. All prospective jurors must answer as to their qualifications to be jurors. It shall be in writing and the written responses of the prospective jurors shall be preserved by the clerk of the court. A juror may be excused for a good cause within the statutory limits for a fixed period of time[ii].
After the jury panel is qualified, the attorneys, or a pro se party, shall be entitled to conduct the examination of prospective jurors. The examination shall be under the supervision and control of the judge. The purpose of the examination is to select a panel of jurors who will fairly and impartially hear the evidence and render a just verdict.
During voir dire examination, counsel or a pro se party shall not:
- Ask questions of an individual juror that can be asked of the panel or a group of jurors collectively;
- Ask questions answered in a juror questionnaire except to explain an answer;
- Repeat a question asked and answered;
- Instruct the jury on the law or argue the case; or
- Ask a juror what the juror’s verdict might be under any hypothetical circumstances.
The list of persons qualified to serve as trial jurors, certified and delivered to the clerk of the district court or a list of persons compiled under an alternate procedure is the base jury list. The base jury list may be expanded by including some other sources of names in addition to voter lists. The clerk shall prepare a certificate containing the names constituting the panel of trial jurors, and summon them to appear in court for a trial whenever ordered by the court[iii].
As soon as the jury is selected an oath shall be administered to the jurors. Each grand juror and petit juror summoned shall appear before the court on the day/hour specified in the summons, and depart only with permission of the court[iv]. Any juror summoned who willfully and without reasonable excuse fails to attend may be arrested and compelled to attend and is subject to contempt of court[v]. Trial juries in circuit courts shall be composed of six persons. Trial juries in civil cases shall be composed of six jurors unless one of the parties to the action files a written demand for twelve jurors[vi].
In the trial of civil cases in the district courts, each side is allowed three peremptory challenges. The court may direct that not more than six jurors in addition to the regular jury be called and impaneled to sit as alternate jurors. Alternate jurors in the order in which they are called shall replace jurors who become or are found to be unable or disqualified to perform their duties. Alternate jurors shall be drawn in the same manner, have the same qualifications, same examination and challenges, take the same oath, same functions, powers, facilities and privileges as the regular jurors.
Each side is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition to those otherwise allowed by law if one or two alternate jurors are to be impaneled, two peremptory challenges if three or four alternate jurors are to be impaneled, and three peremptory challenges if five or six alternate jurors are to be impaneled[vii].
[i] Wyo. Stat. § 1-11-101
[ii] Wyo. R. Civ. Proc. Rule 39.2
[iii] Wyo. Stat. § 1-11-106
[iv] Wyo. Stat. § 1-11-112
[v] Wyo. Stat. § 1-11-115
[vi] Wyo. Stat. § 1-11-119
[vii] Wyo. R. Civ. Proc. Rule 47