How Juries Are Selected in Arizona Superior Court Civil Cases


How Juries Are Selected in Arizona Superior Court Civil Cases

The process of selecting a jury in Arizona Superior Court civil cases and how it compares to the process in U.S. District Court. 

Please note that, while this article accurately describes applicable law on the subject covered at the time of its writing, the law continues to develop with the passage of time. Accordingly, before relying upon this article, care should be taken to verify that the law described herein has not changed.

I. Jury Selection in Arizona Superior Court Civil Cases

Arizona Superior Courts follow a very specific process in selecting juries in their civil cases. Firstly, the jury commissioner will construct a master jury list, which consists of the following designated types of people: names and addresses of eligible persons who reside in the county, individuals on the voter registration list of the county, other persons eligible for jury service who have been licensed pursuant to certain statutory provisions, and those individuals from other lists as determined by the supreme court. A. R. S. § 21-301(A). The list is prepared with caution so that any duplication is avoided. Id. The Superior Court uses a random selection procedure throughout the juror selection process. A. R. S. § 21-313(C). 

After the master jury list is used to select the jury pool, a juror questionnaire is used to further narrow down the candidates. The questionnaire determines an individual’s ability to serve on the jury, including any possible valid grounds for excusal or postponement from service, which will be determined by the jury commissioner or manager. A. R. S. § 21-314(A). Additionally, the jury commissioner or manager may further explore the truthfulness and accuracy of each potential juror’s questionnaire answers, including asking for the assistance of law enforcement or through a subpoena. Id.  

Next, the jury commissioner or manager, will summon all of the qualified jurors for a specific court location and date. A. R. S. § 21-331(A). In Arizona counties where there are multiple superior court locations, qualified jurors do not have to worry about multiple jury summons. Arizona statutes provide that a “juror shall not be summoned to more than one court location on the same date and is not required to serve in more than one court location on any specific date.” A. R. S. § 21-331(B). The summons will either be delivered personally to each person, by written notice at each person’s residence, by telephone or by mail. A. R. S. § 21-331(C). Any qualified juror who fails to appear in response to the original summons will be resummoned, but not subject to any fines unless the second summons also results in a nonappearance. A. R. S. § 21-331(D).

Lastly, in order for the juror to have fulfilled their jury service, they must have done any of the following: (1) serve on one trial until being excused or discharged, (2) appear at court, but does not get assigned for a trial before the end of that day, (3) serve through the completion of jury service and be excused, (4) comply with a request to telephone a court or check a court’s website to determine whether to report on a particular day, for four days within a specific thirty day period, or (5) provide the court with a valid telephone number and be available to serve on the same day, for a period of two days. A. R. S. § 21-332(A). Once the jury service is fulfilled, a juror is not required to serve again on any court in Arizona for two years following the last day of the service. A. R. S. § 21-335(A). Finally, a juror may postpone their initial appearance for two times only if the juror has not been granted two previous postponements, and the postponement request is received in person or to the jury commissioner by telephone or mail. A. R. S. § 21-336(A).

II. Jury Selection in U.S. District Courts 

The jury service process in a U.S. District Court is fairly similar to the process instituted in Arizona Superior Courts. Under the United States Code, all litigants in Federal courts are entitled to a trial by jury, which will be selected at random and reflect a fair cross section of the community in the district where the case is being held. 28 USCS § 1861. In addition to submitting a plan for how random selection will be utilized, each U.S. district court must either institute a jury commission, or authorize the clerk of the court, to manage the jury selection process, provide whether prospective juror candidates will be selected from voter registration lists or the lists of actual voters from within the district, and provide for a master jury wheel, or similar device, which the names to be selected from will be placed. 28 USCS § 1861(b). 

After names are drawn at random from the master jury wheel, the clerk or jury commission will post a general notice explaining the drawing process. 28 USCS § 1864(a). He or she will then mail to every individual whose name is drawn, a juror qualification form, with instructions to return the form within ten days. Id. Any individual, who fails to appear, will be ordered to appear and explain their absence. Id. at 1864(b). If good cause is not shown, the individual could possibly be fined, imprisoned, be ordered to serve community service, or any combination of the three. Id.  

As the questionnaires are reviewed, the chief judge of the district court will determine whether an individual is unqualified or excused from the jury service, by examining the potential juror’s reading, writing, speaking and mental capabilities, and whether he or she has any pending charges against them that could result in imprisonment of more than one year. 28 USCS § 1865. Additionally, some of the following factors will be considered in disqualifying a potential jury member: undue hardship, impartiality, and secrecy and order of the proceedings. 28 USCS § 1866. Any person excluded on these grounds will still be able to sit on a subsequent jury so long as “the basis for his initial exclusion would not be relevant to his ability to serve on such other jury.” Id.  

Similarly to Arizona Superior Courts, each person drawn for jury service may be served personally or through registered, certified, or first-class mail. Id. Much like the Arizona process detailed above, just because an individual is summoned for jury service, does not guarantee they will serve on the jury due to their qualifications or excuses. Nevertheless, in any two-year period, no individual residing in their particular district, will be required to serve for a total of more than thirty days, except when the case requires, or serve or more than one grand jury, or serve as both a grand (a case of 16-23 jurors) and petit juror (a case of 6-12 jurors). Id. at 1866(e). Additionally, if for some reason there ever exists an unanticipated shortage of available jurors from the wheel, the court may require the marshal to summons the requisite amount of potential jurors needed. Id. at 1866(f). Lastly, in U.S. District Courts, after all persons selected to serve have completed their jury service, all corresponding records maintained by the jury commission are preserved by the court’s clerk for four years or longer if ordered so by the court, and are available for public inspection. 28 USCS § 1868.
If you would like to discuss a potential litigation case, we would be happy to discuss it with you. To arrange for a consultation concerning your legal matter, please contact Robert Mitchell at rdm@tblaw.com or at (602) 452-2730.
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