Jury Selection and Jury Duty in Arizona
According to the Arizona Constitution, “the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.” The right to a trial by jury is also protected by the United States Constitution. Accordingly, jury selection is a well-regulated process.
Eligibility for Jury Selection
In order to be eligible to be selected for, and serve on, a jury, the potential juror must:
- Be a citizen of the United States of America
- Be 18 years old or older
- Not have been convicted of a felony, unless their civil rights have since been restored
- Not determined by a court to be mentally incompetent or insane
- A resident of the jurisdiction in which they were ordered to serve
Jury Selection Process
The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and Voter Registration Department create a master list of names of individuals eligible for jury trial. Names are randomly selected, and those chosen will be mailed a summons or questionnaire. Those with scheduling conflicts are permitted to postpone their date of jury service a maximum of two times. Excuses from service are rarely granted, including for reasons of religion or professional status. Acceptable excuses include:
- Mental or physical incapacity
- Lack of understanding of the English language
- Severe financial hardship
- Prior jury service within the last two years or grand jury service in the last four years
- Service would cause abandonment of someone under their care
- Knowing a party or witness involved in the case
- Being at least 75 years old
- Current active service in the U.S. military
A potential juror can have their jury service considered fulfilled in the following cases:
- Service on one jury trial.
- Appearing at court on the first day but not being selected for, or assigned to, a trial.
- Calling in to report for service for four days within a thirty-day period to find out if they must report.
- Providing the court with a valid phone number and being ready to serve for a period of two days.
Selection of Individual Jurors
Being summoned for jury duty does not mean an individual will end up actually serving on a jury. Some potential jurors may be excused prior to ever setting foot in a courthouse, while others end up going through a selection process at court.
For the prospective jurors who are ordered to appear at court, they must go through “voir dire.” Translated from French as “to speak the truth,” voir dire is the name given to the selection procedures for determining the members of a jury. Prospective jurors may be asked to fill out case-specific questionnaires, for which they must affirm under oath that their responses are truthful. These questionnaires may ask about the juror’s qualifications, hardships they may face as a result of serving on a jury, and whether or not they can be fair and impartial.
Once each party or attorney on the case has reviewed these written responses, they may conduct oral voir dire. Each party may provide opening statements to the potential jurors before asking them questions regarding their ability to be fair and impartial. Additional questions may involve any subject that might disclose a basis for the exercise of a challenge for cause. A judge manages the voir dire process to prevent improper, abusive, or excessive questioning.
A juror may not be excused unless the challenging party can establish a preponderance of evidence that the juror cannot render a fair and impartial verdict. Moreover, peremptory challenges have been eliminated in Arizona, meaning that attorneys can no longer dismiss a prospective juror without giving a reason for doing so.
Failing to Appear for Jury Selection or Jury Duty
Failing to appear for a jury summons or jury duty can have criminal consequences. Refusing to serve as a juror, refusing to be affirmed in a court proceeding, and failing to attend jury duty after being selected are class 1 misdemeanors, charged as interfering with judicial proceedings. It is also possible to charged with criminal contempt of court, a class 2 misdemeanor, for which an individual can be fined $500.
In October 2023, the Maricopa County Superior Court summoned a group of individuals to an Order to Show Cause hearing to learn why they had failed to report for jury duty. Presided over by Judge Joseph Kreamer and Judge Danielle Viola, the hearing made it clear that those who willfully avoid jury service will be held accountable by being ordered to report for another jury service and being fined up to $500. The original article, reported by FOX 10 Staff, can be read here.
Jury Duty Scams
Individuals should be aware of various jury summons scams. These may involve a caller, texter, or emailer stating that a person has missed jury duty and now has a sanction being imposed, for which they must pay and provide personal information over the phone. The court system will never ask for credit card numbers, banking information, social security numbers, or other sensitive information over these communication mediums. Such scams should be ignored. Local courts can be contacted directly for confirmation of whether or not an individual has been summoned for jury duty.
To learn about jury duty in various jurisdictions, click on the examples below.
Always check the website for the court in which you have been summoned for jury duty to learn the full scope of rules and procedures.
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