§ 4501 Declaration of policy.
It is the policy of this State that jurors serving in each county shall be selected at random from a fair cross section of the population of that county and that all qualified persons shall have an opportunity to be considered for jury service and an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose.
§ 4502 Prohibition of discrimination.
No person shall be excluded from jury service in this State on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or economic status.
§ 4503 Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Clerk" means the prothonotary of each county, and includes any deputy or clerk in the office of the prothonotary;
(2) "Court" means the Superior Court of the State, and includes any Judge of the Court;
(3) "Juror qualification form" means a form approved by the Court which shall elicit information relevant to the selection of jurors in accordance with this chapter; and
(4) "Jury selection plan" means a written plan designed to carry out the policy and the provisions of this chapter;
(5) "Master list" means a list or an electronic system for the storage of the names of prospective jurors selected randomly from the source list;
(6) "Qualified jury wheel" means a device or an electronic system for the storage of the names of prospective jurors on a master list who are not disqualified from jury service.
(7) "Source list" means a list or an electronic system for the storage of the names on the voter registration list which may be supplemented with names from other sources to foster the policy of this chapter;
(8) "Voter registration list" means the current official record of persons registered to vote in a general election;
§ 4504 Jury commissioners.
§ 4505 Grand jury.
Grand juries in New Castle County shall consist of 15 members, and the affirmative vote of 9 members shall be necessary to find a true bill of indictment. Grand juries in Kent County and in Sussex County shall consist of 10 members, and the affirmative vote of 7 members shall be necessary to find a true bill of indictment. Grand jurors shall take an oath to perform faithfully the duties of a grand juror.
§ 4506 Special jury.
The Court may order a special jury upon the application of any party in a complex civil case. The party applying for a special jury shall pay the expense incurred by having a special jury, which may be allowed as part of the costs of the case.
§ 4507 Jury selection plan.
(a) The Court shall adopt a jury selection plan to carry out the policy and the provisions of this chapter. The Court may adopt separate plans and varying regulations for each county and for grand, petit and special juries, and may amend a plan at any time. The plan shall provide standards and methods for the selection and service of jurors, including but not necessarily limited to the following:
(1) The duties of clerks and the court administrator or other employees of the Court;
(2) The composition of source lists, including whether voter registration lists shall be supplemented with names from other sources;
(3) The selection of names for master lists;
(4) The content of the juror qualification form;
(5) The groups of persons or occupational classes whose members shall be excused from jury service upon request;
(6) The disqualification, excuse and exclusion of prospective jurors;
(7) The maintenance of qualified jury wheels, including the maximum time that the names of prospective jurors shall remain in a qualified jury wheel and the minimum number of names to be contained therein;
(8) The assignment of persons to grand, petit and special jury panels, or to courts other than Superior Court;
(9) The length of jury service;
(10) The compilation, disclosure and preservation of records used in the selection process.
(b) Persons having custody, possession or control of any list, record or other information required for use in the jury selection process shall supply it or make it available to the Court for inspection, reproduction and copying at all reasonable times, and persons having responsibility for devising or operating data processing systems or computer programs for the State shall certify that any such system or program complies with the jury selection plan when required by the Court. The Court may compel compliance with this subsection by appropriate process.
§ 4508 Completion of juror qualification form.
(a) Prospective jurors shall be selected randomly from the source list for placement on a master list from time to time as needed.
(b) The clerk shall mail a juror qualification form to persons whose names are on a master list with instructions to provide the information sought. The juror qualification form shall contain a declaration that the responses are true to the best of the prospective juror's knowledge, and acknowledgement that a false statement therein may be punished by a fine or imprisonment, or both. If the prospective juror is unable to fill out the form, another person may do it and shall indicate that fact and the reason therefor. If it appears that there is an omission, ambiguity or error in the information provided, the clerk shall instruct the prospective juror to make the necessary addition, clarification or correction.
(c) Any person who fails to provide information sought as instructed shall be directed to appear forthwith before the clerk to fill out the juror qualification form. Any person who fails to appear as directed may be ordered by the Court to appear and show cause for failure to do so.
(d) At the time of appearance for jury service, or at the time of any interview before the Court or clerk, any prospective juror may be required to fill out another juror qualification form in the presence of the Court or clerk, at which time the prospective juror may be questioned, but only with regard to responses to questions contained on the form and grounds for disqualification, excuse or exclusion. Any information thus acquired by the Court or clerk shall be noted on the juror qualification form.
§ 4509 Disqualification from jury service.
(a) The Court shall determine on the basis of information provided on the juror qualification form or interview with the prospective juror or other competent evidence whether the prospective juror is disqualified for jury service.
(b) All persons are qualified for jury service except those who are:
(1) Not citizens of the United States;
(2) Less than 18 years of age;
(3) Not residents of the county of prospective jury service;
(4) Unable to read, speak and understand the English language;
(5) Incapable, by reason of physical or mental disability, of rendering satisfactory jury service; or
(6) Convicted felons who have not had their civil rights restored.
(c) A prospective juror may be required to submit proof as to possible disqualification, including a physician's or Christian Science Practitioner's certificate, and the physician or practitioner is subject to inquiry by the Court at its discretion.
§ 4510 Selection and summoning of jury panels.
(a) Prospective jurors shall be selected randomly from the qualified jury wheel or from the master list for assignment to grand, petit and special jury panels from time to time as needed.
(b) The clerk shall cause each person selected for jury service to be served with a summons, either personally, or by mail addressed to the person's usual residence, business or post office address, requiring the person to report for jury service at a specified time and place. Any person who fails to appear as directed may be ordered by the Court to appear and show cause for failure to do so.
(c) If there is an unanticipated shortage of available jurors, the Court may require the sheriff to summon a sufficient number of jurors selected in a manner prescribed by the Court.
§ 4511 Excuse or exclusion from jury service.
(a) The Court shall determine on the basis of information provided on the juror qualification form or interview with the prospective juror or other competent evidence whether the prospective juror shall be excused or excluded from jury service.
(b) A person who is not disqualified may be excused from jury service by the Court only upon a showing of undue hardship, extreme inconvenience or public necessity, for a period the Court deems necessary, at the conclusion of which the person shall reappear for jury service in accordance with the Court's direction. The Court may determine that membership in specified groups of persons or occupational classes constitutes a showing of undue hardship, extreme inconvenience or public necessity. Women who are currently breastfeeding a child shall be excused from jury service for at least 1 year.
(c) A person who is not disqualified may be excluded from jury service by the Court only upon a finding that such person would be unable to render impartial jury service or would be likely to disrupt or otherwise adversely affect the proceedings.
§ 4512 Challenging compliance with selection procedures.
(a) Within 7 days after the moving party discovers, or by the exercise of diligence could have discovered, the grounds therefor, and in any event before the jury is sworn to try the case, a party may move to stay the proceedings, and in a criminal case to dismiss the indictment, or for other appropriate relief, on the ground of substantial failure to comply with this chapter in selecting the grand, petit or special jury.
(b) Upon motion filed under subsection (a) of this section containing a sworn statement of facts which, if true, would constitute a substantial failure to comply with this chapter, the moving party is entitled to present in support of the motion the testimony of the clerk, any relevant records and papers not public or otherwise available used by the clerk, and any other relevant evidence. If the Court determines that in selecting a grand, petit or special jury there has been a substantial failure to comply with this chapter, the Court may stay the proceedings pending the selection of the jury in conformity with this chapter, dismiss an indictment or grant other appropriate relief.
(c) The procedures prescribed by this section are the exclusive means by which a jury may be challenged on the ground that the jury was not selected in conformity with this chapter.
§ 4513 Disclosure and preservation of records.
(a) The names of persons summoned for jury service shall be disclosed to the public and the contents of jury qualification forms completed by them shall be made available to the parties unless the Court determines that any or all of this information should be kept confidential or its use limited in whole or in part in any case or cases.
(b) Records used in the selection process shall not be disclosed, except in accordance with the jury selection plan or as necessary in the preparation or presentation of a motion challenging compliance with this chapter.
(c) Records used in the selection process shall be preserved for at least 4 years.
§ 4514 Compensation and reimbursement.
(a) Jurors shall be paid a per diem rate of $20 which shall serve as a daily allowance for reimbursement for travel, parking and other out-of-pocket expenses. An employer shall not consider the reimbursement described in this subsection as pay. Jurors whose term of service is 1 day or 1 trial shall not receive reimbursement for the first day of service. The State shall pay for food, lodging and other necessary expense during the sequestration of a jury.
(b) The Court shall keep a record of attendance and travel or other expense and shall certify the amount due for payment by the State Treasurer.
§ 4515 Protection of jurors' employment.
(a) An employer shall not deprive an employee of employment, or threaten or otherwise coerce the employee with respect thereto, because the employee receives a summons, responds thereto, serves as a juror or attends Court for prospective jury service.
(b) Any employer who violates subsection (a) of this section is guilty of criminal contempt and upon conviction may be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both.
(c) If an employer discharges an employee in violation of subsection (a) of this section, the employee may file a civil action in Superior Court within 90 days for recovery of wages lost as a result of the violation and for an order requiring the reinstatement of the employee. An employee who prevails shall be allowed a reasonable attorney's fee fixed by the Court.
§ 4516 Failure to perform jury service.
A person who fails to appear and show cause as ordered by the Court for failure to comply with the clerk's direction to appear for the purpose of completing a juror qualification form or for failure to comply with a summons to appear for jury service or to complete jury service is guilty of criminal contempt and upon conviction may be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than 3 days, or both.
§ 4517 Jurisdiction.
The Superior Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over any violation of this chapter.
§§ 4518 -4543. [Reserved.]