Senate Bill No. 74
(Senator Sypolt, original sponsor)
[Passed April 13, 2013; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact §52-1-5a and §52-1-8 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to redefining the basis for disqualification of prospective jurors to include those who have been convicted of any crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year, perjury or false swearing; and requiring clerks to provide copies of certain juror qualification questionnaires to counsel of record upon request.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §52-1-5a and §52-1-8 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. PETIT JURIES.
§52-1-5a. Jury qualification form; contents; procedure for use; penalties.
(a) Not less than twenty days before the date for which persons are to report for jury duty, the clerk may, if directed by the court, serve by first-class mail, upon each person listed on the master list, a juror qualification form accompanied by instructions necessary for its completion: Provided, That the clerk may, if directed by the court, mail the juror qualification form to only those prospective jurors drawn for jury service under the provisions of section seven of this article. Each prospective juror shall be directed to complete the form and return it by mail to the clerk within ten days after its receipt. The juror qualification form is subject to approval by the circuit court as to matters of form and shall elicit the following information concerning the prospective juror:
(1) The juror's name, sex, race, age and marital status;
(2) The juror's level of educational attainment, occupation and place of employment;
(3) If married, the name of the juror's spouse and the occupation and place of employment of the spouse;
(4) The juror's residence address and the juror's mailing address if different from the residence address;
(5) The number of children which the juror has and their ages;
(6) Whether the juror is a citizen of the United States and a resident of the county;
(7) Whether the juror is able to read, speak and understand the English language;
(8) Whether the juror has any physical or mental disability substantially impairing the capacity to render satisfactory jury service: Provided, That a juror with a physical disability, who can with reasonable accommodation render competent service, is eligible for service;
(9) Whether the juror has, within the preceding two years, been summoned to serve as a petit juror, grand juror or magistrate court juror, and has actually attended sessions of the magistrate or circuit court and been reimbursed for his or her expenses as a juror;
(10) Whether the juror has lost the right to vote because of a criminal conviction; and
(11) Whether the juror has been convicted of perjury, false swearing or any crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year under the applicable law of this state, another state or the United States.
The juror qualification form may also request information concerning the prospective juror's religious preferences and organizational affiliations, except that the form and the accompanying instructions shall clearly inform the juror that this information need not be provided if the juror declines to answer such inquiries.
(b) The juror qualification form shall contain the prospective juror's declaration that the responses are true to the best of the prospective juror's knowledge and an acknowledgment that a willful misrepresentation of a material fact may be punished by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both fine and imprisonment. Notarization of the juror qualification form shall not be required. If the prospective juror is unable to fill out the form, another person may assist the prospective juror in the preparation of the form and indicate that such person has done so and the reason therefor. If an omission, ambiguity or error appear in a returned form, the clerk shall again send the form with instructions to the prospective juror to make the necessary addition, clarification or correction and to return the form to the clerk within ten days after its second receipt.
(c) Any prospective juror who fails to return a completed juror qualification form as instructed shall be directed by the clerk to appear forthwith before the clerk to fill out the juror qualification form. At the time of the prospective juror's 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 that time the prospective juror may be questioned with regard to the responses to questions contained on the form and the grounds for the prospective juror's excuse or disqualification. Any information thus acquired by the court or clerk shall be noted on the juror qualification form.
(d) Any person who willfully misrepresents a material fact on a juror qualification form or during any interview described in subsection (c) of this section, for the purpose of avoiding or securing service as a juror, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both fined and imprisoned.
(e) Upon the clerk’s receipt of the juror qualification questionnaires of persons selected as prospective petit jurors, he or she shall make the questionnaires of the persons so selected available, upon request, to counsel of record in the trial or trials for which the persons have been selected as prospective jurors.
52-1-8. Disqualification from jury service.
(a) The court, shall determine whether any prospective juror is disqualified for jury service on the basis of information provided on the juror qualification form or interview with the prospective juror or other competent evidence. The clerk shall enter this determination in the space provided on the juror qualification form and on the alphabetical lists of names drawn from the jury wheel or jury box.
(b) A prospective juror is disqualified to serve on a jury if the prospective juror:
(1) Is not a citizen of the United States, at least eighteen years old and a resident of the county;
(2) Is unable to read, speak and understand the English language. For the purposes of this section, the requirement of speaking and understanding the English language is met by the ability to communicate in American Sign Language or Signed English;
(3) Is incapable, by reason of substantial physical or mental disability, of rendering satisfactory jury service. A person claiming this disqualification may be required to submit a physician's certificate as to the disability and the certifying physician is subject to inquiry by the court at its discretion;
(4) Has, within the preceding two years, been summoned to serve as a petit juror, grand juror or magistrate court juror and has attended sessions of the magistrate or circuit court and been reimbursed for his or her expenses as a juror pursuant to the provisions of section twenty-one of this article, section thirteen, article two of this chapter, or pursuant to an applicable rule or regulation of the Supreme Court of Appeals promulgated pursuant to the provisions of section eight, article five, chapter fifty of this code;
(5) Has lost the right to vote because of a criminal conviction; or
(6) Has been convicted of perjury, false swearing or any crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year under the applicable law of this state, another state or the United States.
(c) A prospective juror seventy years of age or older is not disqualified from serving but shall be excused from service by the court upon his or her request.
(d) A prospective grand juror is disqualified to serve on a grand jury if he or she is an officeholder under the laws of the United States or of this state except that the term "officeholder" does not include notaries public.
(e) A person who is physically disabled and can render competent service with reasonable accommodation is not ineligible to act as juror and may not be dismissed from a jury panel on the basis of disability alone. The circuit judge shall, upon motion by either party or upon his or her own motion, disqualify a disabled juror if the circuit judge finds that the nature of potential evidence in the case including, but not limited to, the type or volume of exhibits or the disabled juror's ability to evaluate a witness or witnesses, unduly inhibits the disabled juror's ability to evaluate the potential evidence. For purposes of this section:
(1) Reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to, certified interpreters for the hearing impaired, spokespersons for the speech impaired, real-time court reporting and readers for the visually impaired.
(2) The court shall administer an oath or affirmation to any person present to facilitate communication for a disabled juror. The substance of the oath or affirmation shall be that any person present as an accommodation to a disabled juror will not deliberate on his or her own behalf, although present throughout the proceedings, but act only to accurately communicate for and to the disabled juror.
(f) Nothing in this article limits a party's right to preemptory strikes in civil or criminal actions.