Jury Selection – Exercising Peremptory Challenges

I got a call today from a lawyer who asked about the method by which peremptory challenges are exercised in state court. 

It is always a good idea to ask the trial judge at the pretrial conference or on the morning of trial how he or she handles peremptory challenges.  But recall that Rule 47 of  Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure was amended in 2003 to address these issues.

Here is the entire  text of Rule 47:

47.01. Examination of Jurors.–The court shall permit the parties or their attorneys to conduct the examination. At or near the beginning of jury selection, the court shall permit counsel to introduce themselves and make brief, non-argumentative remarks that inform the potential jurors of the general nature of the case. The court, upon motion of a party or on its own motion, may direct that any portion of the questioning of a prospective juror be conducted out of the presence of the tentatively selected jurors and other prospective jurors.

47.02. Additional Jurors.–The court may direct prior to the start of jury selection that one or more jurors in addition to the regular jury of twelve persons be called and impaneled. The additional jurors shall be drawn in the same manner, shall have the same qualifications, shall be subject to the same examination and challenges, shall take the same oath, and shall have the same functions, powers, facilities, and privileges as the regular jurors. If one or more additional jurors are called, each party is entitled to one peremptory challenge for each such additional juror, up to the maximum provided by law. Such additional peremptory challenges may be used against any regular or additional juror. The trial court in its discretion may use either of the following methods to select and impanel additional jurors:

(1) During the jury selection or the trial of the case, there shall be no distinction made by the court as to which jurors are additional jurors and which jurors are regular jurors. Before the jury retires to consider its verdict, the court shall select by lot the names of the requisite number of jurors to reduce the jury to a body of twelve or such other number as the law provides. A juror who is not selected to be a member of the final jury shall be discharged when that jury retires to consider its verdict.

(2) Following the selection of the jury of twelve regular jurors or such other number as the law provides, the additional jurors shall be selected and impaneled as alternate jurors. Alternate jurors in the order in which they are called shall replace regular jurors who, prior to the time the jury retires to consider its verdict, become unable or disqualified to perform their duties. An alternate juror who does not replace a regular juror shall be discharged when the jury retires to consider its verdict.

47.03. Procedures for Exercising Peremptory Challenges.–After prospective jurors have been passed for cause, counsel will submit simultaneously and in writing, to the trial judge, the name of any juror in the group of the first twelve (or more if additional jurors are seated) who has been seated that either counsel elects to challenge peremptorily. Upon each submission, each counsel shall submit either a challenge or a blank sheet of paper. Neither party shall make known the fact that the party has not challenged. Replacement jurors will be seated in the panel of twelve (or more) in the order of their selection. If necessary, additional replacement jurors will then be examined for cause and, after passed, counsel will again submit simultaneously, and in writing, to the trial judge, the name of any juror in the group of twelve (or more) that counsel elects to challenge peremptorily. This procedure will be followed until a full jury has been selected and accepted by counsel. The trial judge will keep a list of those challenged and, if the same juror is challenged by both parties, each will be charged with the challenge. The trial judge shall not disclose to any juror the identity of the party challenging the juror. [As amended by order filed February 1, 1995, effective July 1, 1995; and by order filed January 31, 2003, effective July 1, 2003.]

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