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URCP Rule 47 (Rules of Civil Procedure)

 

Rule 47. Jurors.
Rule printed on January 30, 2023 at 8:14 pm. Go to https://www.utcourts.gov/rules for current rules.
 

(a) Examination of jurors. The court may permit the parties or their attorneys to conduct the examination of prospective jurors or may itself conduct the examination. In the latter event, the court shall permit the parties or their attorneys to supplement the examination by such further inquiry as is material and proper or shall itself submit to the prospective jurors such additional questions of the parties or their attorneys as is material and proper. Prior to examining the jurors, the court may make a preliminary statement of the case. The court may permit the parties or their attorneys to make a preliminary statement of the case, and notify the parties in advance of trial.

(b) Alternate jurors. The court may direct that alternate jurors be impaneled. Alternate jurors, in the order in which they are called, shall replace jurors who, prior to the time the jury retires to consider its verdict, become unable or disqualified to perform their duties. Alternate jurors shall be selected at the same time and 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, and privileges as principal jurors. An alternate juror who does not replace a principal juror shall be discharged when the jury retires to consider its verdict unless the parties stipulate otherwise and the court approves the stipulation. The court may withhold from the jurors the identity of the alternate jurors until the jurors begin deliberations..

(c) Challenge defined; by whom made. A challenge is an objection made to the trial jurors and may be directed (1) to the panel or (2) to an individual juror.

(d) Challenge to panel; time and manner of taking; proceedings. A challenge to the panel can be founded only on a material departure from the forms prescribed in respect to the drawing and return of the jury, or on the intentional omission of the proper officer to summon one or more of the jurors drawn. It must be taken before a juror is sworn. It must be in writing or be stated on the record, and must specifically set forth the facts constituting the ground of challenge. If the challenge is allowed, the court must discharge the jury so far as the trial in question is concerned.

(e) Challenges to individual jurors; number of peremptory challenges. The challenges to individual jurors are either peremptory or for cause. Each party shall be entitled to three peremptory challenges. Several defendants or several plaintiffs shall be considered as a single party for the purposes of making peremptory challenges unless there is a substantial controversy between them, in which case the court shall allow as many additional peremptory challenges as is just. If one or two alternate jurors are called, each party is entitled to one peremptory challenge in addition to those otherwise allowed.

(f) Challenges for cause. A challenge for cause is an objection to a particular juror and shall be heard and determined by the court. The juror challenged and any other person may be examined as a witness on the hearing of such challenge. A challenge for cause may be taken on one or more of the following grounds. On its own motion the court may remove a juror upon the same grounds.

(f)(1) A want of any of the qualifications prescribed by law to render a person competent as a juror.

(f)(2) Consanguinity or affinity within the fourth degree to either party, or to an officer of a corporation that is a party.

(f)(3) Standing in the relation of debtor and creditor, guardian and ward, master and servant, employer and employee or principal and agent, to either party, or united in business with either party, or being on any bond or obligation for either party; provided, that the relationship of debtor and creditor shall be deemed not to exist between a municipality and a resident thereof indebted to such municipality by reason of a tax, license fee, or service charge for water, power, light or other services rendered to such resident.

(f)(4) Having served as a juror, or having been a witness, on a previous trial between the same parties for the same cause of action, or being then a witness therein.

(f)(5) Pecuniary interest on the part of the juror in the result of the action, or in the main question involved in the action, except interest as a member or citizen of a municipal corporation.

(f)(6) Conduct, responses, state of mind or other circumstances that reasonably lead the court to conclude the juror is not likely to act impartially. No person may serve as a juror, if challenged, unless the judge is convinced the juror can and will act impartially and fairly.

(g) Selection of jury. The judge shall determine the method of selecting the jury and notify the parties at a pretrial conference or otherwise prior to trial. The following methods for selection are not exclusive.

(g)(1) Strike and replace method. The court shall summon the number of jurors that are to try the cause plus such an additional number as will allow for any alternates, for all peremptory challenges permitted, and for all challenges for cause that may be granted. At the direction of the judge, the clerk shall call jurors in random order. The judge may hear and determine challenges for cause during the course of questioning or at the end thereof. The judge may and, at the request of any party, shall hear and determine challenges for cause outside the hearing of the jurors. After each challenge for cause sustained, another juror shall be called to fill the vacancy , and any such new juror may be challenged for cause. When the challenges for cause are completed, the clerk shall provide a list of the jurors remaining, and each side, beginning with the plaintiff, shall indicate thereon its peremptory challenge to one juror at a time in regular turn until all peremptory challenges are exhausted or waived. The clerk shall then call the remaining jurors, or so many of them as shall be necessary to constitute the jury, including any alternate jurors, and the persons whose names are so called shall constitute the jury. If alternate jurors have been selected, the last jurors called shall be the alternates, unless otherwise ordered by the court prior to voir dire.

(g)(2) Struck method. The court shall summon the number of jurors that are to try the cause plus such an additional number as will allow for any alternates, for all peremptory challenges permitted and for all challenges for cause that may be granted. At the direction of the judge, the clerk shall call jurors in random order. The judge may hear and determine challenges for cause during the course of questioning or at the end thereof. The judge may and, at the request of any party, shall hear and determine challenges for cause outside the hearing of the jurors. When the challenges for cause are completed, the clerk shall provide a list of the jurors remaining, and each side, beginning with the plaintiff, shall indicate thereon its peremptory challenge to one juror at a time in regular turn until all peremptory challenges are exhausted or waived. The clerk shall then call the remaining jurors, or so many of them as shall be necessary to constitute the jury, including any alternate jurors, and the persons whose names are so called shall constitute the jury. If alternate jurors have been selected, the last jurors called shall be the alternates, unless otherwise ordered by the court prior to voir dire.

(g)(3) In courts using lists of prospective jurors generated in random order by computer, the clerk may call the jurors in that random order.

(h) Oath of jury. As soon as the jury is selected an oath must be administered to the jurors, in substance, that they and each of them will well and truly try the matter in issue between the parties, and render a true verdict according to the evidence and the instructions of the court.

(i) Proceedings when juror discharged. If, after impaneling the jury and before verdict, a juror becomes unable or disqualified to perform the duties of a juror and there is no alternate juror, the parties may agree to proceed with the other jurors, or to swear a new juror and commence the trial anew. If the parties do not so agree the court shall discharge the jury and the case shall be tried with a new jury.

(j) Questions by jurors. A judge may invite jurors to submit written questions to a witness as provided in this section.

(j)(1) If the judge permits jurors to submit questions, the judge shall control the process to ensure the jury maintains its role as the impartial finder of fact and does not become an investigative body. The judge may disallow any question from a juror and may discontinue questions from jurors at any time.

(j)(2) If the judge permits jurors to submit questions, the judge should advise the jurors that they may write the question as it occurs to them and submit the question to the bailiff for transmittal to the judge. The judge should advise the jurors that some questions might not be allowed.

(j)(3) The judge shall review the question with counsel and unrepresented parties and rule upon any objection to the question. The judge may disallow a question even though no objection is made. The judge shall preserve the written question in the court file. If the question is allowed, the judge shall ask the question or permit counsel or an unrepresented party to ask it. The question may be rephrased into proper form. The judge shall allow counsel and unrepresented parties to examine the witness after the juror's question.

(k) View by jury. When in the opinion of the court it is proper for the jury to have a view of the property which is the subject of litigation, or of the place in which any material fact occurred, it may order them to be conducted in a body under the charge of an officer to the place, which shall be shown to them by some person appointed by the court for that purpose. While the jury are thus absent no person other than the person so appointed shall speak to them on any subject connected with the trial.

(l) Communication with jurors. There shall be no off-the-record communication between jurors and lawyers, parties, witnesses or persons acting on their behalf. Jurors shall not communicate with any person regarding a subject of the trial. Jurors may communicate with court personnel and among themselves about topics other than a subject of the trial. It is the duty of jurors not to form or express an opinion regarding a subject of the trial except during deliberation. The judge shall so admonish the jury at the beginning of trial and remind them as appropriate.

(m) Deliberation of jury. When the case is finally submitted to the jury they may decide in court or retire for deliberation. If they retire they must be kept together in some convenient place under charge of an officer until they agree upon a verdict or are discharged, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Unless by order of the court, the officer having charge of them must not make or allow to be made any communication to them with respect to the action, except to ask them if they have agreed upon their verdict, and the officer must not, before the verdict is rendered, communicate to any person the state of deliberations or the verdict agreed upon.

(n) Exhibits taken by jury; notes. Upon retiring for deliberation the jury may take with them the instructions of the court and all exhibits which have been received as evidence in the cause, except exhibits that should not, in the opinion of the court, be in the possession of the jury, such as exhibits of unusual size, weapons or contraband. The court shall permit the jury to view exhibits upon request. Jurors are entitled to take notes during the trial and to have those notes with them during deliberations. As necessary, the court shall provide jurors with writing materials and instruct the jury on taking and using notes.

(o) Additional instructions of jury. After the jury have retired for deliberation, if there is a disagreement among them as to any part of the testimony, or if they desire to be informed on any point of law arising in the cause, they may require the officer to conduct them into court. Upon their being brought into court the information required must be given in the presence of, or after notice to, the parties or counsel. Such information must be given in writing or stated on the record.

(p) New trial when no verdict given. If a jury is discharged or prevented from giving a verdict for any reason, the action shall be tried anew.

(q) Court deemed in session pending verdict; verdict may be sealed. While the jury is absent the court may be adjourned from time to time in respect to other business, but it shall be open for every purpose connected with the cause submitted to the jury, until a verdict is rendered or the jury discharged. The court may direct the jury to bring in a sealed verdict at the opening of the court, in case of an agreement during a recess or adjournment for the day.

(r) Declaration of verdict. When the jury or three-fourths of them, or such other number as may have been agreed upon by the parties pursuant to Rule 48, have agreed upon a verdict they must be conducted into court, their names called by the clerk, and the verdict rendered by their foreperson; the verdict must be in writing, signed by the foreperson, and must be read by the clerk to the jury, and the inquiry made whether it is their verdict. Either party may require the jury to be polled, which shall be done by the court or clerk asking each juror if it is the juror's verdict. If, upon such inquiry or polling there is an insufficient number of jurors agreeing therewith, the jury must be sent out again; otherwise the verdict is complete and the jury shall be discharged from the cause.

(s) Correction of verdict. If the verdict rendered is informal or insufficient, it may be corrected by the jury under the advice of the court, or the jury may be sent out again.


Advisory Committee Notes

Paragraph (a) The preliminary statement of the case does not serve the same purpose as the opening statement presented after the jury is selected. The preliminary statement of the case serves only to provide a brief context in which the jurors might more knowledgeably answer questions during voir dire. A preliminary opening statement is not required and may serve no useful purpose in short trials or trials with relatively simple issues. The judge should be particularly attuned to prevent argument or posturing at this early stage of the trial.

Paragraph (f)(6). The Utah Supreme Court has noted a tendency of trial court judges to rule against a challenge for cause in the face of legitimate questions about a juror's biases. The Supreme Court limited the following admonition to capital cases, but it is a sound philosophy even in trials of lesser consequence.

[W]e take this opportunity to address an issue of growing concern to this court. We are perplexed by the trial courts' frequent insistence on passing jurors for cause in death penalty cases when legitimate concerns about their suitability have been raised during voir dire. While the abuse-of-discretion standard of review affords trial courts wide latitude in making their for-cause determinations, we are troubled by their tendency to "push the edge of the envelope," especially when capital voir dire panels are so large and the death penalty is at issue. Moreover, capital cases are extremely costly, in terms of both time and money. Passing questionable jurors increases the drain on the state's resources and jeopardizes an otherwise valid conviction and/or sentence. ... If a party raises legitimate questions as to a potential juror's beliefs, biases, or physical ability to serve, the potential juror should be struck for cause, even where it would not be legally erroneous to refuse. State v. Carter, 888 P.2d 629 (Utah 1995).

In determining challenges for cause, the task of the judge is to find the proper balance. It is not the judge's duty to seat a jury from a too-small venire panel or to seat a jury as quickly as possible. Although thorough questioning of a juror to determine the existence, nature and extent of a bias is appropriate, it is not the judge's duty to extract the "right" answer from or to "rehabilitate" a juror. The judge should accept honest answers to understood questions and, based on that evidence, make the sometimes difficult decision to seat only those jurors the judge is convinced will act fairly and impartially. This higher duty demands a sufficient venire panel and sufficient voir dire. The trial court judge enjoys considerable discretion in limiting voir dire when there is no apparent link between a question and potential bias, but "when proposed voir dire questions go directly to the existence of an actual bias, that discretion disappears. The trial court must allow such inquiries." The court should ensure the parties have a meaningful opportunity to explore grounds for challenges for cause and to ask follow-up questions, either through direct questioning or questioning by the court.

The objective of a challenge for cause is to remove from the venire panel persons who cannot act impartially in deliberating upon a verdict. The lack of impartiality may be due to some bias for or against one of the parties; it may be due to an opinion about the subject matter of the action or about the action itself. The civil rules of procedure have a few - and the criminal rules many more - specific circumstances, usually a relationship with a party or a circumstance of the juror, from which the bias of the juror is inferred. In addition to these enumerated grounds for a challenge for cause, both the civil rules and the criminal rules close with the following grounds: formulation by the juror of a state of mind that will prevent the juror from acting impartially. However, the rules go on to provide that no person shall be disqualified as a juror by reason of having formed an opinion upon the matter if it satisfactorily appears to the court that the person will, notwithstanding that opinion, act impartially.

The amendments focus on the "state of mind" clause. In determining whether a person can act impartially, the court should focus not only on that person's state of mind but should consider the totality of the circumstances. These circumstances might include the experiences, conduct, statements, opinions, or associations of the juror. Rather than determining that the juror is "prevented" from acting impartially, the court should determine whether the juror "is not likely to act impartially." These amendments conform to the directive of the Supreme Court: If there is a legitimate question about the ability of a person to act impartially, the court should remove that person from the panel.

There is no need to modify this determination with the statement that a juror who can set aside an opinion based on public journals, rumors or common notoriety and act impartially should not be struck. Having read or heard of the matter and even having an opinion about the matter do not meet the standard of the rule. Well-informed and involved citizens are not automatically to be disqualified from jury service. Sound public policy supports knowledgeable, involved citizens as jurors. The challenge for the court is to evaluate the impact of this extra-judicial information on the ability of the person to act impartially. Information and opinions about the case remain relevant to but not determinative of the question: "Will the person be a fair and impartial juror?"

In stating that no person may serve as a juror unless the judge is "convinced" the juror will act impartially, the Committee uses the term "convinced" advisedly. The term is not intended to suggest the application of a clear and convincing standard of proof in determining juror impartiality, such a high standard being contrary to the Committee's objectives. Nor is the term intended to undermine the long-held presumption that potential jurors who satisfy the basic requirements imposed by statutes and rules are qualified to serve. Rather, the term is intended to encourage the trial judge to be thorough and deliberative in evaluating challenges for cause. Although not an evidentiary standard at all, the term "convinced" implies a high standard for judicial decision-making. Review of the decision should remain limited to an abuse of discretion.

This new standard for challenges for cause represents a balance more easily stated than achieved. These amendments encourage judges to exercise greater care in evaluating challenges for cause and to resolve legitimate doubts in favor of removal. This may mean some jurors now removed by peremptory challenge will be removed instead for cause. It may also mean the court will have to summon more prospective jurors for voir dire. Whether lawyers will use fewer peremptory challenges will have to await the judgment of experience.

Paragraph (m). The committee recommends amending paragraph (m) to establish the right of jurors to take notes and to have those notes with them during deliberations. The committee recommends removing depositions from the paragraph not in order to permit the jurors to have depositions but to recognize that depositions are not evidence. Depositions read into evidence will be treated as any other oral testimony. These amendments and similar amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure will make the two provisions identical.

Advisory Committee Note. Paragraph (j) The committee intends neither to encourage nor to discourage the practice of inviting jurors to submit written questions of witnesses, but only to regulate and make uniform the procedure by which it occurs should the judge exercise discretion in favor of the practice. In exercising that discretion, the committee encourages the judge to discuss the matter beforehand, at the pretrial conference if possible, and consider points in favor of or opposed to the practice. In instructing the jurors and to promote restraint among them, the committee encourages the judge to remind jurors that lawyers are trained to elicit the evidence necessary to decide the case.


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Page Last modified: 3/29/2022

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