Chapter 15 - Jury

Chapter 15 - Jury

46.1501 Policy.


It is the policy of this Territory that all persons selected for jury service be selected at random from a fair cross-section of the population of the area served by the court, and that all qualified nationals and U.S. citizens who are residents of this Territory have the opportunity in accordance with this chapter to be considered for jury service in this Territory and an obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose.

46.1502 Prohibition of discrimination.


A national shall not be excluded from jury service in this Territory on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status, or on account of a physical handicap except as provided in paragraph (3) of 46.1504.

46.1503 Definitions.


As used in this chapter:

(a) “Clerk” and “Clerk of the Court” include any deputy clerk.

(b) “Court” means the High Court and District Court of this Territory, and includes, when the context requires, any judge of the court.

(c) “Jury wheel” means any physical device or electronic system for the storage of the names or identifying numbers of prospective jurors.

(d) “Name” when used in connection with prospective jurors, includes identifying numbers of the jurors.

(e) “National” means a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States. For purposes of this act the word “national” also includes persons who are citizens of the United States of America.

(f) “Physical handicap” means a physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities.

(g) "Resident” means a person, who has lived in this Territory for at least 90 days.

46.1504 Grounds of disqualification.


A prospective juror is disqualified to serve as a juror if he:

(1) is not a National of the United States, 18 years old and a resident of the Territory:

(2) is unable to read, speak, and understand the English or Samoan language;

(3) is incapable, by reason of his physical or mental disability, of rendering satisfactory jury service; but 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; or

(4) has been convicted of a felony in a Territorial, State, or Federal court and not pardoned.

46.1505 Disqualification by interest.


No person shall sit as a juror in any case in which his relative by affinity or by consanguinity within the 3d degree is interested, either as a plaintiff or defendant, or in the issue of which the juror has, either directly or through such relative, any pecuniary interest.

46.1506 Exemptions.


A person may claim exemption from service as a juror if he is:

(1) an attorney at law;

(2) a head of an executive department, an elected official, or a judge of the United States or the Territory;

(3) a minister or priest following his profession;

(4) a practicing physician or dentist;

(5) a member of the armed forces or militia when on active service, or an active member of a police or fire department.

46.1507 Excused for cause only.


A juror shall not be excused by a court for slight or trivial cause, but only when it appears that jury duty would entail a serious personal hardship, or that for other good cause he should be excused either temporarily or otherwise.

46.1508 Pay-Mileage fee.


The pay of jurors shall be $10 for each half day, and $20 for each day of actual attendance at court, and in addition 20¢ for each mile actually and necessarily traveled in going only. The mileage fee may be allowed to a juror although, upon his request, he is excused from jury service, or claims exemption from jury service, provided he reports in person at the time for which he was summoned. In the discretion of the court any juror who incurs expenses for transportation, board, and lodging as a result of the distance he resides from the location of the court may be reimbursed for actual expenses.

46.1509 Certificate for jury pay.


At least once each month, the clerk shall certify the number of days each juror has attended court and the amount due to him. Each juror shall state on oath to the clerk the number of miles traveled for which he is entitled to mileage.

46.1510 Jury commission.


A Jury Commission of 5 members is established to perform the duties prescribed by this chapter under the supervision and control of the court. The Jury Commission shall be composed of the Clerk of the Court and 4 Jury Commissioners appointed by the Chief Justice prior to 15 January of each year, for a term of 1 year from and after 15 January. The Jury Commissioners must be Nationals of the United States and residents of the Territory. Any Jury Commissioner may be removed by the appointing power for any reason considered sufficient by the appointing power. No more than 3 Commissioners shall be members of the same political district. If a vacancy occurs in the office of a Jury Commissioner at any time, another Commissioner shall be similarly appointed to fill the vacancy. Each Jury Commissioner, except the Clerk of Court appointed to the Commission, shall be allowed for services on the Jury Commission such compensation as may be determined by the judge or judges to be just and reasonable, not to exceed $400 per year, payable out of court expense funds.

46.1511 Master list.


(a) Not less than once each year the Jury Commission shall compile a master list. The master list shall consist of all voter registration lists for the Territory, which may be supplemented with names from other lists of persons resident therein such as lists of taxpayers and driver’s licenses. This includes names, address, and social security numbers taken from income tax returns and estimates.

(b) Whoever has custody, possession, or control of any of the lists which are to be used in compiling the master list, shall make the list available to the Jury Commission for inspection, reproduction, and copying at all reasonable times.

46.1512 Master jury wheel.


Not less than once each year the Jury Commission shall, by random selection, place in the master jury wheel the names of prospective jurors taken from the master list, in such number as the Jury Commission determines should be processed in order to provide the number of jurors required for the ensuing year. From time to time an additional number may be determined by the Jury Commission or ordered by the court to be placed in the master jury wheel.

46.1513 Juror qualification form.


The Jury Commission shall prepare an alphabetical list of the names in the master jury wheel, which shall not be disclosed to any person other than pursuant to this chapter or specific order of the court. The Jury Commission shall mail to every name on such list a juror qualification form accompanied by instructions to fill out and return the form by mail to the clerk within 10 days after its receipt. The form shall be subject to approval by the court as to matters of form and shall elicit the name, address of resident, age of the prospective juror, other information pertinent to disqualification or exemption from jury service, and such other matters as may be ordered by the court. The form further shall contain the prospective juror’s declaration that his responses are true to the best of his knowledge and his acknowledgment that a willful misrepresentation of a material fact may be punished by a class B misdemeanor. Notarization of the juror qualification form shall not be required. If the prospective juror is unable to fill out the form, another person may do it for him and shall indicate that he has done so and the reason there for. Upon failure or refusal of any person duly receiving the juror qualification form to complete and return it as required, or in case of an omission, ambiguity, or error in a returned form, the court, after first summoning the person to appear before the clerk to complete or correct the form, may punish the person for contempt.

46.1514 Questing of prospective juror.


At the time of his appearance for jury service, or at the time of any interview before the court, Jury Commission, or clerk, any prospective juror may be required or permitted to fill out another juror qualification form in the presence of the court, Jury Commission, or clerk, at which time the prospective juror may be questioned, but only with regard to his questions contained on the form and grounds for his exemption, excuse or disqualification. Any information thus acquired by the court, jury commission, or clerk shall be noted on the juror qualification form.

46.1515 Summons for examination of prospective jurors.


The jury commission may in its discretion, by court process, summon prospective jurors before it for examination. A person summoned for examination shall receive mileage as under 46.1508.

46.1516 Misrepresentation of material facts.


Any person who willfully misrepresents a material fact on a juror qualification form for the purpose of avoiding or securing service as a juror is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

46.1517 Qualified jury wheel.


Upon return of the juror qualification forms, the jury commission shall, after careful investi-gation in each case, select for jury service all those persons whom it believes are qualified and not exempt; provided, that any person who is exempt may be selected if he waives his exemption. The names of the persons so selected shall be placed in the qualified jury wheel, to be used in compiling lists of jurors subject to service during the ensuing year: provided, that the jury commission may, with the approval of the court, excuse a prospective juror for any cause set forth under 46.1507, in which case the name of such excused person shall not be placed in the qualified jury wheel.

46.1518 Certified jury lists.


Every year the jury commission shall make and, not later than 5 January, file with the clerk of the court 1 or more certified lists of the names and addresses of 50 nationals, or such greater number as the court may order, subject to serve as jurors during the ensuing year from and after 15 January. At the same time the jury commission shall likewise file a separate certified list of the names and addresses of nationals subject to serve as trial jurors during the ensuing year, after 15 January, the number as the jury commission considers necessary. The certified lists of trial jurors shall be compiled from names drawn at random from the qualified jury wheel, and shall be prepared in alphabetical sequence. The names on the certified lists shall be open to public inspection, subject to order of the court.

46.1519 Drawing of trial jury.


(a) In the High Court, this section shall be applicable to the drawing of a trial jury and service thereon.

(b) Not later than 15 January of each year, the clerk shall draw at random from the names on the certified list of trial jurors such number of trial jury panels as is deemed sufficient for the ensuing year, each panel to consist of 18 names. When directed by the court, additional panels shall be drawn. The names and juror qualification forms for the prospective jurors on each panel shall be sealed in envelopes, 1 envelope for each panel. The envelopes shall remain sealed and in the custody of the clerk.

(c) Whenever a judge requires the services of a trial jury for use in proceedings before him or any other judge of the court, he may order the required number of panels from the clerk. Upon receipt by the judge of the envelopes containing the panels, the contents thereof shall be made available to the litigants concerned.

(d) The whole or any number of the jurors from a panel or panels ordered by a judge may be required to attend and serve. The names of those summoned and present, and not disqualified, excused or exempted, shall be placed in an appropriate container, from which there shall be drawn a sufficient number of names to constitute a trial jury. The drawing shall be by lot in open court under the supervision of the judge. There is no requirement that names on a particular panel be exhausted before those on another panel may be used in the drawing, and the names of jurors on different panels which have been transmitted to the judge may be mixed with each other in the container during the drawing. If a jury cannot be chosen for the trial of a case from the names placed in the container before the drawing commenced, additional names may be placed in the container. For this purpose additional panels may be ordered and the prospective jurors summoned. The judge may summon jurymen from among bystanders on consent of all parties.

(e) Prospective jurors in attendance but not actually serving in a trial before him shall be subject to such orders relative to further jury service as the judge deems appropriate, including service before other judges.

(f) Each panel ordered by a judge shall serve for a period of 30 days, commencing from the 1st day the panel is required to appear for service; provided, that any juror may be required to serve beyond the 30-day period for the trial of any case in which the selection of the jury commenced within that period. Upon completion of service by all members of a panel, such panel shall be returned to the clerk which shall not transmit such panel again to any judge until all other panels have been exhausted and other panels which served at a more remote time have been first transmitted for service.

(g) A judge may, having regard to the equitable distribution of jury service, excuse any juror after actual service in trial.

46.1520 Summoning of jurors.


(a) When so ordered by the court, the clerk shall transmit to the Commissioner of Public Safety or Marshal the names of jurors to be summoned. The Commissioner of Public Safety or Marshal, either personally or through an authorized subordinate, shall summon the persons named to attend the court by giving personal notice to each of the time and place of required appearance as fixed by order of the court. The court may order the summoning of jurors by any officer of the court and the service of summons by any form of personal notice, including notice by telephone.

(b) A juror who willfully or without reasonable excuse fails to attend after personal service of written summons by a Commissioner of Public Safety or Marshal may be arrested and punished for contempt.

46.1521 Requests for exemption or excuse.


If a person who is exempt or who believes himself to be entitled to be excused from jury duty, is summoned as a juror, he may, even though he did not request exemption or excuse previously, or was not exempted or excused by the jury commission, make his request for exemption or excuse to the judge of the court. The request may be made to the clerk or marshal, who shall deliver it to the judge, and if sufficient in substance, it shall be received as an excuse for nonattendance in person.

46.1522 Jurors disqualified, exempted, or excused.


Whenever a juror has been disqualified, exempted, or excused, that fact shall be noted on his juror qualification form, and he shall not be subject to service for the period of time commensurate with the nature and circumstances of his disqualification, exemption, or excuse.

46.1523 Term of jurors.


The persons whose names are placed on the certified lists filed by the jury commission shall be subject to service for 1 year from and after 15 January and until the filing of new certified lists, provided, that jurors may sit beyond the end of the period above prescribed for the trial of any case in which the selection of the jury commenced within said period.

46.1524 Challenging compliance with selection procedures.


(a) Promptly after the moving party discovered or by the exercise of diligence could have discovered the grounds therefor, and in any event before the trial jury is sworn to try the case, a party may move to stay the proceedings, and in a criminal case for other appropriate relief, on the ground of substantial failure to comply with this chapter in selecting the trial jury.

(b) Upon motion filed under subsection (a) 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 a jury Commissioner or the clerk, any relevant records and papers not public or otherwise available used by the jury commission or the clerk, and any other relevant evidence. If the court determines that in selecting a trial jury there has been a substantial failure to comply with this chapter and that the moving party has been prejudiced thereby, the court shall stay the proceedings pending the selection of the jury in conformity with this chapter, or grant other appropriate relief.

(c) The procedures prescribed by this section are the exclusive means by which a person accused of a crime, the territory, or a party in a civil case may challenge a jury on the ground that the jury was not selected in conformity with this chapter.

(d) The contents of any records or papers used by the jury commission or the clerk in connection with the selection process shall not be disclosed except as provided by other provisions of this chapter, or in connection with preparation or presentation of a motion under subsection (a) or upon order of the court. The parties in a case may inspect, reproduce, and copy the records or papers at all reasonable times during the preparation and pendency of a motion under subsection (a).

46.1525 Preservation of records.


All records and papers compiled and maintained by the jury commission or the clerk in connection with selection and service of jurors shall be preserved by the clerk in connection with selection and service of jurors shall be preserved by the clerk for 4 years after the termination of the prescribed period of service and for any longer period ordered by the court.

46.1526 Protection of jurors employment.


(a) An employer shall not deprive an employee of his employment, or threaten or otherwise coerce him 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) is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

(c) If an employer discharges an employee in violation of subsection (a), the employee within 90 days from the date of discharge may bring a civil action for recovery of wages lost as a result of the violation and for an order requiring the reinstatement of the employee. Damages recoverable shall not exceed lost wages for 6 weeks. If he prevails, the employee shall be allowed a reasonable attorney’s fee fixed by the court.

46.1527 Use of electronic or electromechanical devices for drawing trial juries.


Selections of citizens who are subject to jury duty and drawings of jury lists and panels may be made by means of electronic or electromechanical devices commonly designated as data processing equipment such as punch cards, electronic tape, random access files, and other solid state devices when they are available for their use and the court so orders.