How Many Jurors Are Selected In A Civil (Non-Criminal) Case?
Part one in a series of New Jersey court rules that affect a trial lawyer.
- A civil (non-criminal) case will be tried by a jury only if a jury trial is demanded by a party at the outset of a case.
- A deliberating jury in a civil case will consist of six persons, unless for good cause shown the court orders a jury of 12 persons. Or unless fewer than six jurors remain prior to commencement of deliberations and the parties then agree to submit the case to the remaining jurors. Or unless more than six jurors remain prior to the commencement of deliberations and the parties then agree that all remaining jurors shall deliberate.
- Unless the parties have agreed prior to the start of deliberations to accept a verdict or finding by a lesser number, the verdict or finding shall be by an agreement of at least five jurors when six jurors deliberate. Or by 10 jurors when 12 jurors deliberate.
- If the parties have agreed to submit the case to fewer than six jurors, the verdict or finding shall be unanimous, unless the parties have also agreed to a verdict by a lesser number.
- Selection of Alternate Jurors. The court may order that more than six (or twelve) jurors be selected. This will insure that a sufficient number of jurors will remain to deliberate, in case any juror must be excused. All the jurors shall sit and hear the case, but the court, for good cause, may excuse any of them. However, the number of jurors must not be reduced to less than 12 or 6, as the case may be. If more than such number are left on the jury at the conclusion of the court’s charge, the clerk of the court in the jury’s presence will randomly draw the number of names that will reduce the jury to the number required.
- The court may order that the alternate jurors not be discharged. Then the alternate jurors will be sequestered. If a deliberating juror dies or is discharged by the court because of illness or other inability to continue, the court may direct the clerk to draw the name of an alternate juror to take the place of the juror who is deceased or discharged.
- In civil actions, instead of selecting alternate jurors, the parties may agree that all remaining jurors will deliberate.