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Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 20: Trial Jurors

(Applicable to Superior Court and jury sessions in District Court)

[Disclaimer]

(a) Motion for Appropriate Relief. Either party may challenge the array by a motion for appropriate relief pursuant to rule 13(c). A challenge to the array shall be made only on the ground that the prospective jurors were not selected or drawn according to law. Challenges to the array shall be made and decided before any individual juror is examined unless otherwise ordered by the court. A challenge to the array shall be in writing supported by affidavit and shall specify the facts constituting the ground of the challenge. Challenges to the array shall be tried by the court and may in the discretion of the court be decided on the basis of the affidavit filed with the challenge. Upon the hearing of a challenge to the array, a witness may be examined on oath by the court and may be so examined by either party. If the challenge to the array is sustained, the court shall discharge the panel.

(b) Challenge for Cause.

(1) Examination of Juror. The court shall, or upon motion, the parties or their attorneys may under the direction of the court, examine on oath a person who is called as a juror in a case to learn whether he is related to either party, has any interest in the case, has expressed or formed an opinion, or is sensible of any bias or prejudice. The objecting party may, with the approval of the court, introduce other competent evidence in support of the objection.

(2) Examination upon Extraneous Issues. The court shall examine or cause a juror to be examined upon issues extraneous to the case if it appears that the juror's impartiality may have been affected by the extraneous issues. The examination may include a brief statement of the facts of the case, to the extent the facts are appropriate and relevant to the issues of such examination, and shall be conducted individually and outside the presence of other persons about to be called or already called as jurors.

(3) Challenge of Juror. Either party may challenge an individual prospective juror before the juror is sworn to try the case. The court may for cause shown permit a challenge to be made after the juror is sworn but before any evidence is presented. When a juror is challenged for cause, the ground of the challenge shall be stated. A challenge of a prospective juror and the statement of the grounds thereof may be made at the bench. The court shall determine the validity of each such challenge.

(c) Peremptory Challenges.

(1) Number of Challenges. Upon the trial of an indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for life, each defendant shall be entitled to twelve peremptory challenges of the jurors called to try the case; in any other criminal case tried before a jury of twelve, each defendant shall be entitled to four peremptory challenges; and in a case tried before a jury of six, each defendant shall be entitled to two peremptory challenges. Each defendant in a trial of an indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for life in which additional jurors are impaneled under subdivision (d) of this rule shall be entitled to one additional peremptory challenge for each additional juror. Each defendant in a case in which several indictments or complaints are consolidated for trial shall be entitled to no more peremptory challenges than the greatest number to which he would have been entitled upon trial of any one of the indictments or complaints alone. In every criminal case the Commonwealth shall be entitled to as many peremptory challenges as equal the whole number to which all the defendants in the case are entitled.

(2) Time of Challenge. Peremptory challenges shall be made before the jurors are sworn and may be made after the determination that a person called to serve as a juror stands indifferent in the case.

(d) Alternate Jurors.

(1) Impanelling Jury with Alternative Jurors. If a jury trial is likely to be protracted, the judge may impanel a jury of not more than sixteen members and the court shall have jurisdiction to try the case with that jury.

(2) Selection of Twelve Jurors. If at the time of the final submission of the case to the jury more than twelve members of the jury who have heard the whole case are alive and not incapacitated or disqualified, the judge shall direct the clerk to place the names of all the remaining jurors except the foreman in a box and draw the names of a sufficient number to reduce the jury to twelve members. Those jurors whose names are drawn shall not be discharged, but shall be known as alternate jurors and shall be kept separate and apart from the other jurors in some convenient place, subject to the same rules and regulations as the other jurors, until the jury has agreed upon a verdict or has been otherwise discharged.

(3) Disabled Juror: Selection of Alternate. If, at any time after the final submission of the case by the court to the jury but before the jury has agreed on a verdict, a juror dies, becomes ill, or is unable to perform his duty for any other cause, the judge may order him to be discharged and shall direct the clerk to place the names of all the remaining alternate jurors in a box and draw the name of an alternate who shall take the place of the discharged juror on the jury, which shall renew its deliberations with the alternate juror.

(e) Regulation and Separation of Jurors.

(1) Sequestration. After the jurors have been sworn they shall hear the case as a body and, within the discretion of the trial judge, may be sequestered.

(2) After Submission of the Cause. Unless the jurors have been sequestered for the duration of the trial, the judge after the final submission of the case, may order that the jurors be permitted to separate for a definite time to be fixed by the judge and then reconvene in the courtroom before retiring for consideration of their verdict.

(3) After Commencement of Deliberations. After final submission of the case to the jury and after deliberations have commenced, the judge may allow the jurors, under proper instructions, to separate for a definite time to be fixed by the judge and to reconvene in the courtroom before retiring for further deliberation of their verdict.