2004 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Denny, Akins, Aldridge, Beckett, Bentz, Chism, Davis, Ellington, Fillingane, Formby, Gunn, Hamilton (6th), Janus, Lott, Martinson, Mayhall, Mims, Moore, Reed, Simpson, Snowden, Staples, Turner, Wells-Smith, Zuber
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 13-5-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ELIMINATE CERTAIN JUROR DISQUALIFICATIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 13-5-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT JURORS CAN ONLY BE EXCUSED FROM SERVICE FOR ILLNESS OR UNDUE HARDSHIP; TO CODIFY SECTION 13-5-24, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT JURORS CAN POSTPONE JURY SERVICE ONE TIME ONLY; TO AMEND SECTION 13-5-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO LIMIT THE FREQUENCY OF JURY SERVICE; TO AMEND SECTION 13-5-34, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CHANGE THE PUNISHMENT FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR JURY SERVICE; TO CODIFY SECTION 13-5-99, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT PROTECTIONS FOR JURORS; TO AMEND SECTION 19-3-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ELIMINATE CERTAIN JUROR EXEMPTIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 25-7-61, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CREATE A LENGTHY TRIAL FUND; TO AMEND SECTION 33-1-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ELIMINATE CERTAIN JUROR EXEMPTIONS; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 41-17-7 AND 47-5-55, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDE CERTAIN EXEMPTIONS FROM JURY SERVICE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 13-5-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
13-5-1. Every citizen not under the age of twenty-one (21) years, who is either a qualified elector, or a resident freeholder of the county for more than one (1) year, is able to read and write, and has not been convicted of an infamous crime or the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors within a period of five (5) years * * * is a competent juror. No person who is or has been within twelve (12) months the overseer of a public road or road contractor shall, however, be competent to serve as a grand juror. The lack of any such qualifications on the part of one or more jurors shall not, however, vitiate an indictment or verdict. Moreover, no talesman or tales juror shall be qualified who has served as such talesman or tales juror in the last preceding two (2) years, and no juror shall serve on any jury who has served as such for the last preceding two (2) years. No juror * * * who has a case of his own pending in that court shall serve in his own case.
In order to determine that prospective jurors can read and write, the presiding judge shall, with the assistance of the clerk, distribute to the jury panel a form to be completed personally by each juror prior to being empaneled as follows:
"1. Your name ________ Last ________ First ________ Middle initial
2. Your home address ________
3. Your occupation ________
4. Your age ________
5. Your telephone number ________ If none, write 'None'
6. If you live outside the county seat, the number of miles you live from the courthouse ________ miles
Sign your name"
The judge shall personally examine the answers of each juror prior to empaneling the jury and each juror who cannot complete the above form shall be disqualified as a juror and discharged.
A list of any jurors disqualified for jury duty by reason of inability to complete the form shall be kept by the circuit clerk and their names shall not be placed in the jury box thereafter until such person can qualify as above provided.
SECTION 2. Section 13-5-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
13-5-23. (1) All qualified persons shall be liable to serve as jurors, unless excused by the court for one (1) of the following causes:
(a) When the juror is ill and is incapable of performing jury service; or * * *
(b) When the juror's attendance would cause undue or extreme physical or financial hardship to the prospective juror or a person under his or her care or supervision.
* * *
(2) An excuse of illness under paragraph (1)(a) of this section may be made to the clerk of court outside of open court by providing the clerk with * * * a certificate of a licensed physician * * *, stating that the juror is ill and is unfit for jury service for a period of up to two (2) years.
(3) (a) The test of an excuse under paragraph (1)(b) of this section for undue or extreme physical or financial hardship shall be whether the individual would either:
(i) Be required to abandon a person under his or her personal care or supervision due to the impossibility of obtaining an appropriate substitute caregiver during the period of participation in the jury pool or on the jury; or
(ii) Incur costs that would have a substantial adverse impact on the payment of the individual's necessary daily living expenses or on those for whom he or she provides the principal means of support; or
(iii) Suffer physical hardship that would result in illness or disease.
(b) "Undue or extreme physical or financial hardship" does not exist solely based on the fact that a prospective juror will be required to be absent from his or her place of employment.
(c) A judge of the court for which the individual was called to jury service shall decide whether to excuse an individual under paragraph (1)(b) of this section. The authority to excuse is delegable only to court officials or members of the judiciary.
(d) A person asking to be excused based on a finding of undue or extreme physical or financial hardship must take all actions necessary to have obtained a ruling on that request by no later than the date on which the individual is scheduled to appear for jury duty.
(e) A person asking a judge to grant an excuse under paragraph (1)(b) of this section shall be required to provide the judge with documentation such as, but not limited to, federal and state income tax returns, medical statements from licensed physicians, proof of dependency or guardianship and similar documents, which the judge finds to clearly support the request to be excused. Failure to provide satisfactory documentation shall result in a denial of the request to be excused.
(4) After two (2) years, a person excused from jury service shall become eligible once again for qualification as a juror unless the person was excused from service permanently. A person is excused from jury service permanently only when the deciding judge determines that the underlying grounds for being excused are of a permanent nature.
* * *
(5) * * * A tales juror * * * shall not be compelled to serve two (2) days successively unless the case in which the juror is impaneled continues longer than one (1) day. Grand jurors shall serve until discharged by the court.
SECTION 3. The following shall be codified as Section 13-5-24, Mississippi Code of 1972:
13-5-24. (1) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, individuals scheduled to appear for jury service have the right to postpone the date of their initial appearance for jury service one (1) time only. Postponements shall be granted upon request, provided that:
(a) The juror has not previously been granted a postponement;
(b) The prospective juror appears in person or contacts the clerk of the court by telephone, electronic mail or in writing to request a postponement; and
(c) Prior to the grant of a postponement with the concurrence of the clerk of the court, the prospective juror fixes a date certain to appear for jury service that is not more than six (6) months after the date on which the prospective juror originally was called to serve and on which date the court will be in session.
(2) A subsequent request to postpone jury service may be approved by a judicial officer only in the event of an extreme emergency, such as a death in the family, sudden illness, or a natural disaster or a national emergency in which the prospective juror is personally involved, that could not have been anticipated at the time the initial postponement was granted. Prior to the grant of a second postponement, the prospective juror must fix a date certain on which the individual will appear for jury service within six (6) months of the postponement on a date when the court will be in session.
SECTION 4. Section 13-5-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
13-5-25. Every citizen over sixty-five (65) years of age, and everyone who has served on the regular panel as a juror in the actual trial of one or more litigated cases within two (2) years, shall be exempt from service if he claims the privilege * * *. No qualified juror shall be excluded because of any such reasons, but the same shall be a personal privilege to be claimed by any person selected for jury duty. Any citizen over sixty-five (65) years of age may claim this personal privilege outside of open court by providing the clerk of court with information that allows the clerk to determine the validity of the claim.
Provided, however, that no person who has served on the regular panel as a juror in the actual trial of one or more litigated cases in one (1) court may claim the exemption in any other court where he may be called to serve.
SECTION 5. Section 13-5-34, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
13-5-34. (1) A person summoned for jury service who fails to appear or to complete jury service as directed, and who has failed to obtain a postponement in compliance with the provisions for requesting a postponement, or who fails to appear on the date set pursuant to Section 13-5-24 shall be ordered by the court to appear forthwith and show cause for his failure to comply with the summons. If he fails to show good cause for noncompliance with the summons he is in civil contempt of court and * * * may be fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned not more than three (3) days, or both. The prospective juror may be excused from paying sanctions for good cause shown or in the interest of justice.
(2) In addition to, or in lieu of, the fine or imprisonment provided in subsection (1) of this section, the court may order that the prospective juror complete a period of community service for a period no less than if the prospective juror would have completed jury service, and provide proof of completion of this community service to the court.
SECTION 6. The following shall be codified as Section 13-5-99, Mississippi Code of 1972:
13-5-99. (1) It shall be unlawful for any employer or any other person to persuade or attempt to persuade any juror to avoid jury service; to intimidate or to threaten any juror in that respect; or to remove or otherwise subject an employee to adverse employment action as a result of jury service if the employee notifies his or her employer that he or she has been summoned to serve as a juror within a reasonable period of time after receipt of a summons.
(2) It shall be unlawful for an employer to require or request an employee to use annual, vacation or sick leave for time spent responding to a summons for jury duty, time spent participating in the jury selection process, or time spent actually serving on a jury. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to require an employer to provide annual, vacation or sick leave to employees under the provisions of this statute who otherwise are not entitled to such benefits under company policies.
(3) Any violation of subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall be deemed an interference with the administration of justice and a contempt of court and punishable as such.
(4) A court shall automatically postpone and reschedule the service of a summoned juror employed by an employer with five (5) or fewer full-time employees, or their equivalent, if another employee of that employer has previously been summoned to appear during the same period. Such postponement will not constitute the excused individual's right to one (1) automatic postponement under Section 13-5-24.
SECTION 7. Section 19-3-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
19-3-37. Each member of the board of supervisors shall, during his term of office, be exempt from working on the roads and from serving in the militia * * *.
SECTION 8. Section 25-7-61, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-7-61. (1) Fees of jurors shall be payable as follows:
(a) Grand jurors and petit jurors in the chancery, county, circuit and special eminent domain courts shall be paid an amount to be set by the board of supervisors, not to be less than Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) per day and not to be greater than Forty Dollars ($40.00) per day, plus mileage authorized in Section 25-3-41. In the trial of all cases where jurors are in charge of bailiffs and are not permitted to separate, the sheriff with the approval of the trial judge may pay for room and board of jurors on panel for actual time of trial.
No grand juror shall receive any compensation except mileage unless he shall have been sworn as provided by Section 13-5-45; and no petit juror except those jurors called on special venires shall receive any compensation authorized under this subsection except mileage unless he shall have been sworn as provided by Section 13-5-71.
(b) Jurors making inquisitions of idiocy, lunacy or of unsound mind and jurors on coroner's inquest shall be paid Five Dollars ($5.00) per day plus mileage authorized in Section 25-3-41 by the county treasurer on order of the board of supervisors on certificate of the clerk of the chancery court in which such inquisition is held.
(c) Jurors in the justice courts shall be paid an amount of not less than Ten Dollars ($10.00) per day and not more than Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) per day, to be established by the board of supervisors. In all criminal cases in the justice court wherein the prosecution fails, the fees of jurors shall be paid by the county treasurer on order of the board of supervisors on certificate of the county attorney in all counties that have county attorneys, otherwise by the justice court judge.
(2) Any juror may return the fees provided as compensation for service as a juror to the county which paid for such person's service as a juror. The fees returned to the county may be earmarked for a particular purpose to be selected by the juror, including:
(a) The local public library;
(b) Local law enforcement;
(c) The Mississippi Fire Fighters Memorial Burn Center Fund created in Section 7-9-70, Mississippi Code of 1972; or
(d) Any other governmental agency.
(3) The Administrative Office of Courts shall promulgate rules to establish a Lengthy Trial Fund to be used to provide full or partial wage replacement or wage supplementation to jurors who serve as petit jurors in civil cases for more than ten (10) days.
(a) The court rules shall provide for the following:
(i) The selection and appointment of an administrator for the fund.
(ii) Procedures for the administration of the fund, including payments of salaries of the administrator and other necessary personnel.
(iii) Procedures for the accounting, auditing and investment of money in the Lengthy Trial Fund.
(iv) A report by the Administrative Office of Courts on the administration of the Lengthy Trial Fund in its annual report on the judicial branch, setting forth the money collected for and disbursed from the fund.
(b) Notwithstanding any other fees required under state law, each trial court shall collect from each attorney who files a civil case, unless otherwise exempted under the provisions of this section, a fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00) per case to be paid into the Lengthy Trial Fund. A lawyer will be deemed to have "filed a case" at the time the first pleading or other filing on which an individual lawyer's name appears is submitted to the court for filing and opens a new case. All such fees shall be forwarded to the administrator of the Lengthy Trial Fund for deposit.
(c) The administrator shall use the fees deposited in the Lengthy Trial Fund to pay full or partial wage replacement or supplementation to jurors whose employers pay less than full regular wages when the period of jury service lasts more than ten (10) days.
(d) The court may pay replacement or supplemental wages of up to Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) per day per juror beginning on the eleventh day of jury service. In addition, for any jurors who qualify for payment by virtue of having served on a jury for more than ten (10) days, the court may, upon finding that such service posed a significant financial hardship to a juror, even in light of payments made with respect to jury service after the tenth day, award replacement or supplemental wages of up to One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per day from the fourth to the tenth day of jury service.
(e) Any juror who is serving or has served on a jury that qualifies for payment from the Lengthy Trial Fund, provided the service commenced on or after the effective date of House Bill No. ____, 2004 Regular Session, may submit a request for payment from the Lengthy Trial Fund on a form that the administrator provides. Payment shall be limited to the difference between the state-paid jury fee and the actual amount of wages a juror earns, up to the maximum level payable, minus any amount the juror actually receives from the employer during the same time period.
(i) The form shall disclose the juror's regular wages, the amount the employer will pay during the term of jury service starting on the eleventh day and thereafter, the amount of replacement or supplemental wages requested, and any other information the administrator deems necessary for proper payment.
(ii) The juror also shall be required to submit verification from the employer as to the wage information provided to the administrator, for example, the employee's most recent earnings statement or similar document, prior to initiation of payment from the fund.
(iii) If an individual is self-employed or receives compensation other than wages, the individual may provide a sworn affidavit attesting to his or her approximate gross weekly income, together with such other information as the administrator may require, in order to verify weekly income.
(f) The following attorneys and causes of action are exempt from payment of the Lengthy Trial Fund fee:
(i) Government attorneys entering appearances in the course of their official duties;
(ii) Pro se litigants;
(iii) Cases in justice court; or
(iv) Claims seeking social security disability determinations; individual veterans' compensation or disability determinations; recoupment actions for government-backed educational loans or mortgages; child custody and support cases; actions brought in forma pauperis; and any other filings designated by rule that involve minimal use of court resources and that customarily are not afforded the opportunity for a trial by jury.
SECTION 9. Section 33-1-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
33-1-5. Any member of the Mississippi National Guard on active duty shall be exempt from jury duty upon presenting a current written statement from his superior officer that such jury service will be likely to interfere with his military duties.
SECTION 10. Section 41-17-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the exemption from jury service of state insane hospital personnel, is repealed.
SECTION 11. Section 47-5-55, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for the exemption from jury service of state correctional system employees and officers, is repealed.
SECTION 12. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.