Florida Supreme Court Revises Standard Juror Questionnaire

April 24, 2017

Earlier this year the Florida Supreme Court approved changes to the standard Juror Questionnaire, Form 1.983. There are currently only two standard juror questionnaires approved for use in civil trials by the Florida Supreme Court – Form 1.983 and Form 1.984.  Form 1.983 is entitled “Prospective Juror Questionnaire” and Form 1.984 is entitled “Jury Voir Dire Questionnaire.” Form 1.984 is a shorter questionnaire intended to be sent to prospective jurors prior to attending jury service.  In fact, the shorter questionnaire itself states the jurors are to fill out the questionnaire and return it in the self-addressed, stamped envelope, within two days of receipt.

In February of this year, the FSC approved changes to the longer questionnaire, Form 1.983, which is designed to be used in court during the jury selection process in civil trials. In Re:  Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure – Form 1.983 (Prospective Juror Questionnaire), No. SC16-996 (Fla. February 23, 2017). There are three main areas the Court focused on when adopting the changes.  First, the Court added a direction to the attorneys and pro se litigants to redact the birth month and date of the juror when filing the questionnaires with the court.  Interestingly, only this longer version of the questionnaire asks the jurors for their date of birth.  The shorter questionnaire which is intended to be sent ahead of jury service, does not require this information.  If you are in a jurisdiction which utilizes this shorter questionnaire, you should strongly consider asking the Court or the Clerk to include a question asking for date of birth, as this will greatly assist the parties in conducting background searches and litigation checks.

The second change to Form 1.983 pertains to question thirteen regarding expectant mothers and parents.  The Court adopted the proposed amendment which broadened the language from “mothers and expectant mothers” to “expectant mothers and parents” to mirror the language in Fla. Stat. §40.013(4) which discusses persons who are disqualified or excused from jury service.  Finally, the Court adopted a number of grammatical and stylistic changes to the questionnaire such as adding the word “the” and “(s)” in places, and at the very bottom of the questionnaire, clarified that the Clerk of Court, not the Sheriff, is the entity who summonses jurors for jury duty.