Qualifications and Disqualifications of Jurors
QUALIFICATIONS FOR JURORS: In Florida, the qualifications to be a juror are simple. Jurors must be U.S. Citizens at least 18 years of age who are legal residents of Florida and the county where the trial is being conducted, and they must have a drivers license or ID card. See Fla Stat 40.01.
DISQUALIFICATIONS: There are three types of “statutory” disqualifications set forth in the Florida Statutes and Rules of Procedure: 1) Mandatory Disqualification, 2) Excusal Upon the Juror’s Request, and 3) Excusal At the Judge’s Discretion.
1. Mandatory Disqualification: Biased Jurors – Any person who “has a state of mind regarding the defendant, the case, or the person alleged to have been injured … that will prevent the juror from acting with impartiality.” (913.03); Any person who “has formed or expressed any opinion or is sensible of any bias or prejudice concerning it.” (1.431); Any person “interested in any issue to be tried” in the action (40.013 & 1.431); Any person who is an employee or who has been an employee of any party within 30 days before trial (1.431); Any person under prosecution for any crime (40.013); Convicted felons or those convicted of bribery, forgery, perjury or larceny (unless rights restored) (40.013); Governor and his cabinet (40.013); Clerk of Court; Full time Law enforcement officers and investigators (unless they choose to serve)(40.013); Persons related by blood or marriage within the third degree to the plaintiff, defendant or the attorneys (913.03 & 1.431); Any person who does not possess sufficient knowledge of reading, writing or arithmetic to understand the case, if the case requires such knowledge (1.431)
2. Upon Request: Expectant mothers (40.013); Persons over 70 yrs old (40.013);Persons who are responsible for the care of someone who can’t take care of themselves (40.013); Any parent who is not employed full time and who has custody of a child under 6 yrs old(40.013); Persons who reported for jury duty in another case within the past one year are exempt (40.013) (this may also be mandatory grounds – see 1.431)
3. Judge’s Discretion: Attorneys and Physicians and the Infirm (40.013); Person may be excused upon showing of hardship, extreme inconvenience, or public necessity (40.013)
The inadvertant seating of a disqualfied juror is not automatic grounds for a new trial in all cases. See Companioni v. City of Tampa, 958 So. 2d 404 (Fla 2d DCA 2007), in which a verdict in a civil case was upheld notwithstanding the fact that there were two jurors on the panel who were convicted felons, and who had concealed their criminal records from the court.