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TO AMEND SECTION 14-7-1050, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO JURY VOIR DIRE, SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR ATTORNEY CONDUCTED JURY VOIR DIRE BY ORAL AND DIRECT QUESTIONING; TO AMEND SECTION 14-7-1060, RELATING TO THE DRAWING OF A JURY PANEL, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE NUMBER OF JURORS TO BE DRAWN IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE TRIAL JUDGE; AND TO AMEND SECTION 14-7-1080, RELATING TO THE DRAWING OF A SECOND JURY PANEL, SO AS TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE PANEL MUST BE MADE UP OF TWENTY JURORS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 14-7-1050 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
In the trial of all actions at law in the courts of common pleas and issues ordered to be framed by the judge in equity cases in the courts, the clerk in the manner provided by Section 14-7-1060 shall furnish the parties or their attorneys with a list of twenty jurors from the whole number of jurors who are in attendance, the names on the list to be numbered from one to twenty, and be stricken off by numbers in the same manner as the regular panels of jurors in those courts have been formed. From this list the parties or their attorneys shall alternatively strike, until there are but twelve left, which shall constitute the jury to try the case or issue. In all cases the plaintiff shall have the first strike and in all civil cases any party shall have the right to demand a panel of twenty competent and impartial jurors from which to strike a jury. (A) In the trial of all actions in the courts of common pleas and issues ordered to be framed by the judge in equity cases in the courts, the parties have the right to conduct voir dire, by oral and direct questioning, of the jury panel from which the trial jury is to be selected. The voir dire must be conducted after the administration of a preliminary oath, the swearing in of the jury panel, and a short, non-argumentative statement of the case by the trial judge.
(B)(1) The scope of the voir dire is within the limits set forth by the trial judge.
(2) The purpose of the voir dire is to discover any inclinations, leanings, or bias which the jurors might have with regard to the circumstances of the case.
(C) Upon motion, by either party, to propose oral and direct voir dire questions to a jury panel, the parties shall prepare their proposed questions in writing and exchange the questions at least five days before the selection of the trial jury. Any objections to the voir dire questions must be ruled upon by the trial judge who shall give final approval of the questions. Each party is allotted at least thirty minutes to ask questions. If there is more than one plaintiff or one defendant with divergent interests between the plaintiff parties or defendant parties, the trial judge shall allocate an even amount of time between the parties to voir dire the jury panel. Upon motion, by either party, the time limit may be extended by the judge after consideration of the amount of time requested by the moving party, the length of the trial, the number of parties, the number of witnesses, and any unique or complex legal or factual issues.
(D) After swearing in of the jury venire, a list of jurors, the number of which will be determined by the trial judge, will be prepared to participate in voir dire. Attorneys for the plaintiff shall begin voir dire by asking their approved
(E) The following questions are prohibited:
(1) Questions that seek to commit a juror to a result, including, but not limited to, questions about what evidence would cause the juror to find for one party over the other party;
(2) Questions about the juror's political views, voting patterns, or political party preferences;
(3) Questions about the juror's religious beliefs or religious affiliations;
(4) Questions that have no purpose other than to argue a party's case or to persuade the juror to find for one party over the other party; and
(5) Questions about the outcome of previous trials on which the person served as a juror, including, but not limited to, the vote of the juror or the verdict of the jury.
(F) After voir dire by all parties, the trial judge shall hear, outside of the presence of the jury, any challenges for cause as to any juror.
(G) After any challenges for cause have been ruled upon, the parties shall exercise peremptory challenges for the jurors remaining on the list. The plaintiff shall proceed first with a peremptory challenge, followed by the defendant, and the plaintiff and defendant shall alternate challenges until all challenges have been exhausted. After the parties have used all of their peremptory challenges, the remaining jurors will be impaneled and sworn as the trial jury."
SECTION 2. Section 14-7-1060 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 14-7-1060. If a computer is not used for the drawing of jurors pursuant to the provisions of Section 14-7-140, the clerk shall write or cause the names of the jurors in attendance to be written, each on a separate paper or ballot which must be white and plain, which must resemble each other as much as possible, and which must be so folded that the name written thereon is not visible on the outside. The clerk shall place each of the ballots or separate papers in a separate, small opaque capsule or container, which must be as uniform in size, shape, and color as possible at the time of original purchase or repurchase of the capsules or containers. Whenever a jury panel
of twenty is to be drawn, these capsules or containers must be placed in a small rotating drum, cylindrical in shape, having a handle at the end thereof and resting on such supports that it can be turned by means of the handle, the drum, capsules, and other equipment to be furnished by the jury commissioners and approved by the resident judge. When the containers or capsules have been placed in the drum, it must be completely closed and securely fastened and rotated by means of the handle for a sufficient length of time necessary for a complete mixing of the containers or capsules and the required number of jurors, the number of which will be determined by the trial judge, must then be drawn, one by one, by a responsible and impartial person designated by the clerk of court, with the approval of the presiding judge. The names of the jurors so drawn must be returned to the capsules and replaced in the drum when the jurors are no longer actually engaged in service on a trial jury."
SECTION 3. Section 14-7-1080 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 14-7-1080 Should the jury charged with any case be delayed in rendering its verdict so that it could not be present to be drawn from in making the list to form a second jury, then the clerk shall present to the parties or their attorneys a list containing the names of
twenty jurors to be drawn by the clerk from the remaining jurors in the manner provided in Section 14-7-1050, from which list the parties or their attorneys shall alternately strike, as provided in Section 14-7-1050 until twelve are left who shall constitute the jury."
SECTION 4. This act takes effect January 1, 2021.
This web page was last updated on January 14, 2020 at 1:09 PM