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Article 270 - NY Criminal Procedure Law

JURY TRIAL--FORMATION AND CONDUCT OF JURY

Section Description
270.05Trial jury; formation in general.
270.10Trial jury; challenge to the panel.
270.15Trial jury; examination of prospective jurors; challenges generally.
270.16Capital cases; individual questioning for racial bias.
270.20Trial jury; challenge for cause of an individual juror.
270.25Trial jury; peremptory challenge of an individual juror.
270.30Trial jury; alternate jurors.
270.35Trial jury; discharge of juror; replacement by alternate juror.
270.40Trial jury; preliminary instructions by court.
270.45Trial jury; when separation permitted.
270.50Trial jury; viewing of premises.
270.55Sentencing jury in capital cases.
 S 270.05 Trial jury; formation in general.
  1.  A trial jury consists of twelve jurors, but "alternate jurors" may
be selected and sworn pursuant to section 270.30.
  2.  The panel from which the jury is drawn is formed and selected as
prescribed in the judiciary law.  The first twelve members of the panel
returned for the term who appear as their names are drawn and called,
and who are not excluded as prescribed by this article, must be sworn
and thereupon constitute the trial jury.

S 270.10 Trial jury; challenge to the panel.
  1.  A challenge to the panel is an objection made to the entire panel
of prospective trial jurors returned for the term and may be taken to
such panel or to any additional panel that may be ordered by the court.
Such a challenge may be made only by the defendant and only on the
ground that there has been such a departure from the requirements of the
judiciary law in the drawing or return of the panel as to result in
substantial prejudice to the defendant.
  2.  A challenge to the panel must be made before the selection of the
jury commences, and, if it is not, such challenge is deemed to have been
waived.  Such challenge must be made in writing setting forth the facts
constituting the ground of challenge.  If such facts are denied by the
people, witnesses may be called and examined by either party.  All
issues of fact and law arising on the challenge must be tried and
determined by the court.  If a challenge to the panel is allowed, the
court must discharge that panel and order another panel of prospective
trial jurors returned for the term.

S 270.15 Trial jury;examination of prospective jurors; challenges generally.
  1. (a) If no challenge to the panel is made as prescribed by section
270.10, or if such challenge is made and disallowed, the court shall
direct that the names of not less than twelve members of the panel be
drawn and called as prescribed by the judiciary law. Such persons shall
take their places in the jury box and shall be immediately sworn to
answer truthfully questions asked them relative to their qualifications
to serve as jurors in the action. In its discretion, the court may
require prospective jurors to complete a questionnaire concerning their
ability to serve as fair and impartial jurors, including but not limited
to place of birth, current address, education, occupation, prior jury
service, knowledge of, relationship to, or contact with the court, any
party, witness or attorney in the action and any other fact relevant to
his or her service on the jury. An official form for such questionnaire
shall be developed by the chief administrator of the courts in
consultation with the administrative board of the courts. A copy of
questionnaires completed by the members of the panel shall be given to
the court and each attorney prior to examination of prospective jurors.
  (b) The court shall initiate the examination of prospective jurors by
identifying the parties and their respective counsel and briefly
outlining the nature of case to all the prospective jurors. The court
shall then put to the members of the panel who have been sworn pursuant
to this subdivision and to any prospective jurors subsequently sworn,
questions affecting their qualifications to serve as jurors in the
action.
  (c) The court shall permit both parties, commencing with the people,
to examine the prospective jurors, individually or collectively,
regarding their qualifications to serve as jurors. Each party shall be
afforded a fair opportunity to question the prospective jurors as to any
unexplored matter affecting their qualifications, but the court shall
not permit questioning that is repetitious or irrelevant, or questions
as to a juror`s knowledge of rules of law. If necessary to prevent
improper questioning as to any matter, the court shall personally
examine the prospective jurors as to that matter. The scope of such
examination shall be within the discretion of the court. After the
parties have concluded their examinations of the prospective jurors, the
court may ask such further questions as it deems proper regarding the
qualifications of such prospective jurors.
  1-a. The court may for good cause shown, upon motion of either party
or any affected person or upon its own initiative, issue a protective
order for a stated period regulating disclosure of the business or
residential address of any prospective or sworn juror to any person or
persons, other than to counsel for either party. Such good cause shall
exist where the court determines that there is a likelihood of bribery,
jury tampering or of physical injury or harassment of the juror.
  2.  Upon the completion of such examination by both parties, each,
commencing with the people, may challenge a prospective juror for cause,
as prescribed by section 270.20.  If such challenge is allowed, the
prospective juror must be excluded from service.  After both parties
have had an opportunity to challenge for cause, the court must permit
them to peremptorily challenge any remaining prospective juror, as
prescribed by section 270.25, and such juror must be excluded from
service.  The people must exercise their peremptory challenges first and
may not, after the defendant has exercised his peremptory challenges,
make such a challenge to any remaining prospective juror who is then in
the jury box. If either party so requests, challenges for cause must be
made and determined, and peremptory challenges must be made, within the
courtroom but outside of the hearing of the prospective jurors in such
manner as not to disclose which party made the challenge. The
prospective jurors who are not excluded from service must retain their
place in the jury box and must be immediately sworn as trial jurors.
They must be sworn to try the action in a just and impartial manner, to
the best of their judgment, and to render a verdict according to the law
and the evidence.
  3.  The court may thereupon direct that the persons excluded be
replaced in the jury box by an equal number from the panel or, in its
discretion, direct that all sworn jurors be removed from the jury box
and that the jury box be occupied by such additional number of persons
from the panel as the court shall direct.  In the court`s discretion,
sworn jurors who are removed from the jury box as provided herein may be
seated elsewhere in the courtroom separate and apart from the unsworn
members of the panel or may be removed to the jury room or be allowed to
leave the courthouse.  The process of jury selection as prescribed
herein shall continue until twelve persons are selected and sworn as
trial jurors.  The juror whose name was first drawn and called must be
designated by the court as the foreperson, and no special oath need be
administered to him or her.  If before twelve jurors are sworn, a juror
already sworn becomes unable to serve by reason of illness or other
incapacity, the court must discharge him or her and the selection of the
trial jury must be completed in the manner prescribed in this section.
  4.  A challenge for cause of a prospective juror which is not made
before he is sworn as a trial juror shall be deemed to have been waived,
except that such a challenge based upon a ground not known to the
challenging party at that time may be made at any time before a witness
is sworn at the trial.  If such challenge is allowed by the court, the
juror shall be discharged and the selection of the trial jury shall be
completed in the manner prescribed in this section, except that if
alternate jurors have been sworn, the alternate juror whose name was
first drawn and called shall take the place of the juror so discharged.

S 270.16 Capital cases; individual questioning for racial bias.
  1. In any case in which the crime charged may be punishable by death,
the court shall, upon motion of either party, permit the parties,
commencing with the people, to examine the prospective jurors
individually and outside the presence of the other prospective jurors
regarding their qualifications to serve as jurors. Each party shall be
afforded a fair opportunity to question a prospective juror as to any
unexplored matter affecting his or her qualifications, including without
limitation the possibility of racial bias on the part of the prospective
juror, but the court shall not permit questioning that is repetitious or
irrelevant, or questions as to a prospective juror`s knowledge of rules
of law. If necessary to prevent improper questioning as to any matter,
the court shall personally examine the prospective jurors as to that
matter. The scope of such examination shall be within the discretion of
the court. After the parties have concluded their examinations of a
prospective juror, the court may ask such further questions as it deems
proper regarding the qualifications of the prospective juror.
  2.  The proceedings provided for in this section shall be conducted on
the record; provided, however, that upon motion of either party, and for
good cause shown, the court may direct that all or a portion of the
record of such proceedings be sealed.

S 270.20 Trial jury; challenge for cause of an individual juror.
  1.  A challenge for cause is an objection to a prospective juror and
may be made only on the ground that:
  (a)  He does not have the qualifications required by the judiciary
law; or
  (b)  He has a state of mind that is likely to preclude him from
rendering an impartial verdict based upon the evidence adduced at the
trial; or
  (c)  He is related within the sixth degree by consanguinity or
affinity to the defendant, or to the person allegedly injured by the
crime charged, or to a prospective witness at the trial, or to counsel
for the people or for the defendant; or that he is or was a party
adverse to any such person in a civil action; or that he has complained
against or been accused by any such person in a criminal action; or that
he bears some other relationship to any such person of such nature that
it is likely to preclude him from rendering an impartial verdict; or
  (d)  He was a witness at the preliminary examination or before the
grand jury or is to be a witness at the trial; or
  (e)  He served on the grand jury which found the indictment in issue
or served on a trial jury in a prior civil or criminal action involving
the same incident charged in such indictment; or
  (f) The crime charged may be punishable by death and the prospective
juror entertains such conscientious opinions either against or in favor
of such punishment as to preclude such juror from rendering an impartial
verdict or from properly exercising the discretion conferred upon such
juror by law in the determination of a sentence pursuant to section
400.27.
  2.  All issues of fact or law arising on the challenge must be tried
and determined by the court.  If the challenge is allowed, the court
must exclude the person challenged from service.  An erroneous ruling by
the court allowing a challenge for cause by the people does not
constitute reversible error unless the people have exhausted their
peremptory challenges at the time or exhaust them before the selection
of the jury is complete.  An erroneous ruling by the court denying a
challenge for cause by the defendant does not constitute reversible
error unless the defendant has exhausted his peremptory challenges at
the time or, if he has not, he peremptorily challenges such prospective
juror and his peremptory challenges are exhausted before the selection
of the jury is complete.

S 270.25 Trial jury; peremptory challenge of an individual juror.
  1.  A peremptory challenge is an objection to a prospective juror for
which no reason need be assigned.  Upon any peremptory challenge, the
court must exclude the person challenged from service.
  2.  Each party must be allowed the following number of peremptory
challenges:
  (a)  Twenty for the regular jurors if the highest crime charged is a
class A felony, and two for each alternate juror to be selected.
  (b)  Fifteen for the regular jurors if the highest crime charged is a
class B or class C felony, and two for each alternate juror to be
selected.
  (c)  Ten for the regular jurors in all other cases, and two for each
alternate juror to be selected.
  3.  When two or more defendants are tried jointly, the number of
peremptory challenges prescribed in subdivision two is not multiplied by
the number of defendants, but such defendants are to be treated as a
single party.  In any such case, a peremptory challenge by one or more
defendants must be allowed if a majority of the defendants join in such
challenge.  Otherwise, it must be disallowed.

S 270.30 Trial jury; alternate jurors.
  1.  Immediately after the last trial juror is sworn, the court may in
its discretion direct the selection of one or more, but not more than
six additional jurors to be known as "alternate jurors", except that, in
a prosecution under section 125.27 of the penal law, the court may, in
its discretion, direct the selection of as many alternate jurors as the
court determines to be appropriate.  Alternate jurors must be drawn in
the same manner, must have the same qualifications, must be subject to
the same examination and challenges for cause and must take the same
oath as the regular jurors. After the jury has retired to deliberate,
the court must either (1) with the consent of the defendant and the
people, discharge the alternate jurors or (2) direct the alternate
jurors not to discuss the case and must further direct that they be kept
separate and apart from the regular jurors.
  2. In any prosecution in which the people seek a sentence of death,
the court shall not discharge the alternate jurors when the jury retires
to deliberate upon its verdict and the alternate jurors, in the
discretion of the court, may be continuously kept together under the
supervision of an appropriate public servant or servants until such time
as the jury returns its verdict. If the jury returns a verdict of guilty
to a charge for which the death penalty may be imposed, the alternate
jurors shall not be discharged and shall remain available for service
during any separate sentencing proceeding which may be conducted
pursuant to section 400.27.

S 270.35 Trial jury; discharge of juror; replacement by alternate juror.
  1. If at any time after the trial jury has been sworn and before the
rendition of its verdict, a juror is unable to continue serving by
reason of illness or other incapacity, or for any other reason is
unavailable for continued service, or the court finds, from facts
unknown at the time of the selection of the jury, that a juror is
grossly unqualified to serve in the case or has engaged in misconduct of
a substantial nature, but not warranting the declaration of a mistrial,
the court must discharge such juror. If an alternate juror or jurors are
available for service, the court must order that the discharged juror be
replaced by the alternate juror whose name was first drawn and called,
provided, however, that if the trial jury has begun its deliberations,
the defendant must consent to such replacement. Such consent must be in
writing and must be signed by the defendant in person in open court in
the presence of the court. If the discharged juror was the foreperson,
the court shall designate as the new foreperson the juror whose name was
second drawn and called. If no alternate juror is available, the court
must declare a mistrial pursuant to subdivision three of section 280.10.
  2. (a) In determining pursuant to this section whether a juror is
unable to continue serving by reason of illness or other incapacity, or
is for any other reason unavailable for continued service, the court
shall make a reasonably thorough inquiry concerning such illness,
incapacity or unavailability, and shall attempt to ascertain when such
juror will be appearing in court. If such juror fails to appear, or if
the court determines that there is no reasonable likelihood such juror
will be appearing, in court within two hours of the time set by the
court for the trial to resume, the court may presume such juror is
unavailable for continued service and may discharge such juror. Nothing
contained in this paragraph shall affect the court`s discretion, under
this or any other provision of law, to discharge a juror who repeatedly
fails to appear in court in a timely fashion.
  (b) The court shall afford the parties an opportunity to be heard
before discharging a juror. If the court discharges a juror pursuant to
this subdivision, it shall place on the record the facts and reasons for
its determination that such juror is ill, incapacitated or unavailable
for continued service.
  (c) Nothing contained in this subdivision shall affect the
requirements of subdivision one of this section pertaining to the
discharge of a juror where the trial jury has begun its deliberations.

S 270.40 Trial jury; preliminary instructions by court.
  After the jury has been sworn and before the people`s opening address,
the court must instruct the jury generally concerning its basic
functions, duties and conduct.  Such instructions must include, among
other matters, admonitions that the jurors may not converse among
themselves or with anyone else upon any subject connected with the
trial; that they may not read or listen to any accounts or discussions
of the case reported by newspapers or other news media; that they may
not visit or view the premises or place where the offense or offenses
charged were allegedly committed or any other premises or place involved
in the case; that prior to discharge, they may not request, accept,
agree to accept, or discuss with any person receiving or accepting, any
payment or benefit in consideration for supplying any information
concerning the trial; and that they must promptly report to the court
any incident within their knowledge involving an attempt by any person
improperly to influence any member of the jury.

S 270.45 Trial jury; when separation permitted.
  During the period extending from the time the jurors are sworn to the
time they retire to deliberate upon their verdict, the court may in its
discretion either permit them to separate during recesses and
adjournments or direct that they be continuously kept together during
such periods under the supervision of an appropriate public servant or
servants.  In the latter case, such public servant or servants may not
speak to or communicate with any juror concerning any subject connected
with the trial nor permit any other person to do so, and must return the
jury to the court room at the next designated trial session.

S 270.50 Trial jury; viewing of premises.
  1.  When the court is of the opinion that a viewing or observation by
the jury of the premises or place where an offense on trial was
allegedly committed, or of any other premises or place involved in the
case, will be helpful to the jury in determining any material factual
issue, it may in its discretion, at any time before the commencement of
the summations, order that the jury be conducted to such premises or
place for such purpose in accordance with the provisions of this
section.
  2.  In such case, the jury must be kept together throughout under the
supervision of an appropriate public servant or servants appointed by
the court, and the court itself must be present throughout.  The
prosecutor, the defendant and counsel for the defendant may as a matter
of right be present throughout, but such right may be waived.
  3.  The purpose of such an inspection is solely to permit visual
observation by the jury of the premises or place in question, and
neither the court, the parties, counsel nor the jurors may engage in
discussion or argumentation concerning the significance or implications
of anything under observation or concerning any issue in the case.

S 270.55 Sentencing jury in capital cases.
  During the period extending from when a jury returns a verdict of
guilty upon a count of an indictment charging murder in the first degree
as defined by section 125.27 of the penal law until a jury retires to
deliberate on the sentence pursuant to section 400.27, the court may in
its discretion either permit the jurors to separate during recesses and
adjournments or direct that they be continuously kept together during
such periods under the supervision of an appropriate public servant or
servants. In the latter case, such public servant or servants may not
speak to or communicate with any juror concerning any subject connected
with the sentencing proceeding nor permit any other person to do so, and
must return the jury to the court room at the next designated session.
Unless otherwise provided for in section 400.27, the provisions of
sections 270.35, 270.40 and 270.50 shall govern the sentencing
proceeding provided for in section 400.27.

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