Vt. Juror Qualification R. 10

As amended through May 6, 2024
Rule 10 - Confidentiality of Jurors' Personal Information
(a)Access by the Public. The names of potential jurors and their towns of residence shall be disclosed to the public upon request. Further information related to potential jurors is excepted from public disclosure, in the absence of a finding of good cause for disclosure by the court. In assessing good cause, the court must weigh the public interest in the release of the information sought against any harm resulting from release.
(b)Access by the Parties.
(1)The parties and their attorneys shall have access to all information in juror questionnaires. However, where a court has excused an individual from service as a juror based on supplemental information provided as to whether the individual can meet the physical and mental demands of jury service, the parties and their attorneys shall not have access to such supplemental information. Except in preparation for, and in the conduct of, jury selection and the exercise of challenges, and to identify conflicts of interest, the parties and their attorneys must keep juror questionnaire information in confidence, and must not distribute, disclose, or publish the information. Disclosure may occur in such other aspects of any proceedings as authorized by the court.
(2) Copies of completed juror questionnaires and information contained therein shall be made available to the parties and their attorneys. The court may make such additional orders as appropriate to protect against unauthorized disclosure or distribution of copies provided, either to attorneys or self-represented parties.

Vt. Juror Qualification R. 10

Adopted Oct. 25, 2000, eff. 1/1/2001; amended May 24, 2011, eff. 6/1/2011; amended April 14, 2021, eff. 6/14/2021.

Reporter's Notes-2021 Amendment

Rule 10 is amended to reconcile its provisions related to disclosure of juror responses to qualification and service questionnaires with the provisions of the related rules governing disclosure of such information to parties in civil and criminal cases for purposes of the selection of jurors who will serve at trial. See V.R.C.P. 47(a) and V.R.Cr.P. 24(a). The amendment is contemporaneous with conforming amendment of those rules, as well as an exception in the Vermont Rules for Public Access to Court Records to preclude public access to the content of juror questionnaire responses, absent a finding of good cause given by a judge. See V.R.P.A.C.R. 6(b)(19).

As to access by parties and attorneys to juror questionnaire information, the present amendments to Rule 10 also clarify that access to supplemental information supplied to determine whether an individual meets the physical and mental demands for jury service (typically, privileged medical diagnosis and health-care information) is not permitted, unless an individual's request for excuse from service due to such conditions is denied, in which case access to that information must be provided to assure full and fair inquiry as to that potential juror's service in the given case. Party and attorney access to this supplemental information for excused jurors may otherwise be sought, and authorization for this additional access granted by the court, for case-specific good cause, consistent with V.R.P.A.C.R. 6(b)(19).

Pursuant to paragraph 10(b)(2) and new V.R.P.A.C.R. 6(b)(19), the limitations upon public access do not preclude attorneys and self-represented parties from referencing information in juror questionnaires in the course of the jury selection process and in the exercise of challenges since these aspects of the proceedings are historically publicly accessible, with limited exception. In any event, attorneys and parties (including their authorized associates necessarily involved in jury selection, such as a firm member, administrative staff, or a retained private investigator) have broad rights of access to all information in juror questionnaires consistent with these Rules, subject only to limited exception with respect to information submitted by or on behalf of potential jurors, which is generally privileged in nature, for persons who have been excused by the court from service based on an inability to meet mental or physical capability requirements. See 4 V.S.A. § 962(a)(4).

The amendments further clarify that copies of completed juror questionnaires are to be provided to attorneys and self-represented parties. As stated in these Rules, the court may enter protective orders to assure maintenance of confidentiality of the content. The prior versions of V.R.Cr.P. 24(a) and V.R.C.P. 47(a) barred all public access to juror questionnaire content in electronic form, while permitting some public access to content in nonelectronic (paper) form upon the requisite showing of good cause. General public access in any form is still barred under these 2021 amendments absent a finding of good cause, including added V.R.P.A.C.R. 6(b)(19), and in any event, public access to criminal case records via the Internet is barred by 12 V.S.A. § 5. Current practice is that nonelectronic copies of completed juror questionnaires are provided to counsel and parties under Rule 10, but policy questions are presented as to whether such information may be provided to counsel and parties in electronic form as well; whether the electronic versions of the completed questionnaires can be securely provided via the Odyssey case-management system or the Judiciary efiling portal; and what means exist to prevent unauthorized disclosure of any electronic version once transmitted to counsel or parties. Those issues are left to further development in light of the resumption of jury trials and continued implementation of electronic filing and the Odyssey case-management system.

Finally, in whatever format completed juror questionnaires are provided to attorneys and parties, they (and their authorized associates) may make and use duplicate copies thereof but only as necessary for purposes of jury selection, and always consistent with and subject to these Rules.