9-6. Jury service a public duty; excuses to be allowed in exceptional cases; procedure.

(a) The General Assembly hereby declares the public policy of this State to be that jury service is the solemn obligation of all qualified citizens, and that excuses from the discharge of this responsibility should be granted only for reasons of compelling personal hardship or because requiring service would be contrary to the public welfare, health, or safety.

(b) Pursuant to the foregoing policy, each chief district court judge shall promulgate procedures whereby the chief district court judge or any district court judge of the chief district court judge's district court district designated by the chief district court judge, prior to the date that a jury session (or sessions) of superior or district court convenes, shall receive, hear, and pass on applications for excuses from jury duty. The procedures shall provide for the time and place, publicly announced, at which applications for excuses will be heard, and prospective jurors who have been summoned for service shall be so informed. The chief district judge may assign the duty of passing on applications for excuses from jury service to judicial support staff. In all cases concerning excuses, the clerk of court or judicial support staff shall notify prospective jurors of the disposition of their excuses.

(b1) A prospective juror who is summoned for jury service in a session of court scheduled during a period of time when the prospective juror is taking classes or exams as a full-time student enrolled at an out-of-state postsecondary public or private educational institution, including any out-of-state trade or professional institution, college, or university, shall be excused from jury service upon request made pursuant to G.S. 9-6.1(a) and supported by documentation showing enrollment at the out-of-state educational institution.

(c) A prospective juror excused by a judge in the exercise of the discretion conferred by subsection (b) of this section or excused pursuant to subsection (b1) of this section may be required by the judge to serve as a juror in a subsequent session of court. If required to serve subsequently, the juror shall be considered on such occasion the same as if he were a member of the panel regularly summoned for jury service at that time.

(d) A judge hearing applications for excuses from jury duty shall excuse any person disqualified under 9-3.

(e) The judge shall inform the clerk of superior court of persons excused under this section, and the clerk shall keep a record of excuses separate from the master jury list.

(f) The discretionary authority of a presiding judge to excuse a juror at the beginning of or during a session of court is not affected by this section. (1967, c. 218, s. 1; 1969, c. 205, ss. 4, 5; 1971, c. 377, s. 30; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1207, s. 1; 1981, c. 430, s. 2; 1985, c. 609, s. 2; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 47; 2012-180, s. 6; 2015-210, s. 2; 2022-47, s. 10(a).)