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Right to Trial by Jury, RPPL 8-12 2010


RPPL No. 8-12

First Regular- Session, January 2009 (Re: as Senate Bill No. 8-31, SD6, HD1)


To provide for jury trials for defendants accused of crimes punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of 12 years or more, and for other related purposes.


Section 1. Definitions.
In this Act:

(a) "Challenge for cause" is an objection to a prospective juror based on any of the following grounds:

(1) The prospective juror does not have the qualifications for jury service required by this Act.

(2) The prospective juror is related by blood or marriage within the second degree to:

(A) the defendant;

(B) the alleged victim of the offense charged;

(C) the person on whose complaint the prosecution was commenced; or

(D) a prospective witness or any attorney representing a party in the action.

(3) The prospective juror bears some other relationship to any such person of such nature that it is likely to preclude him from being a fair and impartial juror.

(4) The prospective juror previously served on a jury that heard evidence concerning the offense charged.

(5) The prospective juror has a state of mind that will preclude him from being a fair and impartial juror.

(b) "Juror master list" means the voter registration lists that shall be supplemented with names from other sources prescribed pursuant to this Act.

(c) "Peremptory challenge" is an objection to the seating of a prospective juror for which no reason needs to be given. Either the defendant or the prosecuting attorney may make such an objection, and may do so orally.

(d) "Qualified juror" means a person who:

(1) is of 21 years of age or older;

(2) has not been convicted of a felony within the past five years and is not currently incarcerated; and

(3) can read and understand both the Palauan and English languages.

Section 2. Right to a trial by jury.
(a) A criminal defendant accused of a crime punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of 12 years or more shall have the right to a trial by jury.

(b) If the defendant is entitled to a jury trial, then the trial shall be by jury unless the defendant waives the right to a jury trial in writing.

Section 3. Jury size; unanimity required.
(a) Juries shall be comprised of six members.

(b) A unanimous verdict shall be required for a defendant to be found guilty, provided that if a juror becomes ill or absent during deliberations, a unanimous verdict of less than six jurors may be allowed if:

(1) the defense and prosecution both stipulate to a verdict from a jury with fewer members; or

(2) the court on its own motion excuses the juror and orders a verdict from the remaining members of the jury. The court may exercise its authority under this subdivision only if after excusing the jurors no fewer than four jurors remain on the jury.

Section 4. Exempt jurors.
(a) The following otherwise qualified jurors shall be exempt from jury service:

(1) Those who are out of the Republic to attend school.

(2) Those who are domiciled in another jurisdiction with no intent to return to Palau.

(3) Those who are members of the armed forces who are on active duty or out of the Republic.

(4) Those who hold elected office in the Republic of Palau.

(b) An otherwise qualified juror exempted from service for a reason specified in subsection (a) of this section shall have his or her name struck from the juror master list until the reason for his or her exemption ends.

(c) The court may exempt an otherwise qualified juror for cause. However, a juror shall not be exempted for a slight or trivial cause, but only when it appears that jury duty would entail a serious personal hardship or that for other good cause he should be excused either temporarily or otherwise.

Section 5. Jurors to receive annual leave; protection of jurors' employment; juror fees.
(a) An employer shall not deprive an employee of his or her employment, or threaten or otherwise coerce him with respect to that employment, because the employee receives a summons for jury duty, responds to that summons, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service.

(b) Government employees who attend court for prospective jury service or who are selected for jury service shall receive one day of annual leave for each day they are at the court in connection with that service.

(c) The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules and regulations to provide for juror fees for those qualified jurors who are unemployed, retired, or otherwise not provided for in subsection (b) of this section, who attend court in connection with jury service.

Section 6. Examination of jurors. The court may permit the attorneys for the parties to examine prospective jurors, or the court may itself do so. In the latter event, the court may permit the defendant and the prosecuting attorney to supplement the examination by such further inquiry as the court deems proper, or shall itself submit to the prospective jurors such additional questions by the parties, as it deems proper.

Section 7. Peremptory challenges; Challenges for cause.
(a) The government has four peremptory challenges and the defendant or defendants jointly have six peremptory challenges. Upon objection the court shall discharge the prospective juror. If there is more than one defendant, the court may allow the defendants additional peremptory challenges and permit them to be exercised separately or jointly.

(b) A challenge for cause may be taken by any party. If the court finds that grounds exist that support a challenge for cause against a prospective juror, it shall discharge such juror.

Section 8. Order of challenge; Jury sworn.
(a) The court shall have the authority to direct the order in which challenges are to be taken, both as to the type of challenge and the party making the challenge.

(b) After both the defendant and the prosecuting attorney have completed their challenges to the prospective jurors, the jury shall be sworn.

Section 9. Alternate jurors.
(a) In general, the court may impanel up to two alternate jurors to replace any jurors who are unable to perform or who are disqualified from performing their duties.

(b) Procedure:

(1) Alternate jurors shall have the same qualifications and be selected and sworn in the same manner as any other juror.

(2) Alternate jurors replace jurors in the same sequence in which the alternates were selected. An alternate juror who replaces a juror has the same authority as the other jurors.

(c) The court may retain alternate jurors after the, jury retires to deliberate. The court must ensure that a retained alternate does not discuss the case with anyone until that alternate replaces a juror or is discharged. If an alternate replaces a juror after deliberations have begun, the court must instruct the jury to begin its deliberations anew.

(d) The court may decide the number of additional peremptory challenges to prospective alternate jurors to which each side may be entitled.

Section 10. Juror master list.
(a) The Clerk of Courts shall compile a juror master list. The master list shall consist of the voter registration list for the Republic of Palau, which may be supplemented with names from other lists of resident persons, such as lists of utility customers or licensed drivers, which the court from time to time may designate. No person who is not a qualified juror, or is an exempt juror pursuant to Section 4 of this Act, shall be included on the list. Additionally, any person whose name does not appear on any list used in the compilation of the juror master list may request the clerk to place his name on the master list, and the clerk shall comply with such request if the clerk finds the person to be a qualified juror.

(b) Whoever has custody, possession, or control of any list that is to be used in compiling the master list, shall make the list available to the clerk for inspection, reproduction, and copying at all reasonable times.

(c) Whoever has custody, possession or control of any list that is to be used in compiling the master list shall update the list, or cause it to be updated, on at least an annual basis.

(d) The court may issue subpoenas to those who have been selected from the master list to appear in court for jury service.

Section 11. Rules and Regulations. The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules and regulations to implement this Act.

Section 12. Effective date. This Act shall take effect upon its approval by the President, or upon becoming law without such approval.

PASSED: December 29, 2009
Approved this 8th day of January , 2010.

Johnson Toribiong
Republic of Palau

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