Rule 48 – Number of jurors; verdict; polling

(a) Number of Jurors. A jury must begin with at least 6 and no more than 12 members, and each juror must participate in the verdict unless excused under Rule 47(c).

(b) Verdict. Unless the parties stipulate otherwise, the verdict must be unanimous and must be returned by a jury of at least 6 members.

(c) Polling. After a verdict is returned but before the jury is discharged, the court must on a party’s request, or may on its own, poll the jurors individually. If the poll reveals a lack of unanimity or lack of assent by the number of jurors that the parties stipulated to, the court may direct the jury to deliberate further or may order a new trial.

Selected Committee Notes 

The former rule was rendered obsolete by the adoption in many districts of local rules establishing six as the standard size for a civil jury.

It appears that the minimum size of a jury consistent with the Seventh Amendment is six. Cf. Ballew v. Georgia, 435 U.S. 223 (1978) (holding that a conviction based on a jury of less than six is a denial of due process of law). If the parties agree to trial before a smaller jury, a verdict can be taken, but the parties should not other than in exceptional circumstances be encouraged to waive the right to a jury of six, not only because of the constitutional stature of the right, but also because smaller juries are more erratic and less effective in serving to distribute responsibility for the exercise of judicial power.
Because the institution of the alternate juror has been abolished by the proposed revision of Rule 47, it will ordinarily be prudent and necessary, in order to provide for sickness or disability among jurors, to seat more than six jurors. The use of jurors in excess of six increases the representativeness of the jury and harms no interest of a party. Ray v. Parkside Surgery Center, 13 F.R. Serv. 585 (6th cir. 1989).

If the court takes the precaution of seating a jury larger than six, an illness occurring during the deliberation period will not result in a mistrial, as it did formerly, because all seated jurors will participate in the verdict and a sufficient number will remain to render a unanimous verdict of six or more.

In exceptional circumstances, as where a jury suffers depletions during trial and deliberation that are greater than can reasonably be expected, the parties may agree to be bound by a verdict rendered by fewer than six jurors. The court should not, however, rely upon the availability of such an agreement, for the use of juries smaller than six is problematic for reasons fully explained in Ballew v. Georgia, supra.

Key Civ Pro Laws (MBE/MEE)

Constitutional Provisions

U.S. Code

FRCP

  • Rule 3 – Commencing an action
  • Rule 4 – Summons
  • Rule 6 – Computing and extending time
  • Rule 7 – Pleadings allowed
  • Rule 8 – General pleading rules
  • Rule 9 – Pleading special matters
  • Rule 11 – Signing pleadings, motions, and other papers
  • Rule 12 – Defenses and objections
  • Rule 13 – Counterclaim and crossclaim
  • Rule 14 – Third-party practice
  • Rule 15 – Amended and supplemental pleadings
  • Rule 16 – Pretrial conferences, scheduling, management
  • Rule 19 – Required joinder of parties
  • Rule 20 – Permissive joinder of parties
  • Rule 22 – Interpleader
  • Rule 23 – Class actions
  • Rule 24 – Intervention
  • Rule 26 – Duty to disclose
  • Rule 30 – Depositions by oral examination
  • Rule 31 – Depositions by written questions
  • Rule 33 – Interrogatories
  • Rule 34 – Producing documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things
  • Rule 35 – Physical and mental examinations
  • Rule 36 – Requests for admission
  • Rule 37 – Failure to make disclosures or to cooperate in discovery
  • Rule 38 – Right to a jury trial
  • Rule 41 – Dismissal of actions
  • Rule 42 – Consolidation; separate trials
  • Rule 45 – Subpoena
  • Rule 47 – Selecting jurors
  • Rule 48 – Number of jurors; verdict; polling
  • Rule 49 – Special verdict; general verdict and questions
  • Rule 50 – Judgment as a matter of law in a jury trial
  • Rule 51 – Instructions to the jury; objections; preserving a claim of error
  • Rule 52 – Findings and conclusions by the court; judgment on partial findings
  • Rule 55 – Default; default judgment
  • Rule 56 – Summary judgment
  • Rule 59 – New trial; altering or amending a judgment
  • Rule 60 – Relief from a judgment or order
  • Rule 65 – Injunctions and restraining orders

FRAP

  • Rule 4 – Appeal as of right