Section 28: Examination of jurors
[ Text of section effective until May 10, 2016. Repealed by 2016, 36, Sec. 1.]
Section 28. Upon motion of either party, the court shall, or the parties or their attorneys may under the direction of the court, examine on oath a person who is called as a juror therein, to learn whether he is related to either party or has any interest in the case, or has expressed or formed an opinion, or is sensible of any bias or prejudice, therein; and the objecting party may introduce other competent evidence in support of the objection. If the court finds that the juror does not stand indifferent in the case, another shall be called in his stead. In a criminal case such examination shall include questions designed to learn whether such juror understands that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that the commonwealth has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the defendant need not present evidence in his behalf. If the court finds that such juror does not so understand, another shall be called in his stead.
For the purpose of determining whether a juror stands indifferent in the case, if it appears that, as a result of the impact of considerations which may cause a decision or decisions to be made in whole or in part upon issues extraneous to the case, including, but not limited to, community attitudes, possible exposure to potentially prejudicial material or possible preconceived opinions toward the credibility of certain classes of persons, the juror may not stand indifferent, the court shall, or the parties or their attorneys may, with the permission and under the direction of the court, examine the juror specifically with respect to such considerations, attitudes, exposure, opinions or any other matters which may, as aforesaid, cause a decision or decisions to be made in whole or in part upon issues extraneous to the issues in the case. Such examination may include a brief statement of the facts of the case, to the extent the facts are appropriate and relevant to the issue of such examination, and shall be conducted individually and outside the presence of other persons about to be called as jurors or already called.
Notwithstanding the above, the following procedures shall govern in all criminal and civil superior court jury trials:
(1) In addition to whatever jury voir dire of the jury venire is conducted by the court, the court shall permit, upon the request of any party's attorney or a self-represented party, the party's attorney or self-represented party to conduct an oral examination of the prospective jurors at the discretion of the court.
(2) The court may impose reasonable limitations upon the questions and the time allowed during such examination, including, but not limited to, requiring pre-approval of the questions.
(3) In criminal cases involving multiple defendants, the commonwealth shall be entitled to the same amount of time as that to which all defendants together are entitled.
(4) The court may promulgate rules to implement this section, including, but not limited to, providing consistent policies, practices and procedures relating to the process of jury voir dire.