The court may direct that up to six jurors in addition to the regular jury be called and impaneled to sit as alternate jurors. This is usually done when a case is expected to last more than one or two days. Alternate jurors are drawn in the same manner, have the same qualifications, are subject to the same examination and challenges, take the same oath and have the same functions, powers, facilities and privileges as the regular jurors. Alternate jurors sit and listen to the case along with the jurors on the main panel. If one of the jurors becomes ill or must be excused for some other reason, that juror is replaced by the first alternate juror. The same procedure is followed with respect to additional jurors and alternate jurors. In non-capital cases, when the jury retires to deliberate, any remaining alternate jurors are excused, since a juror may not be substituted after deliberations begin.115 In capital cases, alternate jurors are not excused during deliberations, but are sequestered separately until a verdict on guilt or innocence is entered. If the verdict is guilty of first degree murder, the alternates sit as alternate jurors on the issue of the recommendation of punishment.116
115. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 47(b); Super. Ct. Cr. R. 24(c); Comm. Pls. Ct. Cr. R. 24(c).
116. 11 Del. C. § 4209(b).
© 2010 David L. Finger