Sometimes after a case has concluded, jurors will discuss the deliberation process with others. If you catch wind that something happened during deliberations which may have negatively affected the outcome of your personal injury case, you may be wondering if you can use that information to request an appeal. Unfortunately, jury deliberations are confidential, something the Supreme Court confirmed in 2014. Here's more information about that decision and the few times when an exception to this rule may be made.
Warger vs. Shauer
In this trial, the plaintiff (Warger) was injured in an accident involving the defendant (Shauer). However, the defendant was cleared of wrongdoing in the original trial. After that trial ended, one of the jurors in the case stated the jury's foreperson had made statements that seemed to indicate she was biased in favor of Shauer.
Warger wanted to use the juror's testimony to obtain an appeal of his case. Unfortunately for him, the Supreme Court determined the law prohibited jurors from testifying in court about events that occurred or statements made in the deliberation room. Additionally, the justices decided the foreperson's statements didn't qualify for one of the few exceptions to this rule. As such, Warger was denied an appeal.
Exceptions to Jury Deliberation Privacy
Like any rule, there are exceptions. Jurors can provide testimony about jury deliberations when:
- Prejudicial information was improperly brought to the attention of the jury members (e.g., someone gives a juror a printout of the defendant's criminal history showing past DUIs)
- One or more of the jurors was subjected to an outside influence (e.g., someone bribes a juror to vote a certain way)
- A clerical mistake occurred when the verdict was entered (e.g., the award amount was entered wrong)
In these cases, the appeals court will likely allow the juror to testify in person or accept an affidavit of the person's testimony.
For anything else, you'll have to find other ways to obtain the information you need to prove juror misconduct or bias. This may include looking through the jury members social media profiles for admissions of guilt or conducting a background check on jury members that indicate bias or dishonesty. For instance, if a juror states he or she was never convicted of a crime and a background check shows otherwise, you may be granted a new trial because of the person's lie.
If you suspect something occurred in jury deliberations that affected your ability to have a fair trial, contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance with digging up proof and winning an appeal.
A law group like Denali Law Group can give you more information.