Thursday, October 9, 2014
Yesterday, Adam Liptak published the story, Justices Hear Case on Allowing Testimony by Jurors, in the New York Times. The story concerns the oral argument in Warger v. Shauers, the Supreme Court case addressing the following issue:
Whether Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) permits a party moving for a new trial based on juror dishonesty during voir dire to introduce juror testimony about statements made during deliberations that tend to show the alleged dishonesty.
Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) reads as follows:
(b) During an Inquiry into the Validity of a Verdict or Indictment.
(1) Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a juror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.
(2) Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:
(A) extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention;
(B) an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror; or
(C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form.
Long-time readers of this blog will note that I've written on the issue several times, including in this post about the prosecution of actor Wesley Snipes.
In 2008, the Supreme Court of North Dakota was able to note in State v. Hidanovic, 747 N.W.2d 463, 474 (N.D. 2008), that "[c]ourts have universally held that provisions similar to N.D.R.Ev. 606(b)...do not preclude evidence to show a juror lied during voir dire." This, however, is no longer the case, and, if Liptak's article is any indication, the Justices of the Supreme Court seem ready to rule that Rule 606(b) precludes jurors from testifying concerning deliberations to prove that a juror lied during voir dire.