Topics: Appellate Review

Testimony about juror statements during deliberations

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Warger v. Shauers, 135 S.Ct. 521 (2014)

Testimony about juror statements during deliberations

not admissible to show dishonesty during voir dire

Justice Sotomayor opinion:.

In Warger v. Shauers, the Court examined Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which generally prohibits the testimony of jurors about statements made during deliberations when the testimony is offered in “an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment.” In a unanimous opinion by Justice Sotomayor, it held that Rule 606(b) precludes a party seeking a new trial from using a juror’s affidavit about statements made by another juror during deliberations to show that the second juror gave dishonest answers during voir dire.

To summarize the case in plain language: After a traffic accident, a motorcycle rider sued for his injuries. The jury ruled against him. The motorcyclist then asked for a new trial, because he said that one of the jurors lied when she answered questions during jury selection about her attitude toward accident lawsuits. To prove she lied, the motorcyclist asked the judge to take into account a sworn statement by another juror. That statement described things that the first juror allegedly said in the jury room. The judge refused to consider the sworn statement. The Supreme Court upheld the judge’s decision, relying upon a rule of evidence that prohibits almost all testimony about what jurors say to each other while they are deciding a case.

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