Jury misconduct claims may provide fertile ground for post-conviction relief. Most people are predisposed to believe that criminal convictions are secured by fair, open-minded, unbiased jurors. When jury misconduct evidence is presented, the veneer of jury fairness is tarnished. Not infrequently, however, there is hostility from courts, prosecutors and former jurors towards investigators and attorneys inquiring into and raising potential acts of jury misconduct. Thus, these claims are often difficult to litigate and are frequently controversial, striking at the heart of the American system of justice.
Some states have elaborate and prohibitory rules regarding post-verdict contact with jurors. Federal courts as well tend to have significant restrictions on post-trial juror contact. Before embarking on post-verdict juror interviews, you must know the relevant law and rules.
Below are case lists describing successful civil, criminal and capital jury misconduct cases. The cases are diverse, ranging from intentional acts by jurors who callously disregarded their oaths to inadvertent actions by jurors, bailiffs and judges that were improper. It is important to remember that actual misfeasance by a juror may not be required for a claim of "misconduct." Jury misconduct has been found as the result of juror disobedience to instructions, inappropriate communications with court personnel, third parties and/or alternate jurors, contact with extraneous reading materials and/or inadmissible evidence, race and ethnic prejudice, improper jury deliberations and official misconduct by bailiffs, judges and other court personnel.
Dishonesty on Voir Dire (updated September 2010)
Unqualified/Misbehaving/Biased Jurors (updated September 2010) - This list includes cases involving incompetent, intoxicated, sleeping and racist jurors, as well as jurors subject to prosecution at the time of their service.
Premature Deliberations/Prejudgment (updated September 2010)
Improper Jury Discussions (updated September 2010) - This list includes cases involving discussion of a defendant's failure to testify, prior bad acts by the defendant, personal experiences or expertise of a juror, and parole. It also includes cases where a juror was improperly excused for allegedly failing to deliberate.
Juror Misstatements of Law (updated September 2010)
Court Officer Improper Influence (updated September 2010)
Third Party Contact (updated September 2010)
Media Influence (updated September 2010)
Extra Record Evidence (updated 2010)
Juror Experimentation and Investigation (updated September 2010)
Religious Source Material (updated September 2010)
Jury Agreements (updated September 2010)
Separation of Jurors (updated September 2010)
Missing Jurors (updated September 2010)
Alternate Jurors in Jury Room (updated September 2010)