Warger v. Shauers

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: December 9, 2014
  • Case #: 13-517
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sotomayor, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) precludes a party seeking a new trial from using one juror's affidavit of what another juror said in deliberations to demonstrate that the other juror was dishonest during jury selection.

Petitioner sued Respondent in federal court for damages resulting from an auto accident. After the jury returned a verdict for Respondent, Petitioner was contacted by a jury member, who told Petitioner that the jury foreperson had revealed—during deliberation—that her daughter had been in a similar auto accident, and that a lawsuit would have ruined her daughter’s life. Petitioner—with an affidavit from the juror—moved for a new trial, arguing that the jury foreperson had lied about her impartiality during voir dire.

The District Court denied Petitioner’s motion, explaining that Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which bars evidence about statements made during the jury’s deliberation, barred any investigation into the jury member’s statement. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether 606(b) precludes a party seeking a new trial from using one juror’s affidavit of what another juror said in deliberation to demonstrate the other juror’s dishonesty during voir dire. The Court held that 606(b) applies to juror testimony during a proceeding in which a party seeks a new trial on the ground that a juror lied during voir dire. Specifically, the Court highlighted that 606(b) applies to an inquiry into the validity of a verdict and explained that Petitioner’s affidavit from the juror did not fall within any exception to 606(b).

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