The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled Tuesday in Warger v. Shauers [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that a party seeking a new trial may not use one juror’s affidavit of what another juror said in deliberations to demonstrate the other juror’s dishonesty during voir dire. During voir dire in a personal injury suit, a potential juror pledged to remain impartial but later revealed her bias toward the defendant during jury deliberations. Another juror submitted an affidavit detailing the juror’s statements, and the plaintiff sought a new trial. The US Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirmed the district court’s order, denying the plaintiff a new trial. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court affirmed:
Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) provides that certain juror testimony regarding what occurred in a jury room is inadmissible “[d]uring an inquiry into the validity of a verdict.” The question presented in this case is whether Rule 606(b) precludes a party seeking a new trial fromusing one juror’s affidavit of what another juror said in deliberations to demonstrate the other juror’s dishonesty during voir dire. We hold that it does.
Court precedent in this area is limited, with the most recent decision on rule 606(b) issued over 25 years ago.
The court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in the case in October. Certiorari was granted [JURIST report] last March.