Volume 96, No 2, Spring 2024
By Melanie Cecelia Regis [PDF]

In McDonough Power Equipment, Inc. v. Greenwood, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that a litigant is entitled to a fair trial but not a perfect one, because there is no such thing as a perfect trial. When allegations of juror misconduct arise, prompting claims of an unfair trial, courts are reluctant to pierce the secrecy of the jury deliberation process. The language of the rule governing juror impeachment allows testimony from jurors in three discrete circumstances. This Article examines two recent cases, each from a different federal circuit court of appeals. The petitioners sought review by the Supreme Court to determine whether an evidentiary hearing was required following allegations of juror misconduct.

Because the results of these cases were not consistent with one another, this Article argues that the Supreme Court should have granted certiorari to address this circuit split. Further, it argues that a clearly worded and uniform standard—one that is applied by all federal courts (and that allows for circumstantial evidence)—will alleviate any distinctions in how the standard is applied. Finally, it argues that the denial of a posttrial evidentiary hearing seeking to address claims of juror misconduct invokes constitutional rights.

Juror misconduct is a serious allegation that deserves a meaningful remedy. Despite fears that posttrial investigation will uproot the jury system, juror impeachment is necessary to ensure that the minimum requirements established by due process and the Sixth Amendment are met to provide a fair trial.