Remember DRJ’s post about the juror who sent a note to the judge during a civil trial asking: “What is the maximum amount that can be awarded?” It turned out that the jury was favoring the defense, and the woman who sent the note favoring the plaintiff was in the minority. Still, the defense (Ford Motor Company) settled for $3 million out of fear caused by the note.
A follow-up story is here:
Ford says a jury note to the judge — that asked, “What is the maximum amount that can be awarded?” — fraudulently induced the car company to settle with Rosa Martinez, a Brownsville woman who was paralyzed from the neck down after a 2002 rollover wreck in a Ford SUV.
. . . .
Martinez’s lawyers argued that guessing wrong about a jury’s intent is no grounds for reversal. However, the Supreme Court said in a 9-0 decision that Ford may question jurors under oath to determine if the note was sent in an attempt to induce a settlement.
“Discovery involving jurors will not be appropriate in most cases, but in this case there was more than just a suspicion that something suspect occurred — there was some circumstantial evidence that it did,” the ruling said, noting that several jurors objected to sending the note and others did not know that it was sent.
This seems right. If there is an indication that a juror actively engaged in misconduct, it should be investigated.