United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.
the Court are the following motions filed by Respondents:
Motion for Order Precluding Defense Team from Contacting
Victims (Doc. 9); Motion to Preclude Juror Contact (Doc. 10);
and Motion to Set Reasonable Page Limits for Habeas Petition,
Answer, and Reply (Doc. 11). Pandeli has filed responses in
opposition. (Doc's 15-17.) The Court addresses the
motions as follows.
ask the Court enter an order “precluding Pandeli's
defense team from directly contacting any victim in this case
and directing that the team instead initiate any such contact
through the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.”
(Doc. 9 at 2.) In support of their request, Respondents cite
provisions of state and federal law, including A.R.S. §
13-4433(B), which provides that “[t]he defendant, the
defendant's attorney or an agent of the defendant shall
only initiate contact with the victim through the
prosecutor's office, ” and the Crime Victims'
Rights Act (CVRA), which gives state crime victims in federal
habeas cases “the right to be treated with fairness and
with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.”
18 U.S.C. § 3771(a)(8). Pandeli opposes the motion,
arguing Respondents do not represent the victims and cannot
assert their rights, that the Court is not bound by A.R.S.
§ 13-4433(B), and that an order precluding contact
places an undue burden on Pandeli's investigation. (Doc.
or not A.R.S. § 13-4433(B) directly applies to these
proceedings, the Court independently finds that the statute
provides a reasonable mechanism for furthering the CVRA's
goal of respecting a crime victim's dignity and privacy.
Using counsel for Respondents to channel requests to contact
victims, as contemplated by the CVRA itself, 18 U.S.C. §
3771(b)(2)(B)(i) and (d)(1), does not unduly burden
Pandeli's access to the victims. See, e.g.,
Chappell v. Ryan, No. CV-15-00478-PHX-SPL (D. Ariz.
Jul. 21, 2015) (Doc. 19).
ask the Court to “preclude Pandeli's defense team
from contacting the trial or resentencing jurors absent prior
leave of Court based on a showing of good cause to believe
that juror misconduct occurred.” (Doc. 10 at 4.)
Pandeli contends that such a restriction would prevent his
defense team from independently investigating his case and is
not supported by relevant law. (Doc. 15.)
is correct that no applicable law prohibits his counsel from
interviewing jurors. Neither the Local Rules nor Ninth
Circuit law bars post-verdict contact with jurors. Harrod
v. Ryan, No. CV-16-02011-PHX-GMS, 2016 WL 6082109, at *2
(D. Ariz. Oct. 18, 2016). Respondents are correct, however,
that long-established principles discourage post-trial
contact with jurors. See Tanner v. United States,
483 U.S. 107, 120- 21 (1987) (recognizing that allegations
“raised for the first time days, weeks, or months after
the verdict, seriously disrupt the finality of the
process” and could undermine “full and frank
discussion in the jury room, jurors' willingness to
return an unpopular verdict, and the community's trust in
a system that relies on the decisions of laypeople”);
Traver v. Meshriy, 627 F.2d 934, 941 (9th Cir. 1980)
(explaining that because evidence concerning the manner at
which a jury arrived at its verdict is inadmissible to test
the validity of a verdict, “the practice of counsel in
propounding questions on these subjects to jurors after trial
should be discouraged”). Rule 606(b) of the Federal
Rules of Evidence, relied on by Respondents, is grounded in
the common-law rule against admission of jury testimony to
impeach a verdict.
while jurors may not be questioned about their deliberations
or mental processes, they may be questioned regarding any
extraneous influence on their verdict. Tanner, 483
U.S. at 117; Traver, 627 F.2d at 941. Accordingly,
Rule 606(b) allows jury testimony in limited circumstances to
show that (1) extraneous prejudicial information was
improperly brought to the jury's attention, (2) an
outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any
juror, or (3) there was a mistake in the verdict form.
Fed.R.Evid. 606(b); see Tanner, 483 U.S. at 121.
on these principles, the Court agrees that
“investigation directed at discovering the inadmissible
considerations of motives and influences that led to a
juror's verdict, including questions designed to elicit a
juror's thoughts on what their verdict might have been in
response to evidence not presented at trial is inappropriate
and unethical.” Harrod, 2016 WL 6082109, at
*2. The Court further notes, contrary to Pandeli's
argument, that such evidence is inadmissible with respect to
claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Garza v.
Ryan, No. CV-14-01901-PHX-SRB, 2016 WL 4591854, at *2
(D. Ariz. Sept. 2, 2016) (collecting cases). It is not
necessary to impose a good cause standard because counsel are
obligated not to pursue inadmissible evidence about the
have in other capital habeas cases, Respondents ask the Court
to set “reasonable page limits on the habeas petition,
answer, and reply, ” with a limit of 200 pages for the
petition and answer and 75 for the reply. (Doc. 11 at 2.)
They argue that the Court has discretion to set such limits
and cite page-limits imposed in other districts. The District
of Arizona has not placed page limits on habeas petitions,
however, and this Court declines to do so on an ad hoc basis.
Instead, the Court will refer Respondents' request page
limitations in capital habeas cases for consideration as a
matter of District Court policy. See Morris v. Ryan,
No. CV 17-00926 (Sep. 28, 2017) (Doc. 16).
reasons set forth above, IT IS ORDERED
granting Respondents' motion to preclude victim
contact (Doc. 9) as follows: no person who is defined as a
victim in this matter pursuant to Arizona law shall be
contacted by anyone working with or on behalf of Pandeli or
his counsel unless the victim, through counsel for
Respondents, has consented to such contact. If consent is not
provided and Pandeli nonetheless believes contact is
necessary, he may file a motion with the Court explaining the
necessity for such contact.
IS FURTHER ORDERED granting in part and denying in
part Respondents' motion to preclude juror
contact (Doc. 10). The motion is granted to the extent it
would prevent Pandeli from questioning jury members on the
course of their deliberations or other matters that are not
admissible in evidence absent further authorization of this
Court. The motion is denied to the extent it ...