United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
three-week trial in May, the jury in the Jones bellwether
case returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. Doc. 11350.
Plaintiff has filed a motion to contact the jurors. Doc.
11663. Defendants have filed a response. Doc. 11843. No.
reply has been filed and neither side has requested oral
argument. The Court will deny the motion.
jurors in this case were deadlocked after ten hours of
deliberation. The Court conferred with the parties on how to
proceed. Plaintiff urged the Court to “encourage [the
jurors] to keep trying to arrive at a resolution[.]”
Doc. 11412 at 3. The Court expressed doubt that further
instructions would prove helpful given the length of
deliberations. Doc. 11412 at 3-5. After considering the
matter further, Plaintiff's counsel asked that the Court
urge the jurors to continue their deliberations. Id.
at 6. Defense counsel asked the Court to declare a mistrial.
Court chose to grant Plaintiff's request and gave the
jury this Circuit's model instruction for a deadlocked
jury. Id. at 9-10; see Ninth Circuit Model
Civil Jury Instructions § 3.7 (2017). After deliberating
for two more hours, the jury returned a unanimous defense
verdict. Doc. 11412 at 11-13; see Doc. 11350.
later, Plaintiff filed this motion to contact jurors pursuant
to Local Rule of Civil Procedure 39.2. Doc. 11663. Defendants
oppose the motion. Doc. 11843.
Rule 39.2 requires the party seeking to interview jurors to
file proposed interrogatories and an affidavit setting forth
the reasons for the questions. LRCiv 39.2(b). The rule
requires a showing of “good cause” consistent
with Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b). Id.
606(b) “prohibits all post-verdict inquiries into a
juror's deliberative process.” Harris Corp. v.
Indep. Techs., No. CV-01-2995 ER(AJWX), 2002 WL
31006045, at *1 (C.D. Cal. July 25, 2002) (citing Smith
v. Cupp, 457 F.2d 1098, 1100 (9th Cir. 1972)).
Specifically, the rule prohibits a juror from testifying
about “any statement made or incident that occurred
during the jury's deliberations; the effect of anything
on that juror's or another juror's vote; or any
juror's mental processes concerning the verdict[.]”
Fed.R.Evid. 606(b)(1). The rule contains three exceptions: a
juror may testify about whether (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)(2)(A)-(C). Even under these
limited exceptions, however, “[j]urors may not testify
as to how they or other jurors were affected by the
extraneous prejudicial information or outside influence; they
may only testify as to its existence.” Hard v.
Burlington N. R.R. Co., 870 F.2d 1454, 1461 (9th Cir.
policy considerations underlie this limitation on juror
testimony.” Mitchell v. United States, No.
CV-09-8089-PCT-MHM, 2009 WL 2905958, at *1 (D. Ariz. Sept. 4,
2009). Allowing inquiry into jury deliberations would
“make what was intended to be a private deliberation,
the constant subject of public investigation; to the
destruction of all frankness and freedom of discussion and
conference.” McDonald v. Pless, 238 U.S. 264,
267-68 (1915); see Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S.
107, 127 (1987) (“[L]ong recognized and very
substantial concerns support the protection of jury
deliberations from intrusive inquiry.”); Harrod v.
Ryan, No. CV-16-02011-PHX-GMS, 2016 WL 6082109, at *2
(D. Ariz. Oct. 18, 2016) (“Federal courts have long
recognized that unduly speculative questioning of juries
poses significant problems and should be
asked that the jurors be given an additional instruction to
encourage them to break the deadlock and reach a unanimous
verdict. Doc. 11412 at 3, 6. Plaintiff does not claim that
the instruction given by the Court was improper or that any
of the Rule 606(b) exceptions apply. Rather, Plaintiff states
that she “has some concern that there was a fundamental
misunderstanding by the jurors that they could hold their
positions and that a mistrial and another trial at a later
date would result.” Doc. 11663 at 2. Noting that a few
jurors were apparently emotional when polled about the
verdict, Plaintiff claims that this “suggest[s] that
they would have found for Plaintiff but felt that they needed
to capitulate to reach a unanimous verdict[.]”
Id. Plaintiff asserts that good cause exists for the
jurors to be interviewed by her attorneys. Id.
Court does not agree. The jury was specifically instructed
that they should reach a unanimous verdict only if
“each of you can do so without violating your
individual judgments and conscience.” Doc. 11412 at 9.
The instruction made clear that no juror should “change
an honest belief as to the weight or effect of the evidence
solely because of the opinions of the other jurors, or for
the mere purpose of returning a verdict.” Id.
at 10. The jury is presumed to have understood and followed
this instruction. The fact that some jurors appeared
emotional might well have been the product of three weeks of
a difficult and complicated trial and some 12 hours of
the Court finds that questioning the jurors in this case
would result in an intrusive inquiry into their deliberations
and thought processes. The first question Plaintiff seeks to
ask is “what facts or arguments changed the vote of
those jurors who had previously favored Plaintiff?”
Doc. 11663 at 2. This question goes to the heart of the jury
deliberations. It impermissibly seeks to discover the
“juror's mental processes concerning the