United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO CONTACT
ROBERTO A. LOUNGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
5, 2017, after a jury trial, the jury in this case found
Defendant Lawrence Oakie not guilty of aggravated sexual
abuse of a child. Doc. 71. Oakie's attorney has now moved
for permission to contact the jurors. Doc. 78.
Local Rule 47.2, entitled "RESTRICTION ON INTERVIEWING
JURORS, " states: "No one may contact any juror
before or during the juror's service on a case. The
parties, their lawyers and anybody acting on their behalf
must seek and obtain permission from the district judge who
tried the case before contacting a juror after the juror
served on the case." D.S.D. Civ. LR 47.2. District
courts have wide discretion when deciding whether to allow
litigants to contact jurors after trial. United States v.
Booker. 334 F.3d 406, 416 (5th Cir. 2003); McCabe v.
Macaulav. No. 05-CV-73-LRR, 2008 WL 5070706, at *1 (N.D.
Iowa Nov. 25, 2008); 3 Jack B. Weinstein & Margaret A.
Berger, Weinstein's Federal Evidence §
606.05[C] (2d ed. 1997). As a general rule, federal courts
disfavor post-trial interviews of jurors. See United
States v. Self. 681 F.3d 190, 199 (3d Cir. 2012);
United States v. McDougal 47 F.Supp.Case
3:16-cr-30066-RAL Document 79 Filed 05/10/17 Page 2 of 4
PageID #: 214 2d 1103, 1104 (E.D. Ark. 1999); Weinstein &
Berger, supra, § 606.06 ("The federal
courts are notoriously reluctant to permit either informal
post-verdict interviews with or testimony from discharged
jurors."). The reasons for this disfavor include
protecting jurors from harassment, preserving jurors'
freedom of deliberation, preventing jury tampering, and
increasing the certainty of verdicts. Pall v.
Coffin. 970 F.2d 964, 972 (1st Cir. 1992); Wilkerson
v. Amco Corp.. 703 F.2d 184, 85-86 (5th Cir.
1983);Weinstein & Berger, supra. §
typically deny a litigant's request to interview jurors
post-verdict absent a threshold showing of an outside,
intrusion into the jury process. United States v.
Wright, 506 F.3d 1293, 1303 (10th Cir. 2007) ("This
court has held that a trial, judge is well within his
discretion in denying leave to inquire of jurors where there
was no claim of external interference with the
process."); Booker, 334 F.3d at 416 ("A
trial court's decision to deny an attorney's request
for post-trial interviews is reviewed for abuse of
discretion. Only when there is a showing of illegal or
prejudicial intrusion into the jury process will the court
sanction such an inquiry.") (internal citations
omitted); McElroy by McElrov v. Firestone Tire &
Rubber Co., 894 F.2d 1504, 1511 (11th Cir. 1990)
(holding that denial of post-verdict motion to interview
jurors was not an abuse of discretion where moving party did
not allege that any prejudicial information or outside
influence was brought to bear on the jury); McCabe,
2008 WL 5070706, at *2 (denying motion to interview jurors
because moving party did not make a preliminary showing that
members of the jury either learned of any extraneous
prejudicial information or that outside influences were
brought to bear upon them); Allen v. United States,
No. 4:07CV00027 ERW, 2008 WL 80061, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 4,
2008) (same): Economou v. Little, 850 F.Supp. 849,
852 (N.D. Cal. 1994) ("Most federal courts deny requests
to conduct post-verdict interviews of jurors unless there is
a proper preliminary showing of likely juror misconduct or
witness incompetency."); see also United States-v.
Eagle, 539 F.2d 1166, 1170 (8th Cir. 1976) (holding that
defendant had no right to subpoena jurors after trial when he
had not made "specific allegations that any of them
engaged in overt improper acts susceptible of proof).
Oakie has not made any preliminary showing that there was an
outside intrusion into the jury process. Indeed, there would
be no reason for him to do so as he was acquitted of all
charges. Instead, Oakie's motion states that he wants to
contact the jurors "regarding their thoughts and
opinions of the trial." Doc. 78; Such a
request is well within this Court's discretion to deny.
See Haeberle v. Texas Int'l Airlines, 739 F.2d
1019 (5th Cir. 1984) ("The first-amendment interests of
both the disgruntled litigant and its counsel in order to
satisfy their curiosity and improve their advocacy are
limited. We agree with the district court's implicit
conclusion that those interests are not merely balanced but
plainly outweighed by the jurors' interest in privacy and
the public's interest in well-administered
justice."); McDougal, 47 F.Supp.2d at 1105 (declining
government's motion to interview jurors after mistrial
where stated purpose of interview was to determine whether to
retry case); Olsson v. A.O. Smith Harvestore Prods..
Inc., 696 F.Supp. 411, 412 (S.D. Ind. 1986)
("Absent a showing of evidence of juror impropriety, an
attorney is not permitted to invade the province of the jury
room for the purpose of improving his skills as a trial
lawyer by ascertaining from the jurors which facets of the
trial influenced their verdict."). Nevertheless, this
Court may allow Oakie some limited contact with the jury,
provided that the contact does not harass the jurors or
invade their freedom of deliberation. To that end, Oakie
should submit to this Court the questions he plans on asking
the jurors. If this Court approves of the questions, a
representative of Oakie will be free to contact the jurors,
as long as any contact with the jurors is prefaced with an
explanation that the jurors are not required to answer any
questions and can terminate the conversation at any time.
reasons stated above, it is hereby
that Oakie file with this Court a list of the questions he
intends to ask the jurors if he in fact wants to ...