One of the bedrocks of our justice system is the right to have a fair trial. Part and parcel of this is your right to have a jury of your peers impartially weigh the facts of your case and decide whether they believe you broke the law or not. Sometimes the only way to know whether or not you received a fair trial from a jury is to make sure you get out there and talk to them right after a verdict. A defense attorney or defendant is allowed to interview jurors if they are willing to talk, and this is an invaluable tool in making sure your trial was fair.
Recently I found out through an interview with a juror that my client very likely did not receive a fair trial. This juror was horrified at the behavior of her fellow colleagues. She informed me that some of the other jurors were improperly acting as if they had expert knowledge on certain technical subjects, and were openly persuading their fellow juror members that the experts who testified at this trial were wrong! Not only that, but they were belligerent and forceful! In the end this juror felt horrible for voting the way she did because she felt like she gave in to pressure and someone was wrongly found guilty because of it. She couldn’t believe the bias of her fellow jurors and their willingness to convict someone based on their “intuition” when so much evidence pointed to a different outcome.
Since I’ve been doing this for a long time, I knew instantly that I needed to file a “Motion for New Trial”, and let the judge know that the verdict against my client was improper. But I worry that less experienced or dedicated attorneys would never have caught this huge issue. It takes time and effort and a strong resolve to calmly meet and try to talk with a jury after a verdict, but it’s absolutely necessary to insuring a client received a fair trial by impartial, honest jurors. A good attorney knows that their obligation to a client is a full one, and it continues even after a trial.