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Warger v. Shauers, 574 U.S. ___ (2014)

Justia Opinion Summary

Warger sued Shauers for negligence for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. After the jury returned a verdict for Shauers, a juror contacted Warger's counsel, claiming that Whipple, the jury foreperson, had revealed during deliberations that her daughter had been at fault in a fatal motor vehicle accident and that a lawsuit would have ruined her daughter's life. With an affidavit from the juror, Warger moved for a new trial, arguing that Whipple had deliberately lied during voir dire about her impartiality and ability to award damages. The district court denied Warger's motion, citing Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which bars evidence "about any statement made . . . during the jury's deliberations." The Eighth Circuit and a unanimous Supreme Court affirmed. Rule 606(b) unambiguously applies to "an inquiry into the validity of [the] verdict," even to demonstrate dishonesty during voir dire. Warger's right to an impartial jury remains protected; even if a juror lies to conceal bias, parties may bring to the court's attention evidence of bias before the verdict is rendered and use nonjuror evidence after the verdict is rendered. The excluded affidavit is "internal."

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