Dietz v. Bouldin

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: January 19, 2016
  • Case #: 15-458
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 794 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a judge can recall a jury to perform further work on a case after the jury has been discharged from the case.

The Petitioner was the Plaintiff in a personal injury case that went to trial. The jury did not include stipulated amounts for damages already incurred and stipulated damage amounts for an injury to the Plaintiff when they announced their verdict. The judge dismissed the jury at which point jury members began to exit the courtroom, interact with court staff, and some left the building. The judge acknowledged the invalid verdict and asked to have the jury members reconvened back into the courtroom. The judge asked the jury to re-deliberate. The Petitioner moved for a re-trial which the District Court denied and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. A split of authority exists between federal courts of appeals regarding whether the jury can be recovened. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the Second, Third, and Seventh Circuits which follow a totality of the circumstances approach which allows jurors to be recalled if there is no evidence that the jurors were "exposed to prejudicial outside influence before the recall." The Fourth and Eighth Circuit prohibits the recall of jurors once the jurors have left the courtroom after being excused. The Petitioner is asking for clarification and consistency on this issue.

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