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ECONOMOU v. LITTLE

April 14, 1994

GEORGE MICHAEL ECONOMOU, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG LITTLE, et al., Defendants.


Infante


The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDWARD A. INFANTE

On April 8, 1994, defendants County of Santa Cruz and Craig Little submitted a request for an order releasing the names, addresses and telephone numbers of each of the eight jurors who deliberated and rendered a verdict in the above entitled action.

 I. BACKGROUND

 This case came on for jury trial on March 11, 1994. The parties appeared by counsel and presented their cases. *fn1" Upon being instructed and following five hours and forty-seven minutes of deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous special verdict.

 On the claim of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1983, the jury found in favor of plaintiff and against defendant Craig Little.

 On the claim of battery on plaintiff by the use of unreasonable or excessive force in arresting plaintiff, the jury found in favor of plaintiff and against defendant Craig Little. The jury awarded damages in the amount of $ 67,350, including $ 5,000 in punitive damages.

 The jury found in favor of defendant James Hart and against plaintiff on both claims set forth above.

 Upon publication of the special verdict, defense counsel requested that the jurors be individually polled, and the court granted the request. The deputy clerk individually polled the jurors, and each juror assented to the published verdict as "true and correct."

 II. ANALYSIS

 Rule 606(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides:

 
(b) Inquiry into validity of verdict or indictment. Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon that or any other juror's mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning the juror's mental processes in connection therewith, except that a juror may testify on the question whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror. Nor may a juror's affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror concerning a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying be received for these purposes. (Emphasis added.)

 Thus, post-verdict jury interrogation may be appropriate to determine whether (1) extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or (2) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror.

 The Notes of the Advisory Committee explain that Rule 606(b) was an attempt to reconcile two competing interests: on the one hand, the "freedom of deliberation, stability and finality of verdicts and protection of jurors against annoyance and embarrassment" and on the other hand, a party's right to a fair and impartial jury trial. These same policies reasons have been discussed in several cases. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has stated:

 
There is a judicial reluctance, for sound and easily understood reasons 'to inquire into the state of mind of any juror and into the conduct of the jurors during their deliberations.' United States v. Dioguardi, 492 F.2d 70, 79 (2nd Cir. 1974). This is to avoid harassment of jurors, inhibition of deliberation in the jury room, a deluge of post-verdict applications mostly without real merit, and an increase ...

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