Post-Judgment Impeachment of Jury Verdict

Generally a defendant cannot obtain a new trial by speculating that a juror was coerced to side with the majority’s finding.  However, in Coley v. United States, the District’s Court of Appeals overturned a criminal conviction and granted a new trial when (1) a juror during polling indicated that she did not agree with the remainder of the jury’s verdict and (2) after the jury resumed deliberations the juror sent a note indicating she thought the defendant was not guilty (the jury later returned a unanimous verdict).

Although not a civil case, Coley illustrates both the high (but not unreachable) standard for securing a new trial based on a juror’s actions and the importance of polling the jury after verdict and preserving the record through repeated requests for a mis-trial.

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