Legal Ethics Opinion #1549

Jurors: Communication With Jurors After Their Term Has Expired to 
Determine Extraneous Factors Considered in Reaching Their Verdict

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which an attorney
alleges that a jury in a civil matter rendered a verdict contrary
to the vast preponderance of the evidence. 

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, an attorney may contact and question individual
jurors, after their term has expired, to determine if extraneous
factors were considered in reaching their verdict.

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to your
inquiry is DR 7-107(C), which states that after discharge of the
jury from further consideration of a case with which the lawyer
was connected, the lawyer shall not ask questions or make
comments to a member of that jury that are calculated merely to
harass or embarrass the juror or to influence his actions in
future jury service.  

The committee has previously opined that it is improper for a
lawyer to communicate by letter with members of a jury his or her
thanks for the manner in which they completed their service.  The
committee was concerned that such communications by a lawyer
would create at least the appearance of an effort to influence a
juror's actions in future jury service in violation of DR 7-
107(C).  LEOs #416 and #417.

In the situation you pose, the committee is of the opinion that
it would not be improper for an attorney to contact jurors, after
the expiration of the term, to determine if extraneous factors
were considered in reaching their verdict.  Were an attorney to
be prevented from post-trial communications with a juror, he
could not ascertain if the verdict might be subject to legal
challenge, which could lead to undetected invalidity of a
verdict.  See EC 7-26; Lind v. Medevac, 219 Cal. App. 3d 516, 268
Cal. Rptr. 359 (1990).  The committee believes that, here, the
attorney's contact does not appear to be calculated to either
harass or embarrass jurors or to influence their actions in
future jury service.  Thus, the committee opines that it would
not be improper, under DR 7-107(C) for the attorney to contact
and question jurors as to what factors were considered in
reaching their verdict, after the conclusion of the case.  For
purposes of this opinion, the committee assumes that the contact
with jurors violates no Rule of the court in which the jury was

Committee Opinion
August 12, 1993