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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

EVIDENCE

Rule 606.Competency of Juror as Witness

(a)At the trial.

A member of the jury may not testify as a witness before that jury in the trial of the case in which the juror is sitting. If the juror is called to so testify, the opposing party shall be afforded an opportunity to object out of the presence of the jury.

(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, or as to any threats of violence or violent acts brought to bear on jurors, from whatever source, to reach a verdict, or as to whether a juror gave false answers on voir dire that concealed prejudice or bias toward one of the parties, or in order to correct an error made in entering the verdict on the verdict form. 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.

(Amended effective January 1, 1990; amended effective July 1, 2016.)

Committee Comment - 1989

The rule is based on the same rationale that gives rise to Rule 605. However, when a juror is called as a witness an objection is required by the party opposing this testimony. Opportunity should be provided for an objection out of the presence of the jury.

Rule 606(b) is a reasoned compromise between the view that jury verdicts should be totally immunized from review in order to encourage freedom of deliberation, stability, and finality of judgments; and the necessity for having some check on the jury's conduct. Under the rule, the juror's thought processes and mental operations are protected from later scrutiny. Only evidence of the use of extraneous prejudicial information or other outside influence that is improperly brought to bear upon a juror is admissible. In criminal cases such an intrusion on the jury's processes on behalf of the accused might be mandated by the Sixth Amendment. See Parker v. Gladden, 385 U.S. 363, 364, 87 S.Ct. 468, 470, 17 L.Ed.2d 420, 422 (1966).

The application of the rule may be simple in many cases, such as unauthorized views, experiments, investigations, etc., but in other cases the rule merely sets out guidelines for the court to apply in a case-by-case analysis. Compare Olberg v. Minneapolis Gas Co., 291 Minn. 334, 340, 191 N.W.2d 418, 422 (1971) in which the Court stated that evidence of a juror's general "bias, motives, or beliefs should not be considered" with State v. Hayden Miller Co., 263 Minn. 29, 35, 116 N.W.2d 535, 539 (1962) in which the Court holds that bias resulting from specialized or personal knowledge of the dispute and withheld on voir dire is subject to inquiry.

The rule makes the juror's statements by way of affidavit or testimony incompetent. The rule does not purport to set out standards for when a new trial should be granted on the grounds of juror misconduct. Nor does the rule set the proper procedure for procuring admissible information from jurors. In Minnesota it is generally considered improper to question jurors after a trial for the purpose of obtaining evidence for a motion for a new trial. If possible misconduct on behalf of a juror is suspected, it should be reported to the Court, and if necessary the jurors will be interrogated on the record and under oath in court. Schwartz v. Minneapolis Gas Co., 258 Minn. 325, 328, 104 N.W.2d 301, 303 (1960); Olberg v. Minneapolis Gas Co., 291 Minn. 334, 343, 191 N.W.2d 418, 424 (1971); Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.03, subd 20(6). See also Rule 3.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in regard to communications with jurors. The amended rule allows jurors to testify about overt threats of violence or violent acts brought to bear on jurors by anyone, including by other jurors. Threats of violence and use of violence is clearly outside of the scope of the acceptable decisionmaking process of a jury. The pressures and dynamics of juror deliberations will frequently be stressful and jurors will, of course, become agitated from time to time. The trial court must distinguish between testimony about "psychological" intimidation, coercion, and persuasion, which would be inadmissible, as opposed to express acts or threats of violence. See State v. Scheerle, 285 N.W.2d 686 (Minn. 1979); State v. Hoskins, 292 Minn. 111, 193 N.W.2d 802 (1972).

Committee Comment - 2016

Consistent with the federal rule, Rule 606(b) has been amended to provide that juror testimony may be used to prove that the verdict reported was the result of a mistake in entering the verdict on the verdict form. In addition, in accordance with the common law, the rule has been amended to provide that jurors may testify or provide affidavits "when there was some indication that a juror gave false answers on voir dire which concealed prejudice or bias toward one of the parties and thereby deprived that party of a fair trial." State v. Stofflet, 281 N.W.2d 494, 498 (Minn. 1979) (quoting Note, 4 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 417, 432-33).