One federal court in Louisiana is considering imposing some of the toughest restrictions in the country on post-trial juror contact and discussions. The proposed changes include:
- Requiring attorneys to obtain permission from the court prior to contacting jurors
- Prohibiting jurors from contacting lawyers or talking about their deliberations. (I am not sure this would be constitutional)
- Requiring any discussion with jurors to take place with the judge present.
- Requiring jurors to only talk about their vote, not the "mental processes" that went into reaching their decision. (I am not sure this would be constitutional)
These changes stem from the actions of the attorney representing Kurt Mix of Deepwater Horizon fame. Shortly after Mix's conviction for obstruction of justice, his attorney, without the court's knowledge, contacted jurors to discuss their verdict. The attorney learned that at least one juror had based her guilty vote on information that she had obtained from outside of the courtroom.
The attorney presented the information about the juror to the court which granted the defendant a new trial. The trial judge, however, was none too happy about the fact that the attorney had contacted the jurors without first obtaining the court's permission.
Times Picayune: Tainted BP engineer's trial could muzzle jurors in future cases