February 25, 2020 3 minutes to read · 700 words

Judge’s Ex Parte Meeting with Jurors Sparks Retrial

By Jonathan R. Engel

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Reprinted with permission from Litigation News, Volume 45, Number 1, Fall 2019, at 7. ©2019 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

A trial judge’s meeting with jurors without counsel present to discuss certain jurors’ concerns about the defendants’ courtroom behavior warranted a new trial. The court of appeals held that the ex parte meeting and the trial judge’s inflammatory comments impacted the jury’s ability to make a fair decision. ABA Section of Litigation leaders note the troubling appearance of impropriety that can arise when a judge fails to follow best practices in communicating with jurors.

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