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 so to testify, the opposing party must 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 the juror 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. However, a juror may testify about (1) whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention, (2) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror, (3) whether the verdict of the jury was arrived at by chance, or (4) whether there was a mistake in entering the verdict onto the verdict form. A juror's affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror may not be received on a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying.
Rule 606 was amended, effective March 1, 1990, March 1, 2008.
Subdivision (a) prohibits a juror from testifying in a case in which that juror is sitting. Many of the practical and theoretical problems that are present when a judge testifies are also present when a juror does so. The impartiality with which the trier of fact should consider evidence is immeasurably damaged whenever a juror presents evidence for one of the parties to a lawsuit.This rule represents a change from prior law which allowed a juror to testify ( 31-01-10, NDCC), but will likely have little effect on practice, as the process of jury selection has kept out of the jury box those who possess information relative to the determination of a lawsuit.
Subdivision (b) comports with existing North Dakota law by prohibiting a juror from testifying as to the mental processes inherent in arriving at a verdict but allowing jurors to testify as to whether outside influences were brought to bear upon a juror, or whether the verdict was arrived at by chance. Subdivision (b) was amended, effective March 1, 2008, to allow juror testimony about mistakes in entering the verdict on the verdict form.
The rationale of this rule is to further free deliberation in the jury room by protecting from disclosure the manner in which a verdict was reached, and to promote finality of verdicts. At the same time considerations must be given to the arrival of a just result in each particular case. Where a verdict is reached because of extraneous, prejudicial information or outside influence, much of the reason for disallowing a juror to testify disappears, and the balance is weighted in favor of obtaining justice in the individual case. Justice also requires disclosure whenever a verdict is arrived at by chance, including a "quotient" verdict, in which the jurors agree in advance to be bound. Although the view has been criticized, it is felt that reaching a verdict by chance is an extreme irregularity which replaces deliberation rather than being a part of it and, as such, should be disclosed.
Rule 606 was amended, effective March 1, 1990. The amendments are technical in nature and no substantive change is intended.
SOURCES: Minutes of Joint Procedure Committee of September 28-29, 2006, page 16; March 24-25, 1988, page 12; December 3, 1987, page 15; January 29, 1976, page 13; October 1, 1975, page 4. Fed.R.Ev. 606; Rule 606, SBAND proposal.
SUPERSEDED: 29-21-18, 31-01-10, NDCC.
CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Civ.P. 59 (New Trials Amendment of Judgments).