Jury tampering refers to improper communications with a juror with the purpose of influencing the juror’s deliberative process via private communication or contact regarding matters directly related to the case being tried. Examples of jury tampering may include providing outside information to a juror and bribing, threating or intimidating a juror to influence the verdict. Both lawyers and jurors themselves can be involved in jury tampering.
Jury tampering is not only an ethical infraction, but a criminal offense. Depending on states, jury tampering can be a felony offense or a misdemeanor. Penalties for jury tampering may also vary from states to states. In New York, for example, bribing a juror is a class D felony and is subject to a maximum of seven years of imprisonment.
The law of jury tampering is to ensure a party’s constitutional right to a trial before an impartial jury. The Supreme Court in Remmer v. United States held that jury tampering in criminal cases are presumptively prejudicial, meaning that the party faced with allegations of jury tampering bears the burden to prove that there is no reasonable possibility that the tampering affected the impartiality of the jury.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]