The Florida Bar
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR
May 23, 1969
May 23, 1969
A lawyer should not contact a juror after the discharge of the jury for any purpose before filing notice with the court. Some appropriate statement of the basis for challenge of the verdict should be included in this notice.
Note: Hearings prior to post-trial contacts with jurors in civil cases are governed by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.431(h). For a discussion of this issue in criminal cases, see Roland v. State, 584 So.2d 68 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991).
Case: In re: Canons of Ethics, 186 So.2d 509 (Fla. 1966)
Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar makes the following inquiries concerning Canon 23 as amended by the Supreme Court of Florida, 186 So.2d 509 (Fla. 1966):
1. May I contact a juror, after the jury has been discharged, in any manner and for any reason, prior to filing the written “Notice of Intention to Interview?”
2. Must the written notice of intention to interview set forth the reason or reasons why I believe that ground for challenge of the verdict may exist?
3. After filing the written notice of intention to interview, may I proceed to discuss the case with the juror before a hearing is set on the written notice before the trial judgment, with notice to opposing counsel?
We sound again the warning which we sounded in our Opinion 66-47 that this Canon has apparently received but sparse judicial interpretation, and most importantly, none by the Supreme Court of Florida; we do this in view of the fact that the language added to the proposal of The Florida Bar (more particularly discussed in 66-47) is the focal point of the instant questions. With this reminder, we answer the questions as follows:
1. In light of the fact that the Canon seems to be all-encompassing, we do not think that a lawyer should contact a juror after the jury has been discharged for any purpose before filing the notice required by the Canon, subject, of course, to the possibility of casual and noninvited contacts considered in our 66-47.
2. Two members dissenting, the Committee feels that the intent of the amendment to the Canon is at least sufficiently clear to require that some appropriate statement of the basis for the challenge of the jury verdict be placed in the notice. Accordingly, we answer the second question in the affirmative.
3. We find no requirement in the Canon that a hearing be held before the interview, but only that the notice be filed, and we therefore answer the third question in the negative.