D. Interviewing jurors
There is no general prohibition on the media interviewing jurors.
The right of a party to interview jurors is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 606, which “prohibit[s] the interrogation of jurors except with regard to ‘whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror.’” United States v. Gravely, 840 F.2d 1156, 1159 (4th Cir. 1988).
Generally, at the end of all jury trials in Idaho, judges instruct jurors “that whether you talk to the attorneys or to anyone else is entirely your own decision. It is proper for you to discuss this case if you wish to but you are not required to do so and you may choose not to discuss the case with anyone at all. If you choose to talk to someone about this case you may tell them as much or as little as you like about your deliberations or the facts that influenced your decisions.” IDJI2d 1.17. The court also instructs jurors to contact it if “anyone persists in discussing the case over your objection or becomes critical of your service.” Id. In contrast, grand jurors are not permitted to discuss “whatever was said or done in grand jury proceedings and which manner each grand juror may have voted on a matter before them.” Idaho Crim. R. 6.4(c).
The issue of post-verdict contact between defense attorneys and jurors in a capital murder case came before the Idaho Supreme Court in Hall v. State, 151 Idaho 42, 253 P.3d 716 (2011). There, attorneys for a criminal defendant who had been found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and rape and sentenced to death sought permission to interview jurors post-trial. The trial court denied such motion, and the attorneys appealed arguing that in the absence of a statute or rule prohibiting such contact, the trial court’s order violated their First Amendment rights. The Idaho Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s order prohibiting such contact with jurors, finding that trial courts have “inherent authority to enter an order restricting contact with the jury, including post-verdict contact.” Id. at 46, 253 P.3d at 720. The Court recognized that the attorneys had limited First Amendment rights, but such rights were outweighed by the public policy interests in preserving a full and fair trial, protecting juror privacy and protecting the finality of verdicts. Id. at 48, 253 P.3d at 722.
In Commonwealth v. Genovese, 487 A.2d 364, 368-69 (Pa. Super. 1985), the Superior Court struck down an order temporarily enjoining members of the press from interviewing jurors in a high-profile murder trial. While the court held that the order, which would automatically dissolve upon the completion of the trial, was not a prior restraint, it nonetheless concluded that there was no evidence showing that the order “was necessary to protect the jurors or to guarantee a fair trial.”