Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Jury Secrecy Rule Definition:

A rule of law which prohibits the disclosure, by a member of a jury, of statements or opinions voiced during jury deliberations.

Related Terms: Juror, Jury

The rule is of common law origin and has found a home in statute. For example, Federal Rules of Evidence, §606(b), as follows (a similar version has been adopted in many U.S. states):

"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 that 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, except that a juror may testify on the question 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."

Similarly, §649 of Canada's Criminal Code:

"Every member of a jury, and every person providing technical, personal, interpretative or other support services to a juror with a physical disability, who, except for the purposes of an investigation of an alleged offence ... in relation to a juror, or giving evidence in criminal proceedings in relation to such an offence, discloses any information relating to the proceedings of the jury when it was absent from the courtroom that was not subsequently disclosed in open court is guilty of an offence ...."

In R v Pan, Justice Arbour, during her short tenure on Canada's Supreme Court, wrote, at ¶77, that the "proper interpretation of the modern version" of the jury secrecy rule is:

"Statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced and votes cast by members of a jury in the course of their deliberations are inadmissible in any legal proceedings. In particular, jurors may not testify about the effect of anything on their or other jurors' minds, emotions or ultimate decision. On the other hand, the common law rule does not render inadmissible evidence of facts, statements or events extrinsic to the deliberation process, whether originating from a juror or from a third party, that may have tainted the verdict."

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