Remmer v. United States - 347 U.S. 227 (1954)
U.S. Supreme Court
Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227 (1954)
Remmer v. United States
Argued February 1-2, 1954
Decided March 8, 1954
347 U.S. 227
During the trial of petitioner in a Federal District Court on charges of willful evasion of federal income taxes, an unnamed person communicated with a juror who afterwards became the jury foreman, and remarked to him that he could profit by bringing in a verdict favorable to petitioner. The juror reported the incident to the judge, who informed the prosecuting attorneys and advised with them. As a result, the Federal Bureau of Investigation made an investigation and report, which was considered by the judge and prosecutors alone, but nothing further was said or done. Petitioner and his counsel first learned of the matter after a verdict of guilty had been rendered, and petitioner thereupon moved for a new trial, which was denied.
Held: the case is remanded to the District Court with directions to hold a hearing to determine whether the incident complained of was harmful to petitioner, and if found to have been harmful, to grant a new trial. Pp. 347 U. S. 228-230.
(a) In a criminal case, any private communication, contact, or tampering, directly or indirectly, with a juror during a trial about the matter pending before the jury is presumptively prejudicial, if not made in pursuance of known rules of the court and the instructions and directions of the court made during the trial, with full knowledge of the parties. P. 347 U. S. 229.
(b) The presumption is not conclusive, but the burden rests heavily upon the Government to establish, after notice to and hearing of the defendant, that such contact with the juror was harmless to the defendant. P. 347 U. S. 229.
205 F.2d 277, judgment vacated.