“The right to trial by jury, if it is to mean anything, must mean the right to a fair and impartial jury. A litigant is therefore entitled to a jury composed of 12 impartial jurors; …a party has the right to have that decision, whether for or against him, based on the honest deliberations of 12 such individuals.”2 The legitimacy of our justice system hinges on the fact that the results of trials, as dictated by a jury of one’s peers, remain free from the taint of extrinsic evidence and are grounded solely on the evidence presented by the parties at trial. However, when jurors bring with them to the jury box professional expertise or other experiences, such may enhance the deliberations and ensure that the parties are afforded a better verdict determined by a more educated jury. This is true as long as those experiences and expertise were properly exposed during voir dire. In Meyer v. State, the Nevada Supreme Court clarified the standard of review for cases of alleged jury tampering or juror misconduct.3 The following Nevada Law Commentary will discuss the facts and disposition of the Meyer case. Next, it will discretely outline the standard pronounced by Meyer regarding obtaining a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct stemming from improper extrinsic evidence and improper use of a juror’s own expertise and experiences. Finally, the corollary of when jurors conceal material information during voir dire will be discussed. In many respects, Meyer is a sound and laudable ruling that will serve to clarify what the law is, while enhancing the jury deliberation process, a pillar of the legitimacy of our civil and criminal adversary system of justice relies on. Yet, the potential for jurors to conceal, during the voir dire stage, their experiences despite being asked about them may serve to weaken Meyer’s foundation. As such, the Nevada Supreme Court would be wise to one day clarify the new trial standard based on such concealment.
Roehrs, Timothy W., "Summary of Meyer v. State, 119 Nev. Adv. Rep. 61" (2003). Nevada Supreme Court Summaries. 740.