Jury tampering is the crime of unduly attempting to influence the composition and/or decisions of a jury during the course of a trial. In the United States, people have also been charged with jury tampering for handing out pamphlets and flyers indicating that jurors have certain rights and obligations, including an obligation to vote their conscience notwithstanding the instructions they are given by the judge.
The means by which this crime could be perpetrated can include attempting to discredit potential jurors to ensure they will not be selected for duty. Once selected, jurors could be bribed or intimidated to act in a certain manner on duty. It could also involve making unauthorized contact with them for the purpose of introducing prohibited outside information and then arguing for a mistrial.
Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, the Special Criminal Court is a three-judge, juryless court which tries cases based on a majority vote. Use of the Special Criminal Court is restricted to cases where "ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice", and is allowed for by the Constitution of Ireland. While the power was initially created to prevent court cases being subverted by juries sympathetic to the defendant, the Special Criminal Court was established in 1972 to handle terrorism-related cases resulting from the Troubles, when the risk of jury intimidation was high. It has since been used to try cases of high-profile gang leaders and other high-risk non-terrorism cases where normal juries risk intimidation or revenge.
In the United Kingdom, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 allows for non-jury trials when there is danger of jury tampering, or where jury tampering has taken place. On 18 June 2009, the Court of Appeal in England and Wales made a landmark ruling that resulted in the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, allowing the first-ever criminal trial to be held without a jury by invoking Section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The case in question involved four men accused of an armed robbery at Heathrow Airport in February 2004. After three juries either failed to reach verdicts or were discharged, the fourth trial of the case took place before a single judge, and ended on 31 March 2010 with guilty verdicts for all four accused.
Cases of jury tampering
- Gil Dozier, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, was charged with jury tampering while on bail and after being convicted of five felonies, including extortion and racketeering. He served nearly four years in prison.
- James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa, a trade union leader, was convicted of jury tampering in 1964.
- The former West Virginia Governor, William Wallace Barron was convicted of jury tampering in 1971.
- George Pape, a jury foreman in a 1987 trial of John Gotti, sought out Gotti's underlings, who agreed to pay him $75,000 in exchange for a not guilty vote. Pape was later convicted of jury tampering and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
- In 2007, an attempt to bribe a juror in a case investigating cigarette smuggling in Northern Ireland led to the retrial being heard by a judge sitting alone, the first such ruling.
- John Grisham's book The Runaway Jury and the film adaptation Runaway Jury both depict jury tampering.
- The Juror is a 1996 film which depicts jury tampering, as does the novel by George Dawes Green on which it was based.
- In Season 2 Episode 10 of Hot in Cleveland Elka Ostrovsky tampered with Juror No. 8 but he forgot and she was said to be guilty
- In Season 3 Episode 19 of Castle there was a suspected case of jury tampering. Juror No. 7 died of cyanide poisoning in the murder trial of an heiress.
- In the ITV drama The Jury a juror, Paul, is brought evidence by a former jury member on the case (the case is in retrial) she turns out to not be a jury member as she claimed and is the victim's sister.
- In The Sopranos, Corrado Soprano Jr. persuades a single juror not to deliver a guilty verdict against him by hiring someone to find him and threaten the safety of his family.
- In the final episode of Series 2 of Sherlock, the primary antagonist, Moriarty, blackmails jury members during a court case by hacking into their hotel television systems to threaten their families, an example of jury tampering.
- CPS (10 January 2008). "Non Jury Trials: Legal Guidance". The Crown Prosecution Service. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- BBC News: Gang of four convicted of £1.75m armed Heathrow raid, 31 March 2010
- "Blunkett tackles jury tampering". BBC News. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- "Persistence paid off for jailed Dozier", Minden Press-Herald, 23 July 1984, p. 1
- "Bill Sherman, "Louisiana ag chiefs: past and present", 3 July 2008" (PDF). ldaf.state.la.us. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Hoffa faces eight years behind bars". BBC News. 12 March 1964. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- "Ex-Governor of West Virginia Pleads Guilty to Bribing Foreman of His Jury". The New York Times. 30 March 1971. p. 16. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- "Jury bribe bid sees trial ruling". BBC News. 16 October 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-12.