Bouldin v. Dietz

District court judge did not err by reconvening jury for further deliberations to correct an error in the verdicts, since he did so within minutes of discharging them and questioned them to make sure they had not been influenced by outside sources.  A federal judge has inherent power to rescind a jury discharge order and to recall the jury for further deliberations to correct an error in the jury’s verdicts.  However, because the risk of tainting the jury is high after it is discharged, the power is limited in time and scope and must be exercised carefully to avoid any potential prejudice.  The recall must be made promptly, and the federal judge must assure that no jury has been tainted meanwhile by discussing the case with non-jurors or reading media or online reports about it.  Here, the judge acted properly in vacating the discharge order and recalling the jury.  He did so within minutes of discharging the jury.  He questioned the jurors, concluded they had not been influenced by outside sources, and re-empanelled them.

United States Supreme Court (Sotomayor, J.; Thomas & Kennedy, JJ., dissenting); June 9, 2016; 2016 WL 3189528

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