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Florida Fifth DCA holds that trial court erred in denying defendant's motion for post-trial interview of juror who allegedly lied in voir dire about previous criminal convictions

On April 13, 2017, in Westgate Palace LLC v. Parr, No. 5D16-1503, the Florida Fifth DCA held that that trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion for post-trial interview of juror who allegedly lied in voir dire about previous criminal convictions. The juror denied she had ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, but the defendant claimed that a post-trial investigation revealed seven criminal convictions. On review for abuse of discretion, the Florida Fifth DCA noted that Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.431(h) permits a party to request an interview with a juror within ten days after the verdict if the party believes there are grounds for a legal challenge to the verdict. Citing Egitto v. Wittman, 980 So. 2d 1238, 1240 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), the Court stated that a trial court should grant a juror interview only when the motion contains sworn factual allegations that, if proven, would warrant a new trial. Trial courts apply a three-part test when ruling on a motion to interview a juror. First, the complaining party must establish that the information is relevant and material to jury service in the case. Second, that the juror concealed the information during questioning. Lastly, that the failure to disclose the information was not attributable to the complaining party's lack of diligence. De La Rosa v. Zequeira, 659 So. 2d 239, 241 (Fla. 1995) (citing Skiles v. Ryder Truck Lines, Inc., 267 So. 2d 379, 380 (Fla. 2d DCA 1972)). The Fifth DCA remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to conduct the requested interview and then apply the De La Rosa factors to determine whether a new trial is warranted.

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