Apple v. Samsung: Samsung's Argument Regarding Juror Misconduct Insufficient to Justify a New Trial

December 26, 2012

After the jury returned a verdict in Apple's favor for over $1 billion in damages, Samsung moved the district court for a new trial. Samsung's based its motion on the argument that the jury foreperson gave dishonest answers during voir dire and that interviews he gave after the verdict demonstrated that he was biased. As explained by the district court, "Samsung claims that Mr. Hogan lied about his involvement nineteen years ago in a lawsuit with Seagate, a company in which Samsung is, as of 2011, a 9.6% shareholder. Samsung also argues that Mr. Hogan improperly presented extraneous prejudicial information during jury deliberations."

The jury foreperson had not disclosed that he was sued by his former employer, Seagate, in 1993 and that he had filed for personal bankruptcy six months after he was sued by Seagate. Samsung asserted that it learned of the jury foreperson's lawsuit with Seagate only after it reviewed the bankruptcy file, which occurred after the trial had concluded.

During interviews after the trial, the jury foreperson also commented on his role during the jury deliberations, which conduct Samsung argued warranted a new trial. "He explained, among other things, his view that whether design patents infringe depends on the "look and feel" of the device, and that a prior art reference is not invalidating unless it is "interchangeable." Id., Exhs. L at 2-3, N at 2.

"Samsung now argues that this Court should hold a hearing with all jurors to fully examine Mr. Hogan's conduct during voir dire and jury deliberations. Motion at 3. Samsung contends that a new trial is warranted based on Mr. Hogan's conduct because it shows that he was a biased juror who lied in order to obtain a seat on the jury, and that he inappropriately introduced extraneous prejudicial information to jury deliberations. Id. at 2."
First, the district court concluded that Samsung had waived its claim for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial based on alleged dishonesty during voir dire. "Prior to the verdict, Samsung could have discovered Mr. Hogan's litigation with Seagate, had Samsung acted with reasonable diligence based on information Samsung acquired through voir dire, namely that Mr. Hogan stated during voir dire that he had worked for Seagate."

Second, the district court determined that the jury foreperson's post-verdict interviews did not warrant a new trial. "Samsung argues that an evidentiary hearing and a new trial are also warranted based on Mr. Hogan's post-verdict interviews, which show that he introduced "incorrect and extraneous legal standards" to jury deliberations. Motion at 3. These statements, however, are barred by Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b)."

"Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) is an embodiment of this longstanding policy, strongly disfavoring the admission of juror testimony to impeach a verdict. It states:
Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon that or any other juror's mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning the juror's mental processes in connection therewith. But a juror may testify about (1) whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention, (2) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror, or (3) whether there was a mistake in entering the verdict onto the verdict form. A juror's affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror may not be received on a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying. Fed. R. Evid. 606(b)."

The district court then addressed Rule 606(b) as follows: "In deciding whether an evidentiary hearing will be required to determine the necessity of retrial, the Court must consider only that portion of the affidavit or testimony which would be admissible under Rule 606(b). Hard II, 870 F.2d at 1461. To that end, the Court "may not consider jurors' testimony addressing the jury's deliberative process unless the testimony 'bear[s] on extraneous influences on the deliberation.'" Harrison v. Gillespie, 640 F.3d 888, 896 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Pimentel, 654 F.2d 538, 542 (9th Cir. 1981)).

"The question then becomes what constitutes an extraneous influence. A "juror's personal knowledge constitutes extraneous prejudicial information where the juror has personal knowledge regarding the parties or issues involved in the litigation." Hard v. Burlington N. R.R. (Hard I), 812 F.2d 482, 486 (9th Cir. 1987). Jurors are expected to bring their own personal experiences with them into the courtroom, and may generally rely on their personal knowledge or past experiences when hearing the evidence, deliberating, and deciding their verdict so long as they do not have knowledge related to the specific case they are deciding. Id."

After that analysis, the district court concluded that the jury foreperson's post-verdict statements did not suggest extraneous prejudicial information and were therefore barred by Fed.R.Evid. 606(b). "Samsung argues that Mr. Hogan's post-verdict interviews show that he introduced "incorrect and erroneous legal standards" pertaining to infringement and invalidity issues. Motion at 3. Mr. Hogan gave several post-verdict interviews in which he recounted the legal standards that were utilized during deliberations to enable the jury to reach a verdict. See Estrich Decl., Exs. L, M, N, O. These statements, however, all pertain to what occurred during jury deliberations, or to the jurors' mental processes - evidence specifically barred by Rule 606(b). Samsung does not argue that Mr. Hogan introduced any outside knowledge specific to the facts of this case. Even if the standards related by Mr. Hogan were completely erroneous, those statements would still be barred by Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) and cannot be considered in deciding whether to hold an evidentiary hearing. Stacey, 475 F.2d at 1121 ("After a verdict is returned a juror will not be heard to impeach the verdict when his testimony concerns his misunderstanding of the court's instructions"); Hard II, 870 F.2d at 1461 (court must decide whether to hold hearing "[l]ooking only at affidavits and testimony admissible under Rule 606(b)")."

Finally, the district court concluded that the integrity of the jury system and Fed.R.Evid. 606(b) precluded the district court from considering the jury foreperson's statements. "In sum, the integrity of the jury system and the Federal Rules of Evidence demand that the Court not consider Mr. Hogan's post-verdict statements concerning the jury's decision-making process. None of the cases Samsung cites suggests otherwise. Because the Court cannot consider these inadmissible statements in determining whether to hold an evidentiary hearing, there is no evidence properly before the Court to require such a hearing. Instead, the Court must apply the well established presumption that the jury followed the law. See Caudle, 224 F.3d at 1023."

Accordingly, the district court denied Samsung's motion for a new trial.

Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., LTD., Case No. 11-CV-01846-LHK (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2012)

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.