Tanner v. United States

483 U.S. 107 (1987)

Facts

Tanner and Conover (D) were both convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and of committing mail fraud. Just prior to their sentencing hearing D filed a motion seeking permission to interview the jurors, an evidentiary hearing, and a new trial. D's attorney had received an unsolicited phone call from one of the jurors that several of the jurors had consumed alcohol during the lunch breaks causing them to sleep through the afternoon. The District Court determined that the juror testimony was inadmissible and invited D to call for nonjuror witnesses in support of the motion. D's counsel took the stand and testified about the giggly mood that one of the jurors was in during the trial. The motion to interview was denied, and so was the motion for a new trial. Despite the court order not to interview jurors, D's attorney, while home, got a visit from a second juror and then subsequently arranged to have him interviewed by two P.Is. That interview was transcribed and sworn to by the juror and attached to a new trial motion. The evidence indicated that seven of the jurors drank alcohol during the noon recess and that indications were that the quantities were more than enough to become drunk. There was also evidence that four jurors smoked marijuana quite regularly during the trial, at least one juror did cocaine, that many of the jurors were falling asleep, and many were high from drug and alcohol ingestion. A new petition for a new trial was denied. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.