MICHAEL K. RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
interest of justice, this Court "may suspend the
requirements or provisions of any of these rules in a
particular case . . . on its own motion and may order
proceedings in accordance with its direction." M.R.A.P.
2(c). On its own motion, this Court stays this appeal pending
further order of this Court and issues this order of
filed a Supplemental Motion for New Trial or for Relief from
Judgment under Rule 60(b), for a Post-Trial Hearing to
Investigate Possible Outside Influences on the Jury, and for
Other Relief. Subsequently, Hyundai filed a Supplemental
Submission in support of its motion, "seeking targeted
discovery, an investigation, and such further relief as may
be proper with respect to improper outside influence on the
jury in this case." Finally, Hyundai filed its Second
Supplemental Submission in support of its motion, seeking, at
a minimum, the production of telephone records and targeted
depositions. We have examined the motions and plaintiffs'
responses to all three, and find that the trial court erred
in denying Hyundai's motions and remand this case for
discovery and investigation, and a full and complete hearing
to determine if "extraneous prejudicial information was
improperly brought to the jury's attention" or if
"an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on
any juror." M.R.E. 606(b)(2).
remand, the parties are entitled to conduct discovery and
depositions as provided in Chapter 5 of the Mississippi Rules
of Civil Procedure, Rules 26 through 37, and to obtain and
issue subpoenas pursuant to Rule 45 as part of their
investigation. The trial court is instructed to allow full
discovery and a complete investigation of any outside
influences which may have brought "a taint of
unfairness, real or perceived, to the pre-trial
proceedings." Hunter v. General Motors Corp.,
729 So.2d 1264, 1279 (Miss. 1999). The trial court is also
instructed to conduct a hearing once discovery and an
investigation have been completed pursuant to Rule 606(b) of
the Mississippi Rules of Evidence.
THEREFORE ORDERED that this appeal is stayed pending further
order of this Court.
FURTHER ORDERED that the trial court's denial of
Hyundai's Supplemental Motions for New Trial or for
Relief from Judgment under Rule 60(b), for a Post-Trial
Hearing to Investigate Possible Outside Influences on the
Jury, and for Other Relief is vacated.
FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are entitled to conduct
discovery and depositions as provided in Chapter 5 of the
Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 26 through 37,
and to obtain and issue subpoenas pursuant to Rule 45 as part
of their investigation. The trial court is instructed to
conduct a hearing once discovery and an investigation have
been completed pursuant to Rule 606(b) of the Mississippi
Rules of Evidence. The trial court is then directed to
certify a supplemental record on appeal in this appeal and
file it with the clerk of this Court.
WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., BEAM AND ISHEE, JJ.
PARTICIPATING: MAXWELL AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.
COLEMAN, JUSTICE, JOINS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN STATEMENT.
One cannot overstate the essential nature of jury integrity.
Maintaining the integrity of the jury panel is paramount,
foundational, and critical to the American system of justice.
Accordingly, I join in today's order finding that the
trial judge erred by not allowing Hyundai to conduct
additional discovery on the jury tampering issue. However, I
do so with a concern.
The Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers
to wear more than one hat. The Preamble to the Rules of
Professional Conduct begins, "A lawyer is a
representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and
a public citizen having special responsibility for the
quality of justice." It is clear enough that
investigating alleged jury tampering falls under the second
two duties. It is the effect of the Court's action today
on the first that concerns me.
Hyundai raised the alleged jury tampering in its brief on
appeal and, inter alia, asked the Court to hold the
trial court erred by refusing to allow additional discovery
on the issue. Today, we agree with Hyundai and grant the
relief it requested. However, we do so with absolute silence
as to the other assignments of error made by Hyundai on
appeal. From today's order, the parties and their
attorneys have no idea whether the verdict would otherwise
have been reversed or affirmed. The Court denies all of the
parties and their attorneys the means to valuate the
resources they will be expending on additional discovery and
a hearing in the context of the litigation in which they are
involved. For example, if the Court were to find reversible
error elsewhere, then Hyundai in consultation with its
attorneys may well decide to allocate its resources in
preparation for the new trial, if any, rather than on
deposition and discovery costs and ...