Brief Fact Summary. Petitioner No. 1, Conover (“petitioner No. 1”), used his position as Seminole Electric Cooperative’s procurement manager to help his friend, petitioner No. 2, Tanner (“petitioner No. 2”), obtain a bid for a construction project for which a loan had been guaranteed by an agency of the United States. After petitioner No. 1 and petitioner No. 2 were convicted, two jurors came forward and revealed rampant drug and alcohol use by the jury during the trial and deliberations.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Federal Rules of Evidence (“F.R.E.) Rule 606(b), prohibits the impeachment of a verdict with a juror’s testimony except where there is question as to whether any outside influence was brought to bear on any juror.
Issue. Was the District Court required to hold an evidentiary hearing including juror testimony on juror drug and alcohol use during the trial?
Did Seminole’s petitioner No. 2’s actions constitute a conspiracy to defraud the United States within the meaning of 18 USC Section: 371?
Held. The District Court did not err in refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing at which jurors would testify on juror alcohol and drug use during the trial.
The argument that Seminole, as a recipient of federal financial assistance and supervision must be treated as “the United States” under 18 USC Section: 371 is untenable.
It is not at all clear, however, that the jury system could survive such efforts to perfect it.View Full Point of Law
Petitioner’s Sixth Amendment constitutional right to a fair trial in front of a fair and impartial jury is protected by procedurals safeguards such as voir dire, non-juror testimony, and juror observability by court personnel.
A conspiracy to defraud the United States may be effected by the use of third parties, but merely being the recipient of federal financial assistance does not allow a private entity to be treated as “the United States” for purposes of 18 USC Section: 371, as the statute would have little meaning if applied so broadl.