Restrictions on the release of juror information
Under Maine law, the release of information identifying the names and addresses of jurors is confidential. Any release of that information is governed by Title 14 M.R.S. §§ 1254-A and 1254-B, as well as by Public Information and Confidentiality, Me. Admin. Order JB-05-20 (as amended by A. 1-15)(effective Jan. 14, 2015), and the related Standing Order For Limited Release of Juror Information (as revised Aug. 19, 2014), both of which are available on the court’s website.
Pre-trial disclosure of juror information 14 M.R.S. § 1254-A deals with disclosure of juror information, including the questionnaires, before jurors are finally discharged from jury duty. This statute permits disclosure to attorneys for parties or unrepresented parties during the pre-trial stage of the case “at the courthouse for use in the conduct of voir dire examination.";
The juror questionnaires may be reviewed by attorneys for parties (their agents and investigators) or by unrepresented parties for voir dire purposes at the clerk’s office; however, they will NOT be given a copy of any questionnaire.
Other written juror information given to attorneys for parties (their agents and investigators) or unrepresented parties for voir dire purposes, such as the standard juror list used at the time of jury selection, must be returned to the clerk’s office at the end of the trial.
Disclosure of information after discharge
14 M.R.S. § 1254-B restricts the disclosure of juror-related information after the jurors’ period of service has expired.
A request for a list of the “finally excused” jurors must be submitted to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court in writing, “accompanied by an affidavit stating the basis for the request.” If the request is found to be “in the interest of justice,” the clerk’s office may be directed to provide a list of the names and addresses of the appropriate jurors.
The law strongly disfavors inquiry into the deliberations of juries (State v. Watts, 2006 ME 109 ¶15, 906 A.2d 147). If the court permits inquiries to be made to jurors, the person permitted to make the inquiry must make absolutely clear to the juror that, (a) the juror is not obligated to respond to counsel or answer any questions, (b) the juror is free to discuss his or her own views and participation in the jury deliberations, but (c) the juror should not be asked to comment on the specific participation or remarks by any other juror during the deliberative process.
NOTE: Jurors may refuse to respond to any such inquiries. Just because the court permits a person to make inquiries to a juror, there is no obligation on the part of the juror to talk with or communicate in any way with that person.