Misconduct by Jurors and other Judicial Actors – Penal Code Section 96

Jurors and other individuals included in the decision making process of court cases may be severely punished for corruption. Penal Code Section 96 covers the following individuals:

• Jurors
• Arbitrators1
• Umpires
• Referees

Section 96 states that it is illegal to do the following acts of corruption:

• You may not agree or promise in advance to render a verdict in favor of, or against, any party.

• You may not intentionally and knowingly receive any communication or literature of any kind that relates directly to the court case you have been asked to decide. The statute states that you must have a “corrupt” intention in receiving the communication or literature, however. In other words, the unauthorized communication must be received with the intent to alter the course of the case you are hearing.

Punishment under Section 96:

• A fine not to exceed $10,000;

• A felony conviction and a local prison sentence of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years which shall be served in a county jail facility.2

Sources Cited:

(1) Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution.  It is far less expensive than undergoing the costs of a full blown juror trial.  See Gunderson v. Superior Court (1975) 46 Cal.App.3d 138.  An arbitrator take the place of a judge and a jury in applying the facts to the law and rendering a decision.
(2) Penal Code Section 1170(h).

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