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Ernst v. Merck jurors, cont'd

Reader Chris Morrison writes:

I'm a lawyer in Florida and a daily reader of Overlawyered and Point Of Law. I find them both informative and incisive. On the payments to the Vioxx jurors (previous post), I thought you might be interested in the following citation from New York's Penal Laws, which makes it a criminal offense for parties to civil or criminal actions to pay jurors. This is the so-called "Hirschfeld's Law," with which I'm sure you're familiar. Maybe it's time for other states to follow New York's lead in this area.

NY CLS Penal � 215.22 (2005)
� 215.22. Providing a juror with a gratuity

A person is guilty of providing a juror with a gratuity when he or she, having been a party in a concluded civil or criminal action or proceeding or having been a person with regard to whom a grand jury has taken action pursuant to any subdivision of section 190.60 of the criminal procedure law (or acting on behalf of such a party or such a person), directly or indirectly confers, offers to confer or agrees to confer upon a person whom he or she knows has served as a juror in such action or proceeding or on such grand jury any benefit with intent to reward such person for such service.

Providing a juror with a gratuity is a class A misdemeanor.

Ted Frank responds: Note the critical "intent to reward such person for such service." The attorneys in question would almost certainly argue that the intent is to compensate the juror for their time and insight in participating in the phone call/conference/lecture series. (And Mealey's is likely to make a nice profit on the affair.) So I doubt that even the NY statute is enough to help here.

FWIW, ATLA's been trumpeting the public comments of the jurors in a press release. For more on the Hirschfeld affair, see OL, Sept. 24, 2004 and links therein.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.