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Case: McDonough Power Equipment v. Greenwood (1984) [App.

141]

Facts: Greenwood sued on a tort action to recover damages after he was injured
by a blade of a lawn mower manufactured by McDonough. During voir dire, the jurors
where asked whether them or anyone in immediate family has suffered a similar
accident that resulted in a disability or prolonged pain and suffering. Payton,
one juror, did not respond to this (it was asked to all jurors). Verdict found
for Greenwood. McDonough then found out Payton's son was injured by a tire
explosion, and this had not been revealed during voir dire. McDonough filed a
motion for a new trial, and Court denied it, b/c Payton's non-disclosure didn’t
warrant it.

Issue: Whether the juror's nondisclosure during voir dire warranted a new trial.

Reasoning:
○ Court weighs in efficiency with justice when determining whether to grant
a new trial.
§ You want a fair trial, with an unbiased jury, and that's what voir
dire is meant to do.
○ Payton's nondisclosure was made in good faith:
§ He didn’t think his sons injuries had resulted in a disability or
prolonged pain or suffering
§ Jurors are not experts in language. What they understand can be
interpreted differently by courts and lawyers.
○ To invalidate a verdict based on a juror making an honest mistake, doesn’t
really make sense. Must weigh this with efficiency.
○ Court concludes that to hold a new trial in this situation (when there's
been a full trial & verdict), a party must first demonstrate that juror failed to
answer honestly a material question on voir dire, and then further show that a
correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause.
§ Also notes that although juror may have various motives for
concealing info, but only those reasons that affects a juror's impartiality can be
said to affect the fairness of trial.
○ Remanded back to district court for them to decide whether a new trial is
warranted under the principles stated here.

Concurring opinion:
○ Says honesty or dishonesty shouldn’t matter, but only if the juror was
biased.

Class Notes:
McDonough v. Greenwood
○ Facts: Greenwood injured by McDonough. P's lawyer asked venearment - asks
juror if they or any family member had suffered severe injury. If juror said yes,
P would prob want to keep him.
○ (bad ethically) post-trial they interviewed the jurors, and found out one
of jurors was badly injured. On appeal, they asked whether the right to
peremptories was impaired. And said yes it was, b/c if juror had answered question
correctly, it would have been diff. That theory gets no votes on supreme court.
Partly b/c peremptory in general have less weight (not a constitutional cause),
but only use to diversify the factfinder.
○ Majority Held that if a party wants to avail on a misstatement, has to
demonstrate that;
1. Juror did not answer honestly (that he was deliberately lying) and
1) If it was an honest mistake, then doesn’t count
2. That if he didn’t answer honestly, that it would be a challenge for
cause
○ Brennan & Marshall say he need only show that answer was incorrect and
juror was biased
○ Found that it was an honest mistake, so first part of test not met, even
if there is a bias
○ Biased doesn’t mean challenge for cause, here they mean having attitudes
opposed to your case (peremptory)
State action - where peremptory challenges are prohibited - like striking all
black jurors