April 27, 1995
Digest: The writing of letters to jurors thanking them for their service does not violate ethical standards, but the judge should not praise or criticize the jurors for their verdict.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.2(a)
A full-time judge informs the Committee that over the years he/she has “had the practice of writing letters to my jurors upon completion of a case, thanking them for their service and soliciting their comments regarding their jury service.” The judge asks whether this Committee has forbidden such practice and therefore whether he/she should cease sending such letters.
In Opinion 90-93, Vol. VI, the Committee did advise that a judge’s re-election campaign committee may not contact jurors who had served in cases in which the judge presided, and that the judge should not initiate interviews with jurors after their verdict for the purpose of determining bias or duress.
The facts, as presented by the inquirer, do not fall within either category. Thus, the judge may thank the jurors for their service but should not praise or criticize them for their verdict. Accordingly, the practice of writing letters to the jurors expressing the court’s thanks for their service does not violate any ethical standards.