Jurors liable if they find someone competent who later injures someone?
December 21, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I am an attorney assisting with the representation of an elderly man in probate court in Michigan. Certain family members of this man are trying to have the State of Michigan declare the elderly man incompetent and to appoint a guardian in probate court. The attorney for these family members has hinted to the jury that the jurors themselves could be liable later if they find the elderly man competent and do not appoint a guardian, but then he subsequently goes out and injures someone somehow.

I have found very little on whether jurors are immune from prosecution by third-parties who are injured by, e.g., criminal defendants they acquit and who subsequently commit other crimes, or by people they deem competent in a proceeding like this, but who subsequently injure someone somehow.

This may be one of those instances where it is so obvious nobody ever thought to spell it out. There are a lot of protections for jurors, but I cannot find a plain statement on this in statute, caselaw or rule to request an instruction on this. Any help would be very appreciated!
posted by click to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Jurors are protected by the common-law doctrine of judicial immunity. There's a discussion in Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 424 n.20 (U.S. 1976) collecting cases re: grand jurors' immunity. Obviously not 100% on point, but should be a very helpful starting point.
posted by ewiar at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: More on point: Intersimone v. Bell, 1980 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12804, 1980 WL 2237, at [*5] *4 (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 1980) ("It has been uniformly held that jurors are entitled to absolute immunity for damages which result from their jury service.").
posted by ewiar at 2:25 PM on December 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you ewiar!
posted by click at 2:35 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The attorney for these family members has hinted to the jury that the jurors themselves could be liable later

You may wish to consider asking for a mistrial with sanctions against the petitioners' attorney. This is outrageous, if it was as clear a "hint" as you describe.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:08 PM on December 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

If that “hint” passed without an objection, it may have been waived.

Something is off about the question and the context. The State of Michigan does not declare the person incompetent. That is a finding that the court must make. The OP’s profile shows that she lives in Oregon, not Michigan. And most experienced attorneys would know that immunity applies to jurors as well as to judges.
posted by megatherium at 1:47 PM on December 25, 2014

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