Evidence – Admissibility – Extent to Which Juror’s Affidavit May Be Used to Impeach Verdict

Defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree and made a motion for a new trial on the basis of a juror’s affidavit which asserted that the jury had been divided eight to four in favor of life imprisonment over the death sentence, that subsequently several jurors introduced into the deliberations the fact that the defendant had been charged, in another indictment, with assault with intent to kill, that this became a part of the jury’s deliberation, and that, as a result, the jury did not recommend life imprisonment and, instead, the death sentence was imposed. On appeal, held, motion for new trial granted, three justices dissenting. The affidavit was not admissible to show the effect of the jury’s misconduct, but was admissible to show the existence of misconduct. The existence of such misconduct was sufficient grounds for granting the motion. State v. Kociolek, (N.J. 1955) 118 A. (2d) 812.