Keeping jurors names from the public

July 19, 2010
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When is it appropriate to delay the release of juror’s names in a trial? That’s an issue that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped last week on an appeal of the decision of the District judge in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial to keep confidential the names of the jurors until after the trial is finished, which could take months. The jurors were selected at the beginning of June.

Several news organizations wanted the jurors’ names so they could investigate and run stories on them. The District judge feared releasing their names would undermine impartiality and discourage others from serving in the future. The District judge also worried the jurors would be bombarded by e-mails and other communication during the trial if their names were released. He had been contacted several times about the case, even by a random person from off the street.

Sequestering jurors would probably solve the problem of unwanted contact, but is it fair to sequester people for months?

The District judge decided to not to release jurors’ names without evidence or holding a hearing. To complicate matters, he promised the seated jurors their names wouldn’t be released until after the trial ended. The press argued it’s a First Amendment issue – the right to access.

Instead of ruling on the matter, the 7th Circuit ordered the District judge to hold proceedings consistent with the opinion, and to keep the names confidential until a decision has been made.

When should a judge make the decision to keep jurors’ names from the public? Should jurors involved in high-profile cases remain anonymous until the end, always, or never?

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  2. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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