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. Is this a social parallel to the Mosby prosecutions in Baltimore? Progressive ideology ever seeks Pilgrims to burn at the stake. (I should know.)

  2. The Conour embarrassment is an example of why it would be a good idea to NOT name public buildings or to erect monuments to "worthy" people until AFTER they have been dead three years, at least. And we also need to stop naming federal buildings and roads after a worthless politician whose only achievement was getting elected multiple times (like a certain Congressman after whom we renamed the largest post office in the state). Also, why have we renamed BOTH the Center Township government center AND the new bus terminal/bum hangout after Julia Carson?

  3. Other than a complete lack of any verifiable and valid historical citations to back your wild context-free accusations, you also forget to allege "ate Native American children, ate slave children, ate their own children, and often did it all while using salad forks rather than dinner forks." (gasp)

  4. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  5. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

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