Should the identities of jurors become public?
Wed, 26 Oct 2011 14:49:58 GMT —
S hould the identities of jurors be confidential or does the public have a right to know?
In Florida, the Pinellas County Clerk of Court released the names of the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial after a three month "cooling off" period ordered by Judge Belvin Perry. The acquittal of Casey Anthony for the alleged murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee sparked outrage among many people who followed the controversial trial.
Judge Perry ordered the cooling off period saying he wanted time to pass before the names were made public because some of the jurors had received death threats. The jurors were selected from Pinellas County along Florida's Gulf coast because of concerns about pretrial publicity in Orlando where the trial was held.. The jurors were also sequestered until the verdict was announced.
After the names and addresses became public, reporters arrived at the jurors homes but so far none have talked about the verdict.
In New York State, the identities of jurors are considered confidential. David Bookstaver of the Unified Court System told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that " the law does not permit us to release the names." He added that that "we go to great lengths to protect the identities of jurors."
Onondaga County Commissioner of Jurors, Sidney Oglesby says the only way he would release the names of jurors is by order of the Appellate Court. The law does allow for a person to petition the Appellate Division to release the identities of jurors.
In reality, the names of jurors routinely become public during the jury selection process which is open to the public. As such, the juror identities become part of the court record. Oglesby said, "There's no question about it. There are alternative ways to get this information and people do."
Robert Freeman, Excecutive Director of the Committee on Open Government points out that the courts are not subject to the Freedom of Information Law. He says Newsday tried in 1987 to overturn the confidentiality requirement, but the courts ruled against the newspaper.
Download an official Juror Qualification Questionnaire for Onondaga County.