CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Penn SC Rules that the First Amendment Requires Access to Jury Names

From Reaffirming the long tradition of making public the names of jurors, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the First Amendment required access to juror identities in most cases - but not their addresses.

"Disclosing jurors' names furthers the objective of a fair trial to the defendant and gives assurances of fairness to society as a whole," Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy wrote in a 20-page opinion.

The 5-0 decision came in a case that focused on the 2003 western Pennsylvania murder trial of a podiatrist accused of suffocating his wife.

The Westmoreland County trial judge withheld the names of jurors. The state Superior Court upheld that ruling, and two Pittsburgh news organizations appealed to the state's highest court.

What to do about juror identities is an issue of growing importance to judges nationwide as more high-profile trials play out on cable and network television - often with jurors interviewed as soon as the verdict is in.

Some judges have tried to shield jurors from media inquiries, worrying that jurors might feel harassed or that comments made by jurors in interviews might become issues on appeal. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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So, according to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (pdf), the First Amendment to the US Constitution requires public disclosure of jurors names (Concurring Opinions | CrimProf Blog; see generally Raskopf 17 Pepp L Rev 357 (1990); Litt 25 Colum J L ... [Read More]

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