It's Time to Let Jurors Be Anonymous

Internet age calls for better privacy protection

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 13, 2010 2:54 PM CST

(Newser) – Federal judges can give jurors anonymity, but state judges around the nation don't have that option in most cases. "For judges hearing high-profile cases, this lack of juror anonymity can present serious problems," writes law student Steve Cohen of his home state of New York. The rule raises the risk of jury tampering and intimidation, and exposes jurors to the media hordes.

"No right in the US Constitution guarantees defendants access to juror information," he writes at City Journal. Given the important work they do, it's only fair to give jurors some semblance of privacy protection in an age where the Internet makes it simple to track a person down, even with only a name to go on. "Give judges the discretion to allow anonymous juries—a power that federal judges enjoy and use responsibly."

A courtroom sketch of jurors in the Rob Blagojevich trial. Because it was a federal trial, they were given anonymity.
A courtroom sketch of jurors in the Rob Blagojevich trial. Because it was a federal trial, they were given anonymity.   (AP Photo/Verna Sadock)
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The debate back then focused on the distinction between jurors’ names and their addresses. Today, thanks to the Internet, little stands in the way of discovering a juror’s address, employer, family information, and more.
- Steven Cohen, City Journal

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