The world learned a number of details about the recently announced 12 jury former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Guilty of murder By George Floyd.
they were Ethnically diverse A group – six white Americans, four black Americans, and two mixed-race Americans – including a dog lover, an athlete fan, one parent, an insurance agent, a nurse and a retired. But one thing remains a mystery: their names.
Anonymous juries are still rare, representing only about a dozen years out of more than 100,000 jury trials nationwide. But with the rise of social media and the ease of searching the Internet, concerns about jury safety can lead to this More anonymous juries, A shift that some legal scholars have said may jeopardize the transparent nature of the legal system.
“It’s been a slow, steady march toward this,” said Greg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment Clinic, “and if at the end no one knows who is on the jury, people might lose faith in the system and see it as an anonymous device” at Arizona State University Law School in Phoenix. “Protecting privacy on an inclusive basis would undermine the idea of an open and accountable society.”
In all court cases, jury information is presumed public unless the government can bring a case otherwise. Judges usually keep jury names anonymous if they could face physical abuse, intimidation, or unnecessary media attention. Recent decisions to force anonymous juries include the upcoming racketeering and sex trafficking trial of singer R Kelly, as well as the 2019 trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Chauvin’s trial came nearly a year after Floyd’s death, when Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes during a confrontation sparked by an alleged $ 20 fake bill. The event sparked nationwide protests and the social justice movement which continues to push for police reform and racial equality.
Given the spotlight of the trial, Judge Peter Cahill decided it was best to keep the names of potential jurors unknown.
“There are good reasons to believe that there are threats to the safety and impartiality of jurors,” Cahill wrote in his decision last fall.
Instead, he revealed race and age by a decade to juries and three alternates. Live television coverage of the trial ensured that the live broadcast reached the media and the public See sayThe exposing process in which attorneys on both sides question potential jurors to determine their suitability to fairly rule the case.
So far, no lead jury has come forward to discuss the case publicly, and Cahill said he will keep their names secret at least during the trial of the three other officers who were present when Floyd was killed this summer. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three counts – second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.
More trials involve jurors whose names have not been revealed
The cuts in the press mean there are fewer reporters to cover the trials and possibly file protests over an unnamed jury, said Leslie, of Arizona State University. He added that the presence of bloggers and others not affiliated with the main media increases the chances of jury names being published by those without ethical standards.
Another issue of widespread concern to the justice system is the need for more people of color on juries, which anonymity cloak may work against its promotion, said James Coleman, director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility at Duke University School of Law at Duke University. Durham, North Carolina. While the judge at Chauven’s trial agreed to provide details of the jurors’ ethnicity, this is not always the case.
“It is important that juries are identified because society needs to know who participated in jury deliberations,” Coleman said. “We need to know the jury’s experiences and whether some trials are excluded.”
In cases where the behavior of a police officer is involved, Coleman added, “you often find that some attorneys will remove blacks from the jury or limit them to one or two people, so they are negative when compared to ten white jurors.”
Notably, the Chauvin jury was more ethnically diverse than Hennepin County and Minneapolis. Coleman said a clearly mixed jury can send a signal to communities of color that they should not shy away from participating as a jury.
“To be confident that the trial will be fair, you need to know that juries include different types of people,” he said.
But does this mean that their names should be mentioned? Some experts argue that the safety provided by anonymity helps ensure a fair trial, freeing jurors from the fear that the decision will return to haunt them.
In a paper published in 1998 titled “The Effects of Jury Anonymity on Jury Verdicts,” psychologists Lynn Hazelwood and John Brigham devised an experiment with students that found a higher conviction rate (70%) with anonymous juries compared to specific juries (40%). ). Also, the anonymous jurors in the trial “imposed the harsh penalty (of expulsion) more often than the anonymous jurors.”
In a 2018 research paper titled “Jury (Revised): The Rise and Effects of Anonymous Juries,” Cornell Law School student Leonardo Mangat argues that although it is “not without its merits, anonymous juries raise questions about The accused’s presumption of innocence “and the public’s right to a public trial.” Mangat is now a clerk on the California Supreme Court.
There is another potential bias implicit in granting the jury anonymity, Valerie Hans, a law professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and former school of Mangat, said there was another potential bias implicit in granting the jury anonymity.
“You don’t have to convey to the jury that the defendant is so dangerous that you need protection,” she said.
Other tools can be used to give the jury a sense of security, Hans said, including TV broadcasts of the proceedings, as was the case in the Chauvin trial.
“When it is shown on TV like this, it appears to be easily accessible while you are in the audience watching and hearing the same things that a jury has, which can defuse negative attitudes toward jurors,” she said. “But having said that, there are definitely issues that require juror security.”
The identity of the drug juror begins
By most accounts, the first trial in which a judge ruled to keep the jury anonymous was the 1977 New York drug and organized crime case centered around Leroy “Nicky” Barnes, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., in the 2007 film “The American Gangster.”
After Barnes and others were convicted, the case was appealed in 1979 on the grounds that the judge’s jury decision was unconstitutional. But the appeals court refused, citing “the dirty history of attempts to influence witnesses and jurors in such cases.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge James Ochs wrote the ruling that created a “completely new rule of law” and expected that judges would soon follow this precedent just like “a flock of seagulls follows a lobster boat.”
Soon some did. The 1991 trial of mob boss John Gotti involved an anonymous jury, as did the OJ Simpson trial in 1995. In some cases, safety concerns on the part of jurors after the verdict seemed appropriate.
In the 1992 trial of four police officers who beat Rodney King in Los Angeles, an acquittal decision by a white jury resulted in threats as part of the city that erupted into riots and uprisings. Some jurors, who were later identified in some media accounts, moved away from Los Angeles.
After a Florida jury voted Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2011, stores in Orlando posted signs telling the jurors, whose names were stamped by the court.And the You are not welcome. One juror fled the state.
First amendment versus jury safety
While cases where a judge decides to keep juries anonymous has increased compared to past decades, “It is still very difficult to grant this because most judges think about the interests they are trying to protect,” said Paula Hanaford Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center. For state courts in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“The tension in this entire debate is due to First Amendment rights, the transparency of the system, and the defendant’s right to a fair trial with a jury that does not feel under any pressure,” said Hanaford Agor, who said. States have judges who are more likely to remain anonymous than others.
Attorney John Boris, who was part of King’s legal team during his successful civil lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, said he is “not bothered” by the idea of an anonymous jury “because that often allows jurors to make a decision that they feel appropriate. A sense of integrity and peace of mind which is important. “
In the days of the king’s trial, Boris, who still does business in Oakland, California, said there were no jury questionnaires and the attorneys had to gather all the information they could get during courtroom interviews with jury members.
Given that a judge can sometimes protect jurors’ names even from attorneys on both sides, Boris said the emergence of multiple-question forms for jurors removes the previously pressing need to know the juror’s name so legal teams can scrutinize their biases.
He said, “In these questionnaires, we try to ask what we can, and what shows they watch, and their thoughts on weapons, drugs and mental illnesses, to see how they process this information.” “So, is there a conflict, when I sometimes know the name of the juror but the general public I don’t know? I think it’s okay. We don’t want to infringe on people’s privacy in a way that hinders the judicial process.”
The biggest flaw in the legal system at the moment, Boris said, is the jury, which is not representative of a broad segment of the population at large. While everyone called to serve on a jury must comply under the sanction of the law, those who are uninterested in serving often find ways to convince attorneys that they are not worthy of choice. Boris said his identity was not disclosedWhen appropriate, it may encourage particularly colored jurors who may be concerned about the public’s reaction to the fiery verdict.
He said, “Let’s be realistic, this case could be a juror of concern.” “Los Angeles has been torn apart by the king’s rule, so it all depends on how it goes.”
Despite concerns expressed about jury safety in high-profile trials, cases in which jurors are seriously harmed after trial by the public or the co-defendants are still rare. Given this, Arizona State University legal expert Leslie said, the burden of proof for mandating an anonymous jury should remain unusually high.
He said, “To say that today we can identify people more easily, and thus juries must be secret, sends the wrong signal about our justice system, which must remain open and trusted.” “And in those rare cases when it is justified, the court is obligated to disclose as much information about the jury as possible so that the public can trust that this is a jury of their peers.”