B. Anonymous juries

Overview

“Most federal and state courts which have addressed this issue have articulated a limited or qualified right” to juror names and addresses, “premised on the Press-Enterprise rationale that openness in all aspects of our justice system promotes fairness to litigants and promotes public faith in our jurisprudence.” In re Disclosure of Juror Names and Addresses, 592 N.W.2d 798, 799 (Mich. App. 1999). Thus, the In re Globe Newspaper Co., 920 F.2d 88, 94 (1st Cir. 1990) court found that “[k]nowledge of juror identities allows the public to verify the impartiality of key participants in the administration of justice, and thereby ensures fairness, the appearance of fairness and public confidence in that system.” And the court in U.S. v. Wecht, 537 F.3d 222, 239-40 (3rd Cir. 2008) found that “a presumption of openness exists at the latest at the time of the swearing and empanelment of the jury” and added that although press coverage during trial “might make some jurors less willing to serve or more distracted from the case, this is a necessary cost of the openness of the judicial process.”

In addition, the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968, 28 U.S.C. Section 1863(b)(7), provides for the disclosure of juror names once the jurors have been summoned and either appeared or failed to appear, unless secrecy is in the “interest of justice.” The First Circuit interpreted “interest of justice” narrowly, as “a finding of exceptional circumstances peculiar to the case” such as “a credible threat of jury tampering, a risk of personal harm to individual jurors, and other evils affecting the administration of justice, but [not] the mere personal preferences or views of the judge or jurors.” In re Globe Newspaper Co., 920 F.2d 88, 97 (1st Cir. 1990).

Most federal appellate courts have based the decision for an anonymous jury on some combination of the following five factors: (1) the defendant’s involvement in organized crime; (2) the defendant’s participation in a group with the capacity to harm jurors; (3) the defendant’s past attempts to interfere with the judicial process; (4) the potential that the defendant will get a long jail sentence or substantial fines if convicted; and (5) extensive publicity that could expose jurors to intimidation or harassment. See, e.g., U.S. v. Sanchez, 74 F.3d 562, 564 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing cases).

6th Cir.