Virginia high court moves to seal juror information

Caitlin Dickson | Secret Courts | Feature | July 8, 2009

The Virginia Supreme Court has proposed a rule to tighten access to juror information in all criminal trials, expanding on a 2008 state law that gives courts the authority to keep juror lists secret where there is "good cause."

The proposed rule would shield jurors' identities, giving them numbers by which they would be referred to in court. It would allow judges to further restrict disclosure of personal juror information collected by the clerk's office in some cases. Virginia Beach courts have already launched a similarly restrictive policy, closing access to juror information in all cases, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government has come out against the proposed statewide rule.

Megan Rhyne, the executive director of the coalition, said in an interview that  "routinely closing off juror information is potentially unconstitutional," and interferes with the public's right to know what is happening in a trial.

The proposed rule has been tentatively approved by the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Rules of the Court. The court will receive comments from the public until Sept. 1.