A survey of the law

The United States Supreme Court has recognized a First Amendment right of access to criminal trials and jury selection. Press Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (Press Enterprise I), 464 U.S. 501 (1984) (right of access to jury selection); Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555 (1980) (right of access to criminal trials). These cases arguably create a presumption that courts cannot arbitrarily choose a secret jury.

Most courts, both state and federal, allow anonymous juries in exceptional cases, and they generally follow the same standards for determining anonymity in a particular case. Courts generally permit an anonymous jury if a strong argument exists to protect the safety of the jurors, or if doing so more easily enables the jury to perform its fact finding function and if the court attempts to minimize the risk of infringing on a criminal defendant's rights.

If a court empanels an anonymous jury, the court must still allow a thorough voir dire -- the process in which attorneys question them -- to uncover a juror's biases and must provide the jury with a neutral, non-prejudicial reason for their anonymity. Within these parameters, the trial court has discretion to empanel an anonymous jury.

Most courts base 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.

A minority of jurisdictions say that anonymous juries should be used only in cases where (1) there are persons who participated in large-scale organized crime and who participated in mob-style killings and had previously attempted to interfere with the judicial process, (2) defendants had a history of jury tampering and serious criminal records, or (3) there are allegations of dangerous and unscrupulous conduct by the defendant, coupled with extensive pretrial publicity.

We have compiled some cases and statutes discussing the use of anonymous juries to aid lawyers or journalists in researching the issue. The following list is not comprehensive. We have selected case that are prominent, frequently cited or otherwise notable.

With respect to state statutes, we have only selected the statutes that are frequently cited or that were adopted from the Uniform Jury Selection and Service Act. Other states may have statutes or local rules that govern the release of juror information. Many states that have adopted the uniform act grant discretion to a judge to have an anonymous jury only after a hearing and a showing of need. The lack of a hearing is a good basis to challenge an arbitrarily imposed anonymous jury.

Federal Courts:

The Jury Selection and Service Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1861 et seq., was passed by Congress to allow federal district courts some discretion in releasing juror information. Each district may have adopted a local rule that interprets the act in its district. The District of Connecticut, for example, prohibits the release of juror information. See D. Conn. R. 12(f)(2).

First Circuit

U.S. v. Collazo-Aponte, 216 F.3d 163 (1st Cir. 2000) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. Marrero-Ortiz, 160 F.3d 768 (1st Cir. 1998) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. DeLuca, 137 F.3d 24 (1st Cir. 1997) (allowed anonymous jury)

In re Globe Newspaper Co., 920 F.2d 88 (1st Cir. 1990) (finding that federal Jury Selection and Service Act as adopted by the District of Massachusetts required disclosure of jurors name and addresses)

Second Circuit

This circuit has addressed the issue more often than any other perhaps because many of the criminal defendants are alleged drug kingpins or mafia figures. The two most frequently cited cases are:

U.S. v. Paccione, 949 F.2d 1183 (2d Cir. 1991) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. Barnes, 604 F.2d 121 (2d Cir. 1979) (first case in the U.S. to allow a fully anonymous jury)

Third Circuit

U.S. v. Thornton, 1 F.3d 149 (3d Cir. 1993) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. Scarfo, 850 F.2d 1015 (3d Cir. 1988) (allowed anonymous jury)

Fourth Circuit

There are no cases in the Fourth Circuit that specifically authorize or reject the use of anonymous juries. However, In re Baltimore Sun Co., 841 F.2d 74 (4th Cir. 1988), addressed the issue of whether jury lists were part of the public court record. The Fourth Circuit ordered the release of juror names to the newspaper, finding that juror names were part of the public record. However, the court specifically noted that it was not a case involving a real threat of violence or corruption, citing the Barnes case from the Second Circuit and implying that it might uphold an anonymous jury if there were a threat of juror safety.

Fifth Circuit

U.S. v. Salvatore, 110 F.3d 1131 (5th Cir. 1997) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. Sanchez, 74 F.3d 562 (5th Cir. 1996) (struck down anonymous jury because there were no factors that would justify it)

U.S. v. Kraut, 66 F.3d 1420 (5th Cir. 1995) (allowed anonymous jury)

Sixth Circuit

U.S. v. Talley, 164 F.3d 989 (6th Cir. 1999) (allowed anonymous jury)

Seventh Circuit

U.S. v. Crockett, 979 F.2d 1204 (7th Cir. 1992) (allowed anonymous jury)

Eighth Circuit

U.S. v. Darden, 70 F.3d 1507 (8th Cir. 1995) (allowed anonymous jury)

Ninth Circuit

The Unabom Trial Media Coalition v. U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern District of California, 183 F.3d 949 (9th Cir. 1999) (implicitly authorized the use of anonymous jury, but issue became moot when defendant pleaded guilty)

Johnson v. U.S., 270 F.2d 721 (9th Cir. 1959) (it was not erroneous to withhold the exact address of jurors)

Hamer v. U.S., 259 F.2d 274 (9th Cir. 1958) (local rule requires providing defendant with names and addresses of jurors only in capital cases, but no requirement they be provided in non-capital cases)

Tenth Circuit

There are no cases in the Tenth Circuit that specifically authorize or reject the use of anonymous juries.

Eleventh Circuit

U.S. v. Ross, 33 F.3d 1507 (11th Cir. 1994) (allowed anonymous jury)

DC Circuit

U.S. v. Wilson, 160 F.3d 732 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (allowed anonymous jury)

U.S. v. Edmond, 52 F.3d 1080 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (allowed anonymous jury)

State Courts:


California Code of Civil Procedure § 237 (allowing juror information to be sealed in criminal cases and making it a misdemeanor to improperly obtain or release sealed juror information)

People v. Goodwin, 69 Cal. Rptr. 2d 576 (Cal. App. 1997) (finding that an anonymous jury would be constitutional in certain circumstances, but finding that "the jury was not anonymous, as the court and counsel had available to them a documents identifying jurors by name" even though juror names were never read into court's record)

Erickson v. Superior Court, 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 230 (Cal. App. 1997) (local court policy of using anonymous juries in all civil and criminal trials was invalid)


Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-71-110(5) (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


10 Del. C. § 4513 (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)

Gannett Co., Inc. v. State of Delaware, 571 A.2d 735 (Del. 1990) (finding that newspaper does not have a First Amendment right to names of jurors)


Haw. Rev. Stat. § 612-18 & 27 (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)

State v. Villeza, 942 P.2d 522 (Hawaii 1997) (allowed court to redact addresses and phone numbers from juror information forms)

State v. Samonte, 928 P.2d 1 (Hawaii 1996) (allowed redaction of names, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers)


Id. Code § 2-210(5) (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


Ind. Code Ann. § 33-4-5.5-12(6) (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1254-A (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


Md. Code Ann. § 8-202(3) (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


Commonwealth v. Angiulo, 615 N.E.2d 155 (Mass. 1993) (reversing a conviction and remanding case for new trial because court improperly used an anonymous jury; state statute requires that defendants in capital cases be given a list of jurors; court discusses when an anonymous jury might possibly be permissible)

Commonwealth v. DuPont, 1998 Mass. Super. LEXIS 476 (1998) (ordering new trial because there was no sufficient justification for an anonymous jury)


People v. Williams, 616 N.W.2d 710 (Mich. App. 2000) (finding there was no prejudice in using numbers for jurors rather than their names)


Minn. Stat. Ann. § 593.42-5 (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)

State v. Bowles, 530 N.W.2d 521 (Minn. 1995) (allowed anonymous jury)


Miss. Code Ann. § 13-5-32 (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)

Valentine v. State, 396 So.2d 15 (1981) (jurors' names should be kept secret only in exceptional circumstances)

New Jersey

State v. Accetturo, 619 A.2d 272 (N.J. Super. 1992) (denied motion for an anonymous jury because there is no state law that would authorize it and because there is no evidence that defendants would attempt to tamper with the jury)

New York

People v. Watts, 661 N.Y.S.2d 768 (NY App. 1997) (denying motion for anonymous jury because state law required that juror names be available and because state failed to show that defendant tampered with, or planned to tamper with, the jury)

North Dakota

N.D. Code § 27-09.1 (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


State v. Hill, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 2557 (Ohio App. 2000) (Trial court decision to use an anonymous jury was a structural error where the trial court did not inquire into any specific factors that would justify use of an anonymous jury) (currently on appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court)


Utah Code Ann. § 78-46-13(5) (granting discretion to trial court in whether to release jurors' names)


State v. Castanon, 2000 Wisc. App. LEXIS 481 (Wisc. App. 2000) (allowing anonymous jury where victim posed a threat to the jury) (unpublished opinion)

State v. Britt, 553 N.W.2d 528 (Wisc. App. 1996) (allowing anonymous jury)