Casey Anthony trial: Jurors Information public or private?Posted: July 31, 2011
The Casey Anthony trial has given us yet another opportunity to look at our justice system. This time it involves you and me. Serving as a juror has become unattractive enough when we are “out of pocket” for time, parking and lunch costs without having to consider our privacy, so I ask you, should the court keep our name and contact info secret when we serve as jurors?
Casey Anthony’s judge weighed in on this very issue. Although Florida law makes jurors info public, Judge Perry decided to withhold the jurors’ names and addresses until Oct 25 to allow for the public to cool off and the jurors to regroup. Maybe, a wise decision. No doubt the Casey Anthony acquittal has left many unanswered questions and who better to ask than the jurors about their decision to acquit. But, do we have a right to call them up or visit them at their home or work? What about their right to privacy? Do we lose our right to privacy when we show up for jury duty? But, don’t we have a right to know what goes on in our courtrooms and whether justice has been served?
In Voir Dire (jury selection), will we start to hear jurors say something like, “not me, will this be like Casey Anthony? I don’t want to be bothered” The Casey Anthony trial has left many with the perception that jury service leads to being harassed or bothered yet in my experience it has been a rare occurrence. Maybe, some will be scared off from serving as jurors. Jury service isn’t an “opt-in opt-out” system, we are summoned to jury service. Will we think twice about serving as a juror? How will justice be impacted? Will we have a jury of “our peers”?
What about the media’s first amendment right to access court proceedings and jury selection? There is no question attorneys have an interest in the info when dealing with matters of jury tampering, misconduct or even for appeal. But, how do you feel about the media showing up at your home or workplace waiting to ask you the why or the what? What about getting a call from a publisher wanting you to write a tell-all book? Well, maybe in this economy, even I would take the publishers call. But, will this attract jurors looking for a payday? Again, how will this impact justice?
In Florida and in some other jurisdictions, your info is public record unless you have a Judge Perry who thinks otherwise, temporarily at least. Even he is speaking up and asking the Florida legislature to weigh in and to prohibit the release of jurors’ info in “high-profile” cases. Yet, sometimes, we don’t know if a case is high-profile until we are in it. And, sometimes, we don’t know the potential impact on the jurors until the verdict is read. How do we balance our right to know vs. the juror’s right to privacy? These are hard questions but maybe, we can thank the Casey Anthony trial for putting it on our radar.
WHAT SAY YOU?