NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The judge who presided over Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial on Wednesday ordered the public release of the identities of the jurors who deadlocked in the case but warned them not to divulge what other jurors said during deliberations.
Judge Steven O’Neill granted a request by a dozen media organizations, including The Associated Press and the major TV networks, to release the names.
Court administrators revealed the identities of the 12 jurors who deliberated the case and the six alternates after relaying instructions from the judge on what they could and could not say if they spoke with reporters.
The judge declared a mistrial on Saturday after the jury deliberated for 52 hours without a verdict. Prosecutors plan to retry the 79-year-old Cosby on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby said the encounter with Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, was consensual. Lawyers for news outlets had argued that jurors’ names should be public to ensure transparency in the judicial process. Prosecutors and defense lawyers had argued they should remain secret, saying releasing them would make it more difficult to select a jury in Cosby’s second trial.
The judge cited the media’s First Amendment rights and Supreme Court precedent in ordering the release of the names. But he forbade jurors from talking about what other members of the jury said in the deliberating room or from revealing any votes cast in the case. “Any disclosure of what was said and done during deliberations in this case would give a chilling effect upon the future jurors in this case and their ability to deliberate freely,” he wrote. “Further, future jurors will be reluctant to speak up or to say what they think when deliberating if they fear that what they say during deliberations will not be kept secret.”</strong>
The Associated Press tried contacting jurors for comment Wednesday but wasn’t immediately able to reach any of them.
I don’t agree with this ruling, and hate the fact that it was framed a “First Amendment” issue. What about the jurors right to privacy? As I’ve said before, individual’s right to privacy is my biggest “political” concern. And it’s particular disturbing to me under these circumstances, because this case was made by media organizations, and I know that they don’t give a damn about “transparency.” They just want ratings. They want something to report on, that will get them ratings and page views, and that’s why now they’re going to try to hound the jurors so they can get interviews.
And this is problematic in cases like this, with such intense media scrutiny, because now people can hound the jurors if they don’t like the way the juror voted. And this can affect future jurors in high profile cases, when they deliberate they may take into account how people will judge them. I think for the integrity of the court system, their names should be kept private unless they voluntarily choose to reveal themselves.
Just my opinion.