Thursday, September 19, 2002

jurors' questionnaires and the first amendment

A controversy before the Ohio Supreme Court involves jurors' questionnaires and the identity of those jurors. A mistrial was declared when the jury foreman informed the judge that one of the jurors supported the verdict only because "he was in a hurry to leave." The trial involved charges of rape and murder, and has not yet been retried. A local newspaper asked for the names of the jurors, and the questionnaires. The Court ruled that they could have the questionnaires, but not the identities of the jurors. Does the public have the right to know? Are the questionnaires public documents? Will disclosure hinder the accused's right to a fair trial in the future? Or the rights of other defendant's in the future? Should jurors' identities be withheld from the public?

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