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First Amendment

Court Finds Media Right to Juror Names

Posted Jun 1, 2007 2:48 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the media has a First Amendment right to juror names.

Writing yesterday (PDF) for a unanimous court, Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy said disclosing jurors’ names furthers the objective of a fair trial and assures society of fairness.

Cappy wrote that names could be withheld in some instances, such as when juror safety is a concern. But he said courts would first have to find “a substantial probability that an important right will be prejudiced by publicity” and there are no reasonable alternatives to protect that right.

The issue of juror privacy is of growing concern as more high-profile trials are featured on television, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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