Voir dire must be public, even when embarrassing to jurors, says court

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Ruling on a protest by the owner of a local newspaper, Maine’s top court on Thursday afternoon said a judge must hold jury selection sessions in open court, even if answering voir dire questions could be embarrassing to jurors.

Prospective members of the jury in the case at issue are being asked for their opinions on prostitution, pornography and adultery, among other topics, reports the Kennebec Journal.

However, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court also suggests in yesterday’s 6-1 decision, to which the newspaper provides link, that York County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills may have other options for reducing the embarrassment factor for jurors and prospective jurors being questioned in a high-profile prostitution case against Mark Strong Sr. He is the alleged business partner of a woman accused of operating a prostitution business under the guise of a Zumba dance studio.

“The matter is remanded for the trial court to conduct the remaining voir dire in a presumptively public manner, exercising its considerable discretion to prevent the dissemination of sensitive juror information,” writes the supreme court. “The public’s access to the jury selection that has already occurred can be addressed, again at the court’s discretion, by the release of appropriately redacted transcripts.”

The Associated Press and WCVB also have stories.

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