The world learned a number of details about the 12 jurors who recently pronounced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.
They were a racially diverse group — six white Americans, four Black Americans and two mixed-race Americans — that include a dog lover, sports fan, single parent, insurance agent, nurse and retiree. But one thing remains a mystery: their names.
Anonymous juries continue to be rare, accounting for only around a dozen a year out of more than 100,000 jury trials nationally. But with the rise of social media and the ease of Internet searches, concerns over juror safety could lead to more anonymous juries, a shift that some legal scholars said could jeopardize the transparent nature of the legal system.
“It’s been a slow and constant march toward this, and if in the end no one knows who’s on the jury people can lose faith in the system and see it as a faceless machine,” said Gregg Leslie, executive director of the First Amendment Clinic at Arizona State University’s law school in Phoenix. “Protecting privacy on a blanket basis will undermine the idea of an open and accountable society.”
In all court cases, juror information is presumed public unless the government can make a case otherwise. Typically, judges keep jurors anonymous if they might be subject to physical harm, intimidation or undue media attention. Recent decisions to impanel anonymous juries include the upcoming racketeering…