Georgia Trump Case Judge Bars Juror Identity Release

Georgia Trump Case Judge Bars Juror Identity Release
Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee hears motions from attorneys representing Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two co-defendants of former President Donald Trump, at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Sept. 14, 2023. (Miguel Martinez/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Petr Svab

The judge presiding over the Georgia case against former President Donald Trump prohibited the release of information that could reveal the identity of jurors and prospective jurors while the trial is pending.

“Jurors/prospective jurors shall be identified by number only in court filings or in open court during the pendency of trial," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said in a Sept. 26 order. "No party shall disclose during the pendency of the trial any juror/prospective juror information that would reveal a juror’s/prospective juror’s identity, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, or identifying employment information."
District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s prosecuting the case, asked for juror identities to be protected, while several media organizations opposed the move.

The judge sided with the prosecutor, although he wouldn’t go as far as banning any person from revealing the jurors' identities but rather only parties to the proceeding.

However, he did issue a blanket ban on recording or taking pictures of jurors, including drawing them “in a realistic or otherwise identifiable manner.”

The judge also banned the release of any responses to juror questions and any lists of jurors disqualified by either party.

Ms. Willis brought the case on Aug. 14, alleging that the efforts of President Trump and 18 others to challenge the 2020 election results amounted to a racketeering conspiracy.

Jury selection may take many months.

Ms. Willis is currently prosecuting an alleged gang-related racketeering case in which jury selection has taken more than eight months.

The Trump case is based on complicated provisions in Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law. Prosecutors have estimated that it would take four months to try, and Judge McAfee has suggested that it could be twice that. Two defendants, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, will be tried first, starting with jury selection on Oct. 23. The rest will be tried later, the judge decided, although the exact timeline remains unclear.

Several defendants are seeking to have their cases dismissed before trial, and some are trying to have their cases removed to federal court. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

President Trump has condemned the prosecution as political interference in his 2024 presidential run.

Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
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