Apparently, a few states offer jurors additional compensation in order to prevent jury duty from becoming a financial hardship. For example, in Colorado, jurors can claim financial hardship and seek additional compensation from the court. The Colorado law (13-71-125) on this issue reads as follows.
The compensation and reimbursement policy of this article shall be to prevent, insofar as possible, financial hardship for any juror because of the performance of juror service. Where financial hardship exists, the court shall attempt to place the juror in the same financial position as such juror would have been were it not for the performance of juror service.
This topic has garnered increased attention in light of the ongoing death penalty case of James Holmes which is expected to last for several months. To read more about hardship pay for jurors go here.
Eight months after six jurors acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the trial judge handling the case has decided to release the names of the jurors to the general public.
Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that he would use anonymous jurors in the criminal trial of former neo-Nazi activist William A. White. White is on trial in federal court for sending a threatening communication to his ex-wife in an attempt to extort money. Previously, in 2011, White was convicted of soliciting violence against a juror in Illinois. The judge stated that in his 41 years on the bench he had "never empaneled an anonymous jury." The judge went on to say that he is "reluctantly going to permit it in this case."
In the criminal trial of former neo-Nazi activist William A. White federal prosecutors are asking the judge to conceal the names of prospective jurors. Previously, in 2011, White was convicted of soliciting violence against a juror in Illinois. White is now on trial for sending a threatening communication to his ex-wife in an attempt to extort money. In arguing for the anonymous jury, prosecutors stated that White "and his associates are capable of harming jurors and are likely to interfere with the judicial process as they have in the past." White opposes the government's motion for anonymous jury.
To read more about this case go here. To read about prior posts on anonymous juries go here.
Media outlets are reporting that at least one juror from the Zimmerman trial has inked a book deal. Apparently, this juror is not so concerned about her anonymity or privacy. As some may recall, the trial judge in this case not only sequestered the jurors but also at least for the time being preserved their anonymity.
Some may question the need for anonymity when one of the jurors is looking to write a book about her experience. Of course, she is not the first to try and make jury service profitable. Other examples of jurors penning books after serving on high-profile trials can be found here and here.
The real issue with jurors becoming authors is that they might be more worried about selling their experience to others than finding the truth especially in a high profile case like this one. This is even more of a concern with anonymous jurors who have less oversight and accountability than traditional jurors.
The judge ruled today that the jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial will not be sequestered but will be anonymous to the public at least until the end of the trial. As some may recall, Zimmerman is accused of killing Trayvon Martin. For an earlier post on this issue go here and here.
Yesterday, Mark O'Mara, who represents George Zimmerman, filed a motion for anonymous and sequestered jurors. As some may recall, Mr. O'Mara is representing Mr. Zimmerman in his upcoming second-degree murder trial for the death of Trayvon Martin. The motion, which primarily focuses on obtaining an anonymous jury, is available here. If granted, the motion would not require a completely anonymous jury. Attorneys and court personnel would still have access to the names of the jurors.
Historically, anonymous juries were relegated to cases where juror safety was an issue or when the judge thought that someone might try to influence the jury's verdict. However, judges are now increasingly empanelling anonymous juries in the name of juror privacy. For more background information on anonymous juries go here.
In filing his motion, Mr. O'Mara asserts that
[T]his case is different than most cases because in this case, in that it is Mr. Zimmerman who requests an anonymous jury. Mr. Zimmerman believes that juror anonymity will promote an atmosphere in which jurors can hear evidence and deliberate without fear of reprisal or harassment.
Mr. O'Mara also claims that
If this Court fails to protect the privacy of Mr. Zimmerman's potential jurors it will endanger his rights to due process of law and a fair trial by an impartial jury.
The motion also makes several references to the Casey Anthony jurors who were subject to extensive criticism for their verdict. I am not sure how the government is going to react to this motion but I am sure that the media will seek to intervene and respond. Generally speaking, if a trial judge wants to use an anonymous jury, she has to make factual findings as to why one is necessary.