The Associated Press and three other media outlets announced yesterday that they will not pursue further litigation in response to the partially closed jury selection in the trial of Scott Roeder. As some may be aware, Mr. Roeder is accused of murdering Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Kansas.
In this case, the attorneys requested a closed courtroom because they feared that jurors would be less than forthcoming on controversial issues like abortion if the public was present. The trial judge granted the attorneys' request and several media outlets appealed that decision to the Kansas Supreme Court. This in turn led the Kansas Supreme Court to ask the trial judge to reconsider his earlier opinion in light of the recently created requirements for closing jury selection: (1) a judge must establish a present danger for not closing jury selection; and (2) a judge must consider reasonable alternatives for closing jury selection. In the end, the trial judge relented and opened up the voir dire to the public. However, questioning of jurors on "personally sensitive issues" will occur in private.
The Roeder juror questionnaire is available here.