ORLANDO (CBS4) – The judge in the Casey Anthony trial has urged lawmakers to change the state’s public records law to exempt jurors’ names in high profile cases from becoming public.
On Tuesday, Judge Belvin Perry said releasing the names of jurors “makes a mockery” of Florida’s privacy law, especially in high-profile cases where jurors’ may receive threats because of their verdict. He also issued an order that the names of the jurors in the Anthony trial would be released, but no sooner than the end of October. Perry said he wanted to implement a three-month “cooling off” period before making the names public to ensure the jurors’ safety.
Jurors have been threatened since they issued their verdict earlier this month, acquitting Anthony of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, Perry said.
“Releasing the names of the jurors after such a `cooling off’ period fairly balances the public’s access to information and the jurors’ safety,” Perry said.
Anthony was found guilty of four counts of lying to police but was released from jail 12 days later for time served. A large crowd gathered outside the Orange County Courthouse immediately after the verdict, outraged at the jurors’ decision. Some carried signs that said “Arrest the Jury!” and “Juror 1-12 Guilty of Murder!!!”
Perry noted in his order other examples of hostility toward jurors. A restaurant in the jurors’ home county posted a sign after the verdict saying the jurors were not welcome, and one of the jurors retired two months earlier than planned because her colleagues at work were upset with the verdict, he said.
An official with a group that advocates for Florida’s public records law said Wednesday there are ways to protect jurors.
James Rhea, director of the First Amendment Foundation, said citizens have more faith in the judicial process when it is transparent.
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