Judge in Trump Trial Asks Media Not to Report Some Juror Information


The judge in former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial ordered reporters to not disclose employment information about potential jurors after he excused a woman who said she was worried about her identity becoming known.

The woman, who had been seated on the jury on Tuesday, told the judge that her friends and colleagues had warned her that she had been identified as a juror in the high-profile case. Although the judge has kept prospective jurors’ names private, some have disclosed their employers and other identifying information in court.

She also said that she did not believe she could be impartial.

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, promptly dismissed her.

Moments later, Justice Merchan ordered the press to not report the answer to two queries on a lengthy questionnaire for prospective jurors: “Who is your current employer?” and “Who was your prior employer?”

The judge conceded that the information about employers was necessary for lawyers to know. But he directed that those two answers be redacted from the transcript.

Justice Merchan also said that he was concerned about news outlets publishing physical descriptions of prospective or seated jurors, asking reporters to “simply apply common sense.”

“It serves no purpose,” Justice Merchan said about publishing physical descriptions, adding that he was directing the press to “refrain from writing about anything you observe with your eyes.”

With the loss of the female juror on Thursday morning, six seated jurors remain.

In early March, Justice Merchan issued an order prohibiting publicly disclosing the names of jurors, while allowing legal teams and the defendant to know their identities.

But before the trial, Mr. Trump’s lawyers requested that potential jurors not be told that the jury would be anonymous unless he or she expressed concerns. Justice Merchan told the parties that he’d “make every effort to not unnecessarily alert the jurors” to this secrecy, merely telling jurors that they would be identified in court by a number.

On Thursday, Justice Merchan seemed frustrated by news reports that included identifying characteristics of potential jurors that had been aired in open court. He said: “There’s a reason why this is an anonymous jury, and we’ve taken the measures we have taken.”

“It kind of defeats the purpose of that when so much information is put out there,” he said.

He added that “the press can write about anything the attorney and the courts discuss and anything you observe us do.”

But he also said he had the legal authority to prevent reporters from relaying employer information on prospective jurors. He added that “if you can’t stick to that, were going to have to see if there is anything else we can do to keep the jurors safe.”

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