O J Simpson jurors to become `prisoners'

Jurors in the O J Simpson case will today assemble at a secret location in Los Angeles to be whisked away for a life of confinement, in which everything from their television viewing to their light reading will be censored.

Judge Lance Ito ordered the two dozen jurors and alternates to "pack a toothbrush and plenty of clothes" after deciding they would be sequestered for the entire trial, not least to prevent them from being exposed to the vast publicity surrounding the double-murder case.

"We will try to do everything reasonable in our power to make this palatable," he told the gloomy-looking group after they had filed into the jury box at Los Angeles Superior Court to receive instructions. "I don't see many smiling faces at this point," he remarked.

Their sequestration could go on for months and is subject to considerable constraints, including being under police guard. They are banned from listening to the radio, and can only talk on the telephone if an officer is listening in to ensure that they do not discuss the case.

Their newspapers will be censored, as will their television viewing. But they will be allowed to watch films, listen to tape-recorded books and have three family visits a week. The authorities now face the difficult task of keeping secret their location.

The sequestration of jurors is relatively rare in the United States, and usually only takes place in high-profile cases. The O J Simpson case is the more unusual because the jurors have already been exposed to a barrage of publicity before the

trial began.

The judge decided to confine them now in order to ensure their isolation from a hearing, set for today, over whether to admit evidence that Mr Simpson abused his ex-wife, Nicole, whom he is accused of stabbing to death together with her friend Ronald Goldman.